Combined Latter Day Saints Units
To provide a common understanding of shared leadership or combined youth activities to make a successful Cub Scouting program.
Charter – The annual renewal of the unit’s membership with the Boy Scouts of America. Also referred to as re-chartering.
Chartering Organization – This is the ward that charters the scouting unit
Chartering Organizational Representative (COR) – This is the bishopric member that has been assigned to care for the youth.
Handbook – Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States, Latest Revision.
Youth Leader – This is the leader that is serving with the youth in the scouting program
Unit Key 3 – Is the leadership of the unit consisting of the COR, Unit Leader and Committee Chair
https://my.scouting.org/ (My[Dot]Scouting.org) – This site allows the leader to look at unit information and membership records. The site is mainly for running reports and taking care of unit needs.
https://myscouting.scouting.org/ – This site is used for training and youth protection.
http://www.scouting.org/ – This is a national site that contains training information and policies.
https://www.saltlakescouts.org/ – This is a council site used for camp registration, district and council information.
http://www.ldsbsa.org/ – This site contains resources and information for LDS leaders.
Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States, Latest Revision. The can be found on-line at the ldsbsa site or by using a search engine for the title. It is also referred to as the green handbook.
Phrase Translator – BSA to LDS position conversion (PDF): Combined lds units doc 2
Member Inventory Worksheet – Used to identify which leaders are from what Wards (Excel Spreadsheet): combined units Adult Member Inventory Worksheet doc 3
Before units are combined appropriate authorization should be obtained. Section 8.4 of the Handbook, Revision May 2015 states:
The stake president may authorize small units to combine for weekday activities as long as each ward maintains a properly registered unit; each is staffed with adult leaders; and retention, recruitment, and activation efforts are maintained by each ward or quorum.
Finances always seem to be a touchy subject for leaders to discuss with Bishopric members, even though it does not need to be. Section 8.15 of the Handbook, Revision May 2015 states “Ward budgets should be used to purchase Scouting awards and materials, as determined by local leaders.” Budgets are typically set in the fall of each year. It is recommended that you discuss what the budget needs are for the next year, though just stating how much money is needed, is generally not sufficient for most bishopric members. Leaders typically need some justification or back-up to show how the funds are going to be utilized. It is also recommended that the Cub Scout budget be separate from the general primary budget. Doing so will prevent a lot of issues of the primary presidency feeling like the Cub Scouts are taking and using all of their budget. If the budget cannot be separated than make sure it is communicated with the other primary leaders as how it relates to the entire primary budget. This can be done in the Unit Key 3 meeting or other primary leadership meetings. Successful programs take funding.
Past experience has shown that a successful scouting program takes about ten dollars ($10) per month per boy to run. Table 1 is a sample break down of an annual cost for a single wolf or bear participant. The budget can be scaled back once the unit has exceeded ten (10) boys due to order of magnitude for the activities, etc.
|Monthly Belt Loop Recondition||12||Ea.||$1.39||$16.68|
|Rank Advancement w/card and parent pin||1||Ea.||$3.59||$3.59|
|Blue & Gold Banquet (Family Members)||4||Ea.||$1.50||$6.00|
|Den Meeting Activities (crafts)||36||Ea.||$1.00||$36.00|
|Individual Youth Cost per Month||$11.69|
Table 1: Example youth annual cost breakdown
The budgets can be customized depending on the needs of the unit(s). For example, the parents could be required to pay half of camp to make sure the boys attend. It should go without saying that, if a family cannot afford their portion of camp, then the unit will cover the total cost. No explanation should be required, just a simple notification that the funds are not available. One simple cost reduction idea is for units to make their own neck slides.
It is important for every leader to turn in their expenses for the program, even if the leader can afford the cost with no financial hardship and just wants to donate to the program. Failure to turn in receipts causes two main problems. First, it will give a false representation of the actual cost of the program. Second, there is nothing to say that the subsequent leader replacing the current one can afford to not to be reimbursed. If they wish to donate to the program this should be done on the tithing donation slip not by failing to complete reimbursements.
In completing the reimbursement form the notes section needs to be filled out to explain what the activity was and if it is to be distributed to all the participating Wards.
Each Ward wants to pay for only their youth in the program and there are several options in to distribute the expenses for the scouting program.
- The distribution can be done by simply taking number of boys in that Ward divided by the total number of boys in the program to determine a cost ratio (percentage) for the cost of each activity. It is recommended that expenses be turned in to a single Ward and that the Ward bill the other Wards once a quarter for reimbursement. This will allow for the primary Ward to have the appropriate approval signatures if required.The primary Ward should provide the other Wards a brief summary of what the expenses are and which reimbursement numbers from their Ward the quarterly reimbursement covers. This streamlines the audit process by allowing all the receipts to be kept in one place.
- Another method would be to dedicate a single person to keep track of all expenses and fill out expense reports for each person and submit to each ward with itemized receipts. This is a full time job and will take serious dedication so that those expending funds are reimbursed in a timely manner. It is not realistic for leaders to do this in additional to planning and conducting Den and Pack activities. Den and Pack activities will still needed to be a percentage of boys for even distribution amongst the Chartering Organizations. Wards may need to mail reimbursements to the leaders due to geographical restraints.
This has been done several different ways; here are a couple of options:
- Each Ward provides all of their own leaders and the youth just meet as a group to increase the number of boys. In this scenario each ward handles their own budgets and cost for activities. To equalize the responsibilities each Ward will take charge of a den meeting activity including planning and funding. Pack meetings can be held together or separate and each Ward’s Cub Master will be given the time to distribute awards to each of their boys. Cost for the pack meetings should be evenly distributed amongst the units.
- The most common problem is there is not enough leadership positions to meet the youth protection guidelines for two deep leadership required by BSA and church policy. As stated in the Handbook, Revision May 2015 Section 8.7:
Two-Deep Leadership Two registered adult leaders or one registered adult leader and a parent of a participant (one of whom must be 21 years of age or older) are required for all Scouting trips, outings, classes, and meetings.
In order to be compliant, Wards can share leaders to make the required number for each den and pack. This is the most successful when each Ward is responsible for maintaining certain leaders. For example Ward 1 will supply both leaders for the Wolf pack. Ward 2 will supply the leaders for the Bear pack, etc. It is best to have the COR’s from each Ward sit down with the Primary Presidencies to determine the best approach. When utilizing the shared leaders. All the leaders should be registered in every Ward. This requires a little bit of coordination. First the application and youth protection need to be completed. Second, copies of the application should be made for each ward to obtain the appropriate signatures from the COR and placement of the correct unit number on the application. Since the Committee Chair is the same in all wards they can sign the application prior to copies being made. Third, the applications are turned in to the registration office at the same time. This is to make sure the person is only paid for one time. If the leader is only registered in one unit they will not have access to the My.Scouting.org tools for all the units. Also when the units are chartered there will not be enough people in the unit to fill the required positions to successfully charter the unit for another year and you will be going back to every one of these leaders asking them to fill out another application and explaining why. This is one of those things it is easier to do it right the first time.
Scouting is not a calling in which good leaders are easily replaced. One way to determine if a leader is going to be committed to the program is by asking if they would be willing to obtain a scouting uniform. A uniform is critical for a successful unit, because boys learn by example and it is not hard to have the boy transition from a uniform to a suit.
Do to the time necessary to train leaders and have them be effective, it is recommended that they serve in this calling for 3-5 years. The first year is when they obtain their training and understanding of the program. There is a lot of information and they cannot learn it a month or two. The second year they perform and the third+ years they train their replacement. Remember, the youth are the most important part of the Ward.
The unit committee plays an important role in the communication of the pack to the COR. As the primary presidencies regularly meet with Ward leaders they need to be able to discuss the youth and if they are not engaged in the scouting program they cannot effectively care for the youth. It is recommended that the Ward handling the finances also provide the Committee Chair and Cub Master. The committee should be filled with a primary councilor over scouting from each Ward. That way each Ward is in the loop on what is happening with their youth and the program in general. Back to the example above about where Ward 1 provided the Wolf den leaders. Since this Ward decided to take on the finances; there primary presidency representative would be the Committee Chair. Ward 2 primary representative would be a committee member, etc. Once all of the committee members are registered in all the units. The My.Scouting.org site can be updated to allow three additional people to have total access to the information through the key 3 delegation. This is located under Organizational Security Manager\Key 3 Delegate. This will need to be done in each unit for all the committee members. Once they have access they can run reports on membership, contacts, training, etc.
Being the only boy in a room with two leaders is not generally fun for the participant. So when there is not enough youth in the ward to make an effective program, combining the units to increase the number of boys may make sense. It is a way to make the program fun for those participating by having those that they associate with at school or in the neighborhood there. Though this is not the only way to increase participation. The best way is to ask the boy(s) to bring a friend. In the Handbook, Revision May 2015 Section 8.17 it states (emphasis added):
Young Men and Boys of Other Faiths Young men and boys of other faiths who agree to abide by Church standards should be welcomed and encouraged to participate in Scouting activities. Expenses for their participation are paid in the same manner as for other youth. Voluntary contributions from their families may be accepted and handled in accordance with Church policy.
Chartering is completed annually for each unit. The charter expires on January 1st of each year. If a charter expires or lapses due to paper work not being completed then the unit loses its insurance by the BSA. This can place unnecessary liability on the leaders.
If the charter consist of combined leadership as discussed in Section 6.1.2 of this document, it is recommended that the units utilize the attached Member Inventory Worksheet to identify which Ward each leader is from and which ward will be responsible for the leader’s fees. The fees are paid directly from church headquarters but the leaders need to be accounted for correctly. By paying for the leader once on a Ward and using the multiple leader for the other Wards. For example there are 11 people to fill the required positions in the unit and three Wards utilized the shared leadership. Headquarters would pay proximity $165 to register all the leaders for the combined units, though because the leaders were not selected as multiple in the other two Wards. Headquarters ended up paying for each leader three times an over payment of $330. This may not be a significant amount for some, but with all of the Wards in the LDS church if every ward did this it would add up to thousands of dollars in over payments. This is why it is important to use the attached Member Inventory Worksheet and correctly pay for leaders. Each charter should be accompanied with the Member Inventory Worksheet so it can be checked for accuracy.
Section 8.3 of the Handbook, Revision May 2015 states:
Rechartering is the annual process by which each Scouting unit renews its charter as an official part of the BSA. As part of rechartering, each ward sends the BSA local council an updated roster of the Scouting unit, including the names, birth dates, and contact information of the registered youth in the unit. … The roster must be signed by a member of the bishopric. …
All fees for rechartering, unit liability insurance, and annual registration, including fees for those of other faiths who join Latter-day Saint units, are paid directly from Church headquarters to the BSA National Council.