Let’s be honest—registration and rechartering are not as glamorous as being in charge of advancements or being the Life Scout Counselor, both of which are amazing moments to share with our Scouts. But what I do, or don’t do, can affect every part of our Troop, from advancements to camping to finances. This important function within our troop needs to be taken seriously (but we can still have fun with it).
Rechartering may be on Council’s calendar in November, but it’s on mine as early as September. That’s because it isn’t just a process of turning in a neat little packet to the District Representative. It is a very manual and labor-intensive process.
Our Troop co-exists with a Crew and many members of the Troop are dual registered in the Crew. We have youth who remain active as adults in the Troop after they turn 18 (a blessing) but are considered youth in the Crew and must complete all the necessary paperwork for both. Our combined Troop and Crew, youth and adults, total almost 80 individuals.
As Registration Chair, I combine recharter efforts with our Camping Chair needs and have all the members fill out their medical forms A&B at the same time (in the past, the Camping Chair had to track each member’s medical form’s expiry dates!), so I am collecting these forms as well as dues and fees, some of which are paid—in full or in part—with Scouts’ fundraising accounts. WHEW!
What we do to make it fun (and I have to thank Adrian for this idea) is we have a spaghetti dinner to start off our rechartering season. The ‘meal ticket’ is a completed registration packet: medical forms and payment of fees and dues. It is amazing how the smell of fresh garlic bread can make most Scouts call their moms to bring their paperwork in!
Of course, in a perfect world, everyone would turn in all their completed paperwork on time and with the correct fees and dues. I would have weeks to input all the information and there wouldn’t be a single problem. This is a lovely dream and we should all have dreams. But the truth is that life doesn’t work that way. People forget. Paperwork is incomplete. Dues are forgotten or delayed (“I forgot my checkbook” is a frequent excuse). .
As I said earlier, one problem with the rechartering process is that your Troop could find itself unable to camp or participate in Council activities because your Troop ‘doesn’t exist.’ For example, a few months ago, we nearly had to cancel a campout for 40 people with only a few hours notice because our Troop packet had been placed on ‘HOLD’ due to a $20 error on our Cub Scout recharter. Adrian, the Scoutmaster and I spent a very tense hour back and forth on the phones with each other and the Council before we could get the Troop re-authorized and save the campout.
This wouldn’t have just been a matter of disappointing the boys, it would have been a financial disaster for our Troop – we had already paid two nights for the campsite and had collected $800 in camping fees and food money (40 people * $20 each) and the food was already purchased and packed. If we had needed to refund all those fees, I don’t know what we would have done.
Some of the issues with rechartering aren’t ones that can be easily made to go away. But there are a few issues that might make it better. Here are some of those issues and my ideas:
Youth Protection Training – The affects all adult members and is far too complicated. Here are some easy ways to fix it.
- When the adult member first logs in as a new member, the system could provide a membership number automatically, rather than mailing it (causing unnecessary delays). It would print right on the YPT certificate and Council would have the number when entering the registration application. If the application isn’t processed within 30 days (or 60 or whatever number you want), then the number invalidates and linking the training and the Scouter would have to happen as it does now, after the fact and when the Scouter signs into his or her account and enters that information.
- When the Council is entering the registration information, which includes the same email that was used to create an account at MyScouting, the system could pull up the training records associated with that email address and allow the Council to match training with individual.
- A huge blessing would be to send out automated reminders for expired YPT. Since the Council has the email address and knows the expiration date, why can’t their system send out reminders 60, 30, and 10 days before expiration? This would save LOADS of time as well as limit potential liability exposure to BSA from adults with lapsed YPT interacting with youth. SO much easier. And send a copy to the Adult Training Chair so they can follow up. Beautiful simplicity.
Roster – our rosters are locked approximately 2 months prior to recharter deadlines to give the Council time to print them out and get them to the District Representatives. That’s a long time and any Scouts who join during this lockout time, must join twice: once for the balance of the year and then again on the recharter roster for the New Year. This creates extra work for me, the families, and Council and frequently results in duplicate IDs. Several possible fixes:
- Allow Scouts who have joined the Troop during the recharter process be added by the Council onto the roster and a new recharter roster printed. Even if it meant going to the Council office, it would be easier.
- Allow a copy of the processed application to be used in the recharter packet, eliminating the extra form. Requiring an original form in both cases is annoying and time-wasting.
- Allow the Registration chair to tell the Council to merge the duplicates. (I already have the authority to enter new members and dual register them, so why not allow me access to indicate duplicates? Wouldn’t that save some time on Council’s part as well?)
- Alow the Membership Chair to make simple corrections to mispelled names, emails, addresses, or other info. You would not believe what lengths I have to go to for a simple name correction!
- The Council should be able to see that a Scout youth or adult already exists in the system, especially if trying to add the same person.
Financial – Now this would be a real dream, but a way to track how much each Scout owes and what they’ve paid versus earned through shared fundraising with the Troop. And what about those Scouts that we scholarship, as part of our Troop’s mission to make Scouting available for everyone? Last time this process took our Treasurer and me four DAYS to reconcile all the dues and fees for each Scout and adult.
Dual accounts – by this I mean, accessing multiple units at the same time. Because we have numerous Scouts in both Troop and Crew or as Adults and Crew, I must kill half a forest before I finalize my Charter. One year, I really goofed and a Life Scout was accidentally registered in the Crew and then dual-registered in the Troop. When he turned in his Eagle Scout paperwork, it was rejected because he wasn’t properly registered in a Troop! Fortunately, the problem was fixed quickly but I really needed antacids after that—his parents and I are friends! Please try to make this system simpler and save me a few grey hairs…
These few changes would make rechartering easier and less stressful for volunteers. I am sure that as you’ve read this, your own experiences made you sit up and say “Ah-ha! But what if we did ….. “. Share these ideas with your District Representative! Your suggestions could just generate some real improvements in this complex and difficult system.
Author: Adrian | AdriansCrazyLife.com. Adrian is a blogger who is passionate about helping parents with parenting tips, managing their finances, and organizing their homes. She has a full-time job in the financial industry and is part of the leadership of Troop 411 at Hilltop United Methodist Church in Sandy, UT.