Mike Walton (blackeagle)

Who is in Charge?

By: Posted On: 2019-06-06

2 girls talking in front of a building

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"The chartered organization representative is approved by the head of the chartered organization. Following approval by the unit committee chairman, all other adult unit members must be approved by the head of the chartered organization or the chartered organization representative.

Unit committee chairman approves all adult unit members except the chartered organization representative and committee chairman.

Scout executive or designee must approve all unit Scouters."

-- BSA adult volunteer application, page 2 (center box)

So why do I regularly get asked this question, with regard to "who is in charge of whom" as far as ADULTS are concerned? The above appears within a bolded box in the near center top of the adult volunteer application, in both the American English and Spanish versions of the volunteer application.

The assumption is that those completing the application reads and understands American English or Spanish -- or they have access to someone who can explain what they agree to by signing the application form.

Rocket science it is not.

This is, by far, the most frequently asked question when people post me -- and they do. Today (19 June 2019), more than 350 people have posted me requesting some sort of problem or concern they have -- mostly about the American Boy Scouting programs --, and this is a light day, as many volunteer and professional Scouters are out at camp or en route to or from a camp. Everyone wants to know "who's in charge and where am I on the pecking order."

One-hundred-thirty-eight (138) of those 350 queries today have been some flavor of "can you, please answer me who is in charge of the Scoutmasters?" or "who does the Committee Chair report to -- the Scoutmaster or (the name of the organization chartering the Troop)?"

Here's how I answer this every single time (it's a script, and it cuts down my typing a lot. Yeah, it's also a bit impersonal, but they want to know the answer to the question, not how I feel about it...or how they should think about it):

"In a Scout Troop, the youth elected by their peers as the Senior Patrol Leader is the "person in charge." That is the reason why the BSA has such a position, and it has worked that way successfully since 1911. The Senior Patrol Leader in a Troop is elected by all of the other youth members of that Troop. This person -- known by the initials "SPL" -- appoints his or her Assistant, and other members of his Troop's "cabinet" for some time - between six and nine months. To assist him or her with carrying out the mission of leading their Troop, a Scoutmaster ("master" - guide, teacher, coach - not "leader" of Scouting) and his or her Assistants work with the SPL to ensure that the program HE OR SHE wants to do gets carried out with as much support and assistance as possible.

(I tell people that the ONLY reason why we have Scoutmasters is to ensure that Scouts are not cutting things or people down and are carrying on their activities healthily and safely...and to provide that "adult supervision and oversight" many parents feel that their children must have...)

Among the adults, there is NO "pecking order." ALL of the adults support that youth person serving as Senior Patrol Leader in different ways and through various functions. Because however, Troops belong to and are part of a chartered organization's community, social and in some cases spiritual outreach, there is some "management" of their interest.

The head of the chartered organization -- that school, church, civic or fraternal organization, the owner of the company, business or corporation -- is the person legally and physically (and maybe financial) responsible for that Troop.

THAT PERSON is in charge.

He or she appoints a "Scouting representative" -- called the Chartered Organizational Representative, or COR -- to oversee and manage their Scouting program basically. The Chartered Organizational Representative is NOT "in charge." As it clearly states on the adult application, the COR approves by their signature ALL of the other volunteers working with their unit. The COR signs the applications on behalf of the head of the chartering organization.

The Scoutmasters are approved by the Troop's committee and its Chair signs also for their approval. The chair of the Troop's committee also endorses the application of all of the other members of the Troop's committee.

So, from top to bottom:

Head of the chartering organization --> Chartered Organizational Representative --> Troop Committee Chair --> Troop Committee members

Scoutmasters are appointed and approved by the Troop Committee as a whole (not one person), and the Chair approves their application on behalf of the Committee."


Senior Patrol Leaders are elected by the youth of the Troop and serves a period in that role. If you ask ME (and a lot of people do!), the Senior Patrol Leader IS "the person in charge." Because he or she is a minor, they cannot be legally or financially "in charge."

I hope this answers this question. It won't, but at least I hope that I've taken some of the "politics" out of all of this.

As so many people explain to their peers, Scouting is all about the youth.



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