So you’re thinking about taking your unit of scouts, guides or other youth group and together becoming a new scout group with the Baden-Powell Service Association. Good for you! It can be a little daunting, but here’s the steps for getting it done. As the leader of your group, in BPSA you will be the Group Scoutmaster (GSM)--and it is part of the role of the GSM to register the group into the BPSA system.
During the transition, the thing to keep in mind is to maximize the excitement and fun and to minimize the hassle and uncertainty. Perhaps the best way to do this is to agree together to get this done, collect the funds to accomplish it, and then bulk-register the membership and bulk-order the manuals and uniforms. Of course, having each individual register themselves and order their own kit works too--the fun part of being a Group Scoutmaster is that you get to decide (with input as needed from others).
Note: These are the minimum steps for porting a fully functioning group across.
Budget Note: Sometimes budget considerations are primary--in which case the cost of handbooks, uniforms and neckers can all be deferred. Not being uniformed doesn't prevent a group from taking shape, and planning a way to raise money for uniforms and books make great initial projects for your new Group.
10 Steps Forward--March!
1. Choose a name. Time estimate: 4 minutes. Your unit name can be based on the unit name/number from your old association, or you can make up something new. Here are some example names to consider--follow a similar form:
Pro Tip: Take as much time and consult as many people as needed to choose your name. Check out names on Scout-Finder. The 4 minute estimate is basically provided for entertainment purposes only--unless you ALREADY KNOW what the name should be. Remember, it is a number in the ordinal form (-th, -st, -nd) followed by a word or short phrase. The word or short phrase should be something memorable and/or local. It might be geographical or geological or historical or patriotic. The number might be based on your prior unit number, latitude, longitude, postal code, date, or lucky number, etc. Prefer shorter numbers to longer numbers. The number should be a whole number--so sorry, can’t use Pi (grin).
2. Familiarize Yourself. Time Estimate: 2 hours. Browse through the BPSA website, review each of the programs (Otter, Timberwolf, Pathfinder, Rover). Read the Rover handbook (quickly, don’t get bogged down--you already know most of this stuff. This is your high-level review).
3. Register Yourself. Time Estimate: 5 minutes. Here is the Rover registration link: http://bpsa-us.org/individual-registration. You’ll need to have at least two adults registered to be a functioning scout group--might as well register the second adult now. Add 5 more minutes per adult. Cost per adult: $20
4. Register Group Charter. Time Estimate: 3 minutes. Here is the link to register a group charter: http://bpsa-us.org/bpsa-group-charter. Note: there is no requirement for a charter organization--as the GSM you are the charter holder. Cost for Charter: $35
Congratulations, with two adults registered and your Charter application complete, you are now a BPSA Scout Group. Depending on which part of the country you live in you’ll want to immediately reach out to your region Commissioner. Not sure who that is? Just ask one of us we’ll help you get it sorted out.
NOTE: Be aware that the registration system may not (yet) send information back to you. So whenever you register anyone be sure and keep a separate copy for your own records.
5. Register the remaining adults. Time Estimate: 5 minutes each. This is easily accomplished if you have their information in-hand prior to starting. All registered adults register as “Rovers.” NOTE: All adult registrations are provisional pending completion of a background check that will be completed by the BPSA-US.org. Cost per adult: $20
6. Register the remaining youth: Time Estimate: 5 minutes each. This is easily accomplished if you have their information in-hand prior to starting. Cost per youth: $20. Here are the age-breaks for each section:
Otter: 5-6 years old Timberwolf: 7-10 years old Pathfinder: 12-17 years old Rover: 18 years old and over
7. Order Manuals. Time Estimate: 10 minutes: Scout handbooks can be downloaded in PDF Format for free, of course everyone loves having a physical copy. I recommend the spiral bound--save two bucks and buy in bulk orders of 10:
8. Get uniforms. Time Estimate: 2 hours. For getting it done quickly I recommend getting sizes for everyone and buying in bulk. You’ll need to order hats, shirts, various badges and pins for each member. The quartermaster usually takes 10 days to three weeks to fulfill each order and get it delivered to you.
