What Cub Scout membership coordinators need to know

youthapp_200Cub Scout packs are making plans to get their programs going for the next year of fun and excitement. Join Scouting nights are getting scheduled and all the recruiting materials are being updated. But Scouting’s raw material is membership, for without the boys we don’t have a movement!

A pivotal committee function at this time of year is the membership coordinator, whose job is to register all of our new Scouts and re-register the returning boys for another year of fun. Often, though, we find that this important job is either being done by other committee members or by a new parent without a good understanding of the process. The responsibility for unit membership really is a separate task which calls for a dedicated individual to handle it.

When a new parent steps into the role, there’s usually a lot to learn about the membership process, and when it’s a parent new to Scouting they have to learn a little of everything! With that in mind, here’s a brief primer on membership in a Cub pack (some of which is also applicable to Boy Scouts):

  • Every youth member of your pack must be registered with the Boy Scouts of America’s national office. This is done through your local council’s Registrar. The council Registrar records all membership and advancement for your council in a national database (currently called ScoutNet). The national organization charges an annual membership fee – currently $15 but increasing to $24 in 2014. Update: Now $24
  • Youth apply for membership by having their parents complete a youth application form, item #524-406. This is a triplicate carbonless form that records information about the youth and a parent.
    • Cub Scout applicants fill in the circle marked Cub Scout Pack at the top, and write the pack number (not the den number!) in the boxes to the right. Also fill in the circle in the For Pack Registration section according to the boy’s grade in school: First grade is Tiger Cub; second and third is Cub Scout; fourth and fifth is Webelos Scout.
    • If the youth will be receiving Boys’ Life, make sure they fill in the circle indicating Boys’ Life Subscription.
    • All Tiger Cubs must have an adult Tiger Cub Partner, normally the parent or guardian. For Tiger Cub applicants, make sure the parent indicates this by filling in the circle in the bottom section next to Mark here if you are the Tiger Cub adult partner and be sure to include the parent’s date of birth.
    • At the bottom are two boxes marked Registration Fee and Boys’ Life fee. This often results in confusion, because it is only for the amount that will be paid to your council – not necessarily the amount the parent is paying to the pack! Most packs charge an additional amount to cover administrative and overhead costs, but this should not be indicated here. For new Scouts, the registration fee is the annual fee divided by 12, times the whole number of months remaining in your charter. For example, if a boy joins in September and your charter expires at the end of December, he would owe for four months ($15 divided by 12 is $1.25, times 4 months, or $5.00) (Update: $24 divided by 12 is $2, times 4 months, or $8.00). That’s the amount your pack will pay to your local council for registration. Boys’ Life is an additional $12 per year, so very simply it’s $1 times the number of months, or in this example, $4.00. There is a handy chart to look this up on the cover sheet of the application.
    • Some councils also charge an insurance fee of $1 or so for new and renewing members.
  • The form is signed by the parent and given to the Cubmaster for his or her signature. The Cubmaster should give the new parent the bottom copy of the form (marked Applicant Copy) if your form has one, and fills out the temporary membership certificate on the cover sheet and gives it to the new Cub Scout. The Cubmaster should give you the other two copies, marked Local Council Copy and Unit Copy.
  • Returning Scouts don’t need to fill out a new application. They’re already on your charter and their membership will be renewed when your pack renews its charter later in the year.
  • Now  your job begins! The unit copy is for you to retain in the membership files of your pack, and to be used to enter information into your pack records. Whether you use the old-fashioned paper Pack Record Book (#33819) or a computer program, you’ll need to enter and keep track of each boy’s membership status.
  • The most important step in getting a new Cub Scout registered is to turn in the application to your council. You may think that the Scout is registered once he turns in the form to you, but that’s not the case! Be sure to turn in your application forms promptly – within a few days of receiving them at most. Unless a boy is registered with your council, he’s not eligible to participate in Scouting activities and cannot receive advancement recognition – Bobcat, his rank badge, belt loops and other items.
    • The most direct way to do this is to take the forms to your council service center and turn them in with payment to the friendly people there.
    • You also have a Scouting professional known by various titles including district executive, district director or district unit-serving executive. These people are very helpful and accommodating and will make every effort to help you get your new Scouts registered. Often, your district will have one or more application turn-in events at a local library or coffee shop, or at the monthly district leaders’ meeting called Roundtable (which you will enjoy attending). They may even meet you at a pack meeting or some other location in your town and pick up the applications. If you need more blank application forms, your professional partner can get them for you (you can also pick them up at the council service center). It’s always beneficial to know this person, so call your council service center and ask for the district professional serving your district. (Don’t know your council or district name? Ask your Cubmaster or pack committee chair – they’ll know.)
  • When you turn in the applications, you’ll also need to pay the registration fees. Each council’s procedures are likely to be different, so check with your council office or district professional to find out how to remit payment. Most likely, you’ll get a check from your pack treasurer made payable to the local council.
  • You will also be responsible for registering adult volunteers. This process is a bit more complex, because it requires approval of the adult application by the pack committee chair (not the Cubmaster) and your chartered organization representative, someone who is the link between your pack and the civic group or church that holds the charter. However, the fee and turn-in process is the same as for youth members; adult memberships automatically include Scouting Magazine. (If you are a new adult volunteer, you’ll fill out an adult application yourself.)
  • There is training that’s available and required for adults. You, and all adult volunteers, must take Youth Protection Training online before turning in an application, and you should take Cub Scout Leader Position-Specific Training to learn more about your job and how it relates to others in your pack.
  • Besides formal training, there’s also Roundtable, which I mentioned above. Roundtable is a monthly gathering of adult leaders and is open to all. You’ll find out what’s happening in your district and council, learn about events and activities your pack can take part in, learn more about your job in the pack, and meet and talk with other adult volunteers just like yourself.

There is more information on the role of the membership coordinator in an article on meritbadge.org. Don’t be too concerned about some of the items in the list – they will come later and are often shared with others in your pack.

Two very important things to realize about being a Scouting volunteer are you are not in this alone. There are many people willing to help you! And there is no such thing as a stupid question! If you don’t know, ask! Start with your committee chair or Cubmaster. We are all in this for the same reason – we want our sons to grow into the best possible kind of adult, and have fun while they’re growing.

This post first appeared on Bobwhite Blather.
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One Reply to “What Cub Scout