An earlier BP Pointer flagged the concept of “linked” troops with a common committee for both as a tool towards effective ways of cooperation and communication in supporting multiple troops held by the same Chartered Organization.
As announced in the spring of 2018, the National Executive Board of the BSA “approved the option of a linked troop structure that would allow boy troops and girl troops the opportunity to be linked through a shared troop committee”, in addition to sharing a Chartered Organization and Chartered Organization Representative.
- This is an option, but not required.
- It sounded like there would be some sort of simple “click the box” option for units chartering with a shared troop committee.
- Of course, as noted in that earlier BP Pointer and below, even if troops don’t “link” in a common Committee, troops chartered by the same Chartered Organization will need to coordinate some.
But here’s a 1/12/19 Update – the “linked” concept is less than it seemed:
- It turns out the whole “linked” committee choice is a bit of “much ado about nothing” in terms of BSA Charters and Applications and how your troops will be listed in anything official.
- But a “common committee” or “committee coordination” is a terrific option for Chartered Organizations and units they sponsor generally – and not just two troops.
- It turns out that the BSA and the Council won’t differentiate at all about whether two troops will be linked, or will share a committee, and you won’t Charter as “linked” troops with a shared committee at all.
- As far as BSA and Charters go, you’ll have two committees.
- Nowhere will it reflect that you have “linked” committees.
- Yeah, there was this sort of big deal announcement about how the BSA Board “approved the option of a linked troop structure”, but it turns out they just meant this: two committees can have the same members and can meet together if and when you want.
- But to be on both troop committees you have to register in both troops as a committee member.
“Link” or “Not Linked”, Coordination is Good. So, feel free to ignore the “linked” name if you like … but know that coordination among units sponsored by the same Chartered Organization will be useful, and committees need to consider effective ways of cooperation and communication with each other and their troops. In practice, that might mean that Committees operate on the following spectrum from full common committee coordination to total isolation from each other:
- Total Common Committee / Total Common Agenda: Every Committee Member is registered in both Troops.
- Every Committee Meeting covers issues germane to both units (perhaps with “breakouts” for issues really specific to just one troop).
- Partial Committee Overlap / Partial Common Agenda: Some, but not all, Committee Members are registered in both Troops – maybe most, many few.
- Some, but not all, Committee Meetings cover issues germane to both units – sometimes (maybe often, maybe not) the “Girl Troop Committee” meets separate from the “Boy Troop Committee”.
- Limited Committee Overlap / Little (or no) Common Agenda: Few (or no) Committee Members are registered in both Troops.
- Every Committee Meeting is separate – boy troop or girl troop.
- Maybe some people are liaisons between the troop committees or between the functions on the committees (e.g., fundraising, PR, joint equipment).
- Maybe they “sit in” on “the other committee” or maybe they coordinate “outside the committee meeting” agenda.
- No Committee Overlap / No Common Agenda: No Committee Members are registered in both Troops.
- Every Committee Meeting is separate – boy troop or girl troop.
- Any coordination is done by the Chartered Organization Representative.
Probably most Committees will be somewhere in the “Partial Committee Overlap / Partial Common Agenda” category, and the committees will determine how often and how much the Committees meet together and how much the members of the committees must be registered in both committees (decisions and practices which very likely will change over time).
- But unless your committees are really strict, vote-taking, Roberts Rules of Order-reading, you will probably find that meetings of helpful cooperative volunteers may not care whether they are registered in both committees.
- Of course, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).
How Much “Common Committee” Work Is Right For Your Units? It seems likely that existing troops of boys that will plan to do more activities and meetings jointly with a new troop of girls would get more value out of a “common committee” structure, though other factors may come into play for all.
- For example, relatively small troops may find it more efficient to have a single “common committee”, as the committee functions – if done on separate committees for each troop – may be done by the very same people anyway.
- But very large troops may find separate committee structure optimal, perhaps with liaison relationships between key committee functions like Chairs, equipment, advancement, recruiting, recognition, activities, fundraising and others that may have joint interest and activity.
- Or a single “common committee” may structure both by function and by unit: for example, there may be a single advancement chair (or membership chair, or fundraising chair, etc.), and separate assistants for the two troops.
- As noted, All Scouting is Local, so … do it in a way that makes sense.
- And Use Your Resources, and know that over time your leader resources may evolve, so your committee structure may evolve with your resources.
Interesting Note – “Common Committee” for All Units is an Option: In explaining why linked troops (common committees) would not be any kind of a big deal in terms of BSA Charters and Applications and won’t look at all different from an “unlinked” pair of troops and committees, a BSA professional involved in the rollout of Scouts BSA noted on 1/12/19 that “this process is no different than what we’ve been doing for decades with packs, troops, crews and ships” – in that many were already “linked” with common membership and (one assumes) common meetings, which is the idea of a “linked” unit with shared committee.
- This is a cool acknowledgement, because it makes a lot of sense, even if it isn’t spelled out in, for example, committee training syllabi.
- Frankly, it should be spelled out in the training as an option for units to have a “common committee”. But neither the Troop Committee syllabus nor the Pack Committee syllabus breathe a hint of having a “common committee” … just a few points about having “pack-troop relations”, almost all in connection with transition to a troop.
- But it makes a lot of sense to coordinate across units with common committee support.
- Not all the time … but a lot of the time.
- Most common committees would likely meet like the “Partial Committee Overlap / Partial Common Agenda” idea above:
- Some Committee Members can be registered in all units.
- Some Committee Meetings can cover issues germane to all units – but sometimes the “Troop Committees” may meet separate from the “Pack Committee” and the “Crew Committee”, and vice versa.
- A common structure for a large committee might include having an agenda with “common issues” covered first for all, with breakouts by special interest areas:
- These might be “unit based” breakouts of Pack, Troop(s), Crew …
- Or they might be “function based” breakouts of Fundraising, Membership, Equipment, PR, Advancement, Communications, etc.
- Or function breakouts followed by unit based breakouts.
- Or structure your agenda around what needs committee focus.
- This would allow, for example, fundraising people to better coordinate among all the units and mentor the new volunteers in the pack, and for pack people to see the big picture of Scouts BSA and Venturing.
- So having a “common committee” structure might be super useful to allow packs, troops, crews and ships to better cooperate and “take the long view” of the arc of a Scout’s program, supporting newer families in Cub Scouting, through Scouts BSA, and coordinating high adventure and more sophisticated activity in Venturing.
- More on a “common committee” concept is found on this District Website page, repeating a proposal submitted for consideration in 2016.
- Not one that mandates how your meet.
- Keep meeting separately if that’s what works for you.
- But a “common committee” charter structure makes it easier to apply and be chartered in multiple units at a Chartered Organization.
- And these links between pack and troop and crew committee support will help, especially in dealing with “crossover” from a pack to a troop and joint activities (like high adventure) between troops and crews, and oftentimes troop veterans can offer support to pack newbie leaders.
- Troop and crew support of packs will also aid in the flow of Cub Scouts into the respective troops.
For more about starting a new troop, see this District Resource page.