How to strengthen pack ties with your chartered organization

Eighteen years later, Jay Perry still remembers the one-two punch that caught him off guard.

First, his son’s Cubmaster told him many of Pack 3187’s families were transferring to another unit, leaving him as the sole leader. Second, the pack’s longtime chartered organization began saying it might drop the Scouting program altogether.

Perry met with his church to find out what was wrong. The group didn’t feel it was getting any value out of Scouting, and Perry’s family was the only Pack 3187 family that was a member of the congregation. The chartered organization representative offered him a lifeline, asking, “What are we going to do to change this?”

Perry responded by assuming the role of Cubmaster — he’s now committee chairman — and working to address the group’s concerns. Along the way, he created a roadmap other packs can use to build strong relationships with their chartered organizations.

Match Values and Create Value

Every chartered organization, whether it’s a religious institution, civic club or school-related group, has its own mission and set of values. While there’s usually plenty of overlap with Scouting’s mission and values (or else the organization wouldn’t have adopted Scouting in the first place), there’s rarely perfect alignment.

Perry was also quick to find examples of good alignment. Case in point: When church members met to talk about environmental initiatives, he was able to report that Pack 3187 had planted 4,000 trees the previous year.

“Everybody was like, ‘Oh my gosh. You do this?’ ” he recalls.

What’s more: He made sure Scouts were involved at the church, showing up frequently to serve as greeters, rake leaves or raise money at an annual pancake breakfast. His consistent message: “We are part of the youth group, and as part of the youth group, this is how we contribute.”

Bridge the Gap

Perry also worked to make sure his was not the only church family involved in Scouting. Every year at Gathering Sunday (the church’s fall kickoff), he manned a table to recruit new Cub Scouts. But he didn’t actually ask families to join.

Instead, he said, “We have a Scouting program. This is the day we meet. Here’s an application. I look forward to seeing you there on Tuesday night.”

And he didn’t just talk to families of boys in elementary school. When he saw someone with a newborn, he would let them know they could join the pack in just six years.

“I always wanted to make it look like we expected them,” he says.

That work paid off as more church members got involved in Scouting.

“I think that’s one of the biggest things you can do,” he says. “Once you have that base of parents from the church in your program, there’s a snowball effect. It gets bigger and bigger.”

Keep Talking

Finally, Perry worked hard to keep lines of communication open between the church and its Scouting units. For example, he frequently met with the minister and youth minister, and promptly addressed any concerns. (Sometimes damage would be blamed on the Scouts at times they hadn’t been in the building, and he was able to quickly correct the record.)

Today, Scout leaders meet with the lead minister, youth minister, office manager and facilities manager three or four times a year to talk about Scouting. They also stand ready to work with church leaders to solve problems specific kids are having, since those problems often occur in both Scouts and Sunday school. And when the church produces its annual report, Scouting appears right alongside other ministries.

Although it took a few years, Perry’s hard work has paid off. In the years since he took over as Cubmaster, the pack has grown from two boys to about 40 — and roughly a third are members of the congregation.

“We’re now a part of that church again,” he says. “No one’s questioning why Scouting’s there anymore.”


  1. This is an area of concern with my Pack and the chartering organization, which happens to be the local Lions Club. I am a Den Leader and the lone person, other than our COR (who really minimally engaged with both, but that is another story), that has ties to both groups. The Cubmaster and others have been invited to share things with the club and try to collaborate in serving the community with minimal success. The lone collaborative efforts have been with my den and the club.

    There are those in the club that wish that more of those tied to scouts were members of the club, but recruitment efforts have been met with, at best, a luke warm response. This along with the lack of communication/engagement has the CO pondering their relationship.

  2. One problem we had even though we were 104 years in the same place was that the institution did not know that we were one of their youth groups. The executive director thought we were just allowed to meet there. She was shocked and then told us we would need urine drug screens and FBI background checks per policy of anyone dealing with youth in the facility. I even had to talk with the institutions attorney to explain the relationship of the last 104 years. I also asked the minister if he would not just say “our scouts are here today,” but that we are a part of the institution. He said that that there was a difference and he would try and remember. Also always ask the minister to open a court of honor, blue and gold banquet etc with a prayer. Then get it into the church bulletin the next week. They cannot come if you don’t ask them.

  3. Since moving to this church from another 19 years ago, we have constantly emphasized in every way we can think that we are part of the church’s ministry to the youth of the community. On Scout Sunday we provide scout ushers, liturgists, acolytes, and have included them in the choir (This past February an all-scout group sang). At the conclusion of the service, scouts hand out a 2-page annual report on the troop’s activities and service to the community (I can provide a sample to those interested). The church weekly calendar always includes troop meetings, and their monthly newsletter includes troop news (always phrased as ‘Wesley’s scouts’ or ‘The church’s scout troop..’ Troop flyers (and those for the Pack that feeds our unit) are in the literature rack. BSA’s food safety poster is prominent in the church kitchen.
    The troop trailer (kept in their lot) prominently includes the church name. When we had 7″ troop decals made for our canoes, we were able to put them on the church’s two vans alongside the denomination’s logo. At Christmas, our scout-decorated and themed tree is in the most prominent location in the main hallway. Our mail comes to the church office, where the troop has a box with all the other committees.
    As COR, I am a member (chair, actually), of the church’s Education Work Area that oversees Sunday School classes, youth groups…and scouting. When the church’s administrative council meets, I am there to give a report on the troop. The church name is on the first line of our checks (we take advantage of tax exempt purchasing), and the church treasurer audits our checking account annually. And the staff knows the church owns all the troop’s resources, and can borrow troop canoes or other equipment for youth group use.

    • Good points, (literature in the rack, Troop Decorated Tree, etc.). Thanks and glad you can work with your other groups. Even though the Church owns all resources of all youth groups I am thankful we do not officially loan our equipment to the other youth groups. We would go camping and our tents were broken because a church member let the day care borrow our tents to play in- or – the girl scouts wanted to camp – none of them had ever camped before. (we did ask them to go with us so we could make sure they knew how to use our equipment). I mean just because my Scouts want to play baseball, football, etc. – they don’t allow other groups to use their equipment or the field (until such time as they cease to be a youth group). I am glad it is working out for you folks. Sadly it didn’t for us.

  4. This is exactly our situation. We have a troop and a pack out of our church. Yet there is only one family from the pack and one family from the troop that are members of the church. Its hard to get members, we have tried to sell wreaths and greens during christmas and they never sell. We have sold popcorn to them in the past and nothing. Its been two years, that we have sold popcorn at our CO and I have it on the schedule again this year to try. Our church has about 1000 + members however only about 300-350 come weekly and a large percentage is not the age we are looking for. There the elderly. I have reached out in weekly bulletins of our meeting times and its listed under the youth groups. WE have a LARGE Spanish population however they have their own activities at the church of ethnic dance. Its like they want nothing to do with Scouting. I cannot put my finger on it. We try, I have tried everything. This week I am submitting a flag collection, so that we can collect retired flags in our church. My expectation is low.

  5. I have the same problems a great Charter organization and a great place to meet but we are near a active duty military base.90% of my Cub Scout Pack was active military, do to military moves i lost 90% of my leadership in 60 days without much warning and most of our cubs went too.The problem that i have is that i asked for help from the district , one commissioner responded and tried to help out but then school started and because of the conflict with the Girl Scouts the school principal decided she didn’t want us Cub Scouts to recruit youth in the school . Therefore we got only 4 sign ups and 3 adult leaders. On top of this the DE quit and the new DE is less then helpful. It seems to me that no one really cares that the Pack is close to folding. They pay all their attention to the big Packs with 120 youth , 80 youth and more. This is the 2nd or third time i’ve seen Troops and Packs fold because there is no real support from the District or council. As a volunteer it’s hard to do anything without some type of staff help. Also the cost of printing for recruiting stuff is bankrupting us, i do not understand where all the money goes to. we get nothing back for our services . Why can’t our council get us recruiting flyers and posters etc?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.