Cost Timberwolf Handbook - Spiral Bound $16.00 each Pathfinder Handbook (A5 Format) - Spiral Bound $14.00 each Rover Handbook (A5 format) - Spiral Bound $13.00 each
Rovers Cost Rover or Pathfinder LS Shirt for men $34.00 each 'B-P Service Association' Name Strip $0.75 each WFIS Badge $1.00 each BPSA Hat Pin $4.00 each Green Beret $12.49 each Pathfinders Cost Pathfinder LS Shirt for men $34.00 each 'B-P Service Association' Name Strip $0.75 each WFIS Badge $1.00 each BPSA Hat Pin $4.00 each Red Beret $12.49 each Timberwolf Cost Recommended LS Shirt for Timberwolves $6.00 each WFIS Badge $1.00 each Timberwolf Six and Otter Den Flash $0.50 each Recommended Ball Cap for Timberwolves - Small $6.00 each Otter Cost Recommended LS Shirt for Otter $6.00 each WFIS Badge $1.00 each Timberwolf Six and Otter Den Flash $0.50 each Recommended Ball Cap for Otter - Small $6.00 each
Additionally, you’ll want to order your custom group flash. it will cost you $60 for 50 patches, at this link: http://baden-powell-service-assoc-quartermasters.myshopify.com/products/group-flash-custom.
NOTE: You will likely want a “round brown” campaign hat for yourself--but that’s an additional $55.
Pro Tip: This goes quickly if you have head sizes and shirt sizes for each person, and if someone can cover the costs to make a bulk order. Otherwise each individual can certainly order their own as they’re able, and the GSM only worries about getting their personal uniform and the custom group flash.
Reminder: Not being uniformed doesn't prevent a group from taking shape. Planning a way to raise money for uniforms and books make great initial projects for the new Group.
9. Design and order your Neckers. Time Estimate: 20 minutes. (Or reuse your old ones if you have them--of course you must cover any non-BPSA logos). Instructions here: http://bpsa-us.ning.com/group/scout-groups-leaders/page/group-necker-colors-designs. Cost is $16 each, or even better get your local quilting bee to make them at about half the cost. Note that “official” dress neckers have a prescribed design that is noted in the link (above)
10. Assign adult leaders to each of the Sections--and have them plan for meetings at least twice a month for each section. Perhaps you only staff a Timberwolf section to start--that’s cool! Grow the other sections as you are able. Meetings can be held out-of-doors at local parks. Second best is in a members home or at a local meeting hall or church, etc.
BPSA does not provide insurance. You may want to seek insurance for your scout group, or rely on your homeowners coverage. Or partner with an existing neighborhood organization such as a club or church and benefit from their insurance. Eventually group insurance will be provided by BPSA, but it isn’t available yet.
High-level Cost Estimator
I've included this high-level cost estimator to help figure out the basic kit costs for your unit. The estimator includes the uniform, neckerchief, handbook, and membership costs, per person, as well as the group flash and charter fee. As always it's possible to not include uniform and handbook costs up front:
Section Cost Number Subtotal Rover: $115 Pathfinder: $115 Timberwolf: $ 49 Otter: $ 51 Group Flash + Charter: $ 95 50 patches Total: $ 0
You’re now ready to hold your first Group scout meeting in the Baden-Powell Service Association. You don’t have to wait for your uniforms, neckerchiefs and handbooks--you can get started right away. You have a wide world of traditional scouting fun ahead of you--between getting your uniforms squared away and preparing new unit banners and signage, learning your scout handbook and sharing all the skills and proficiencies, you've got the whole year and more ahead of you to get things sorted out. The best part is you've made the transition to fully inclusive, traditional scouting. It's a big step (ok, 10 steps!) but it's something you can be proud of and not feel the slightest bit complicated about.
See you around, scout!