scouts-l Mail Archive for March of 2000: Switching Sponsors Involuntarily
Tue Mar 28 2000 - 17:23:26 CST
Troop 69 was chartered to the Pleasantdale Park District in Burr Ridge, Ill., in March of 1997. At that time, Pack 69 had been continuously chartered for 45 years, approximately the last 22 with the Park District.
The publicity surrounding the chartering of the new Troop coincided with publicity in Chicago regarding the ACLU threatening the City of Chicago with lawsuits if their Police and Fire Departments did not stop chartering Explorer Posts. The City ended up dropping the charters (the cops and firemen picked them back up under their labor organizations, which are not public bodies). The BSA reorganized to separate such Posts from their "Traditional" unit organization. And the Pleasantdale Park District, fearing a lawsuit, told the Pack and the Troop to get out.
Originally, we would only have had 30 days (a coincidence of our chartering date, not a specific time limit they set). We persuaded them to give us a year to find a new sponsor. They thought that reasonable once I convinced them that otherwise the Pack and Troop would cease to function. The Park District was reluctant to have taken the step they did, but felt they were forced to do so. The Pack had been active in serving the Park District (the Troop was very new, obviously).
This all hit the local paper (with limited accuracy...). I received a phone call a couple of weeks later. St. Helena's Episcopal Church of Burr Ridge, Ill., had a deacon who was an ex-Scoutmaster and a pastor who had chartered units in Chicago. After a couple of meetings with the Pastor and the Vestry, they extended Pack and Troop 69 an offer to become chartered with them. The Park District graciously wrote a letter to the Council relinquishing any claim on the unit number, so we stayed Pack and Troop 69 and the Pack's tenure record remained in place. The Park District also placed no claim on the units' assets (they probably didn't understand what assets there were or that they even had a claim to them, and I wasn't about to enlighten them).
Some of the unit leaders and committee members were angry, but I was able to persuade them that this change was inevitable and that we needed to part without rancor. Filling a Park District meeting with 100 angry families would have won us a battle and lost us a war. The Park District now still allows us to perform service work, run fundraisers (pancake breakfast and pop sale during July 4th celebration), and use their facilities. I had been careful to point out to the Park District, with the concurrence of their lawyer, that allowing private organizations to use public facilities had already been successfully litigated all the way through the Supreme Court.
Yes, I'd recommend that you first try to improve your relations with your existing chartering organization. But if this is unsuccessful (perhaps they themselves are faltering), then take the step you envision. However, be sure that you build a strong relationship with your new sponsor. I've often said of Scouting that it's the one youth organization that asks what it can do for you the sponsor, as well as asking what you can do for it. Be sure you ask, and then be sure you act on the answer.