Start a New Unit

Photo:DOE-Matty-Greene.jpgThe Boy Scouts of America makes Scouting available to youth by chartering community organizations (like UCC congregations) to organize and operate Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, Venturing crews and Sea Scout ships for boys and young men and women. These chartered organizations manage the units and control the program of activities to support their goals and objectives. When establishing a new unit, your congregation must take these three important actions to ensure a quality Scouting program: recruit volunteer leaders, provide a meeting place, and promote a good program. You’ll also need to identify one person to be the Chartered Organization Representative, which is the liaison between the congregation and the Scout unit(s) at the church. The Boy Scouts will provide a number of resources to assist you in getting started, including training, professional staff support, volunteer support, insurance, and will often help with youth recruitment.

For additional resources and more information on the role of chartering organizations, please visit our Chartering Org Resources page.

The UCC Scouting Workgroup would be happy to assist you as you begin thinking through the idea of starting a new unit. For more information, please reach out to us on our Contact Us page. You’ll also need to be in touch with your local Boy Scout council. You can simply call the Boy Scout office closest to your congregation and ask for the District Executive that covers your area, or the UCC Workgroup can help you in getting in touch with the right people in your local council.

Steps to Starting a New Unit

There are ten basic steps to start a new BSA unit at your congregation:

  1. Invite BSA representatives to meet with your congregation’s leaders to have an initial, basic discussion on the idea of starting a new Scout unit at your church.

  2. The leaders of your congregation officially approve the adoption of the Scouting program at your church.

  3. The leaders of your congregation recruit an organizing committee of two to five people to complete the remaining steps in this process.

  4. The organizing committee meets to develop a plan for recruiting leaders and gaining wider support from the congregation.

  5. The organizing committee recruits adult volunteers for key leadership positions in the new unit. Generally speaking, this would include a Chartered Organization Representative, Committee Chair, Committee Member(s), and a couple of “direct contact” leaders (the volunteers who work with the youth). See “Six Steps to Recruiting Leaders,” below.

  6. The organizing committee works with the BSA to train the new unit leaders.

  7. With the help of the organizing committee and the BSA, the unit leaders meet to plan the first year of programs for the new unit.

  8. The unit leaders work with the BSA to recruit youth and families for the new unit, collect applications and registration fees for all members, and share the program calendar with the families.

  9. The unit leaders turn in all paperwork and fees to the BSA.

  10. The unit leaders hold their first meeting, and the charter is formally presented to the congregation.

Six Steps to Recruiting Leaders

Prior to approaching potential volunteers, the organizing committee should carefully review these best practice steps for recruiting leaders and confer with their local BSA professionals on their outreach plan.

  1. Develop a prospect list for each required position. Consider the desired qualifications for each position as you’re thinking through potential leaders. Don’t omit people just because you assume they’re too busy. Let them make that decision.

  2. Rank the prospects in order of preference.

  3. Review the prospect list with the chartering organization (if required).

  4. Make an appointment to meet with the prospect. The appointment can be scheduled over the phone, but don’t try to recruit them over the phone. Just let them know that you’re working on a new project at the church and want to speak to them about it.

  5. Meet with the prospect. Make them feel comfortable, but don’t waste too much time before you tell them very directly what you’re doing, and what you’re asking them to do. Once you ask them to do it, sit in silence until they respond.

  6. If they accept, welcome them on board and inform them of next steps. If they decline, thank them for their time, ask if they would be willing to serve in a different role (you should have a backup request), and ask them to keep your meeting private so the next person’s feelings aren’t hurt by the knowledge that you asked someone else first.