The very first thing you should do is read thoroughly our Introduction to Traditional Scouting PDF to familiarize yourself completely with our program and group structure.
If you’ve looked and can’t find an existing BPSA group in your area, and you have at least two members (scouts) and two leaders (scouters) lined up for each of your sections, then you can register (or “charter”) a new scout group with the BPSA. Chartering a new group is easy and requires no sponsoring organization. Simply fill out our Group Charter Application Form to register a new BPSA scout group. You’ll need to fill in all the information on that form, which includes a list of each registering member of your group; and each registering member of the group will need to fill out and sign the Liability Waiver & Medical Release Form. A copy of each of these items should be mailed in with the application and a copy kept on file in your group records.
In the BPSA, we want to keep things simple and straightforward for members and leaders. There is no concept of a “sponsoring organization” within the BPSA for chartered Scout Groups. This is a concept used by the BSA and possibly GSUSA.
If a chartered group wants to find a sponsor for purposes of meeting place, shared resources, and adult members, etc; that’s fine. However, there is no formal contract or paperwork for that, as it would be between the chartered group and the sponsor. A sponsor must understand that they will have NO say over the program of BPSA or the chartered group. Sponsoring organizations should do so only because they want to help their community by supporting a local BPSA Scout Group. A sponsor has no controlling stake in the group and can not affect program, membership, or set down rules that violate the BPSA By-Laws or PO&R. The program is set up by BPSA and run by the Group Scoutmaster. Period.
If a sponsor wants to volunteer adults for the Group’s Auxilliary Committee (which makes perfect sense if you have a sponsor), they are encouraged to do so. But the Auxiliary is only concerned with managing finances, resources, and administrative/PR for the group—not the program or leadership. The GSM has final say in the BPSA; which is different than the BSA, where the Committee Chair (usually from the Sponsoring Organization) has say of leadership roles within the group.
Scout Group Organization
In a nutshell, the organization of a scout group is like an umbrella. Each scout group will have under it one or more sections: either an Otter Raft, Timberwolf Pack, Pathfinder Troop, and/or a Rover Crew. If you are registering a new group, you’ll have, at minimum, at least one of these sections, depending on the age of the interested members. For each section, you will also need to have two scouters or leaders, who themselves must also register as adult Rover Scouts. If the section is co-ed, then you will need one male and one female scouter. A scout group also has a unique identifying number (2nd, 3rd, 4th, 14th, 66th, etc.) and a name. The number 1 (ordinal 1st) is reserved for the BPSA HQ Lone Scouts (1st Lone Scouts Group); but once you register your group, no other group can use that number for as long as your group charter remains active with us. So take a look at our existing groups on the ScoutFinder map and see what numbers are not being used. Typically, the name of the group is taken from something meaningful to the group itself, such as a local name (or nickname) of the city or community, a geographical landmark, or possibly something related to the history or culture of the area that the group resides. Here are some examples from existing groups in our association:
- 5th Brooklyn
- 14th Treaty Oak
- 21st Dancing Rabbit
- 66th Confluence
- 91st Sojourners
Once you’ve determined your group’s unique number and name, each individual section’s full title would be something similar to “22nd Wildwood Rover Crew” or “136th Joe English Timberwolf Pack,” etc., depending on the section(s) you are registering. Please do not include the words “Scout,” “Scouting” or “Council” in your official group or section names. “Scout Group” is always implied after the group’s name, i.e., 55th Cascadia Scout Group. Therefore you shouldn’t use the word “scout” or “group” in your name as it would be redundant. Remember, in order to have a fully registered group and section, you’ll need a minimum of two (2) members. For non-Rover sections, registering a new group will also require two (2) registered Rover Leaders because of our 2-deep leadership policies in the BPSA. And, if co-ed, at least one (1) female leader and one (1) male leader.
Another unique aspect for each scout group in the BPSA is the group’s necker design. The scarf or neckerchief (called a necker) is worn by all members of all sections of a particular scout group. Its design and colors are unique and make that scout group distinct among other scout groups in the BPSA. The traditional necker designs were very subdued in color, and the designs were kept simple and BPSA recommends keeping with the traditional style for the neckers. Our neckers also follow those used by traditional scouting organizations around the world in that they are square, not triangular.
- Please use the necker designer at ScoutNeckers.com to create your group’s necker design.
- After you’ve finalized the design (please check the ones on our necker page to make sure yours is unique), capture a screen shot or print/save as a PDF. The designs on that site are what is allowed for our association.
- Next, email your necker design to Gloria Gager at Zone West in Canada to get a price quote (minimum order is for 12) in either 32″ (Otters/Timberwolves) or 36″ (Pathfinders/Rovers/Leaders).
- Please also send your necker design to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can add it to our showcase page on Base Camp.
Groups may also choose to make their own neckers (or have a local seamstress make them for you), as long as they conform to our uniform policy. Check this article on Inquiry.net for some tips.
Download the Group Charter Application Form, along with a Medical Release & Liability Waiver form for each member you are registering for your section(s). Each of these will need to be sent in to BPSA for proper registration and approval.
Along with your registration forms, please also send in the following information so that we can keep track of your new group on our Find a Group page:
- Group Scoutmaster’s or Full Name
- Mailing address
- GSM phone & email
- URL to your group’s website (if you have one)
- An image of your group’s necker colors
Next, start recruiting! Unless you’re already at the maximum number of members for a group (32 per section, or 128 total), you should try to recruit as many others as you can from your local community. Network with other parents, family members, friends, and neighbors in your area. Use social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and our own Base Camp site to find interested people. Make some posters advertising your group and the BPSA program and hang them up at local coffee shops, churches, libraries, and community centers (wherever community bulletin boards can be found). You will also need to find an adequate meeting place for your group. Many community centers, churches, and public libraries have meeting rooms that you may be able to reserve, possibly even for free. Give them a call!
The scout group will consist of one or more sections but will not be thought to be complete until all sections possible are fully operating. A complete scouting group will consist of:
The scout group will be in the charge of a Group Scoutmaster (GSM) and each section of the group will have a Section Leader (or Scoutmaster) with Assistants.
The Group Council
This will consist of all the registered scouters (section leaders) in the group and this council will, under the guidance of the Group Scoutmaster, deal with all matters affecting the training of the group.
The Group Council is responsible for determining what requirements are necessary to carry out its duties, and the views of the Group Council are put to the Group Auxiliary Committee by the Group Scoutmaster.
The Auxiliary Committee
The Group Auxiliary Committee consists of a Chairperson, Treasurer, Secretary, representatives of the Sponsoring Authority (if any) and parents, supporters, and friends of the group. The main function of this committee is to support the Group Scoutmaster to efficiently run the group. The committee’s main task is the raising of finance for equipment and normal running costs of the group.
Uniformed, warranted leaders (including Group Scoutmaster) do not take on the roles of officials on the Auxiliary Committee. They may, subject to the group’s own desires, sit on the Auxiliary Committee, but should not take an active part and should be acting in an advisory capacity only.
To put a halt to any hint of a conflict of interest, parents who are also scouters in the group may not sit on the Auxiliary Committee in any capacity. For more information, be sure to read our Introduction to Traditional Scouting PDF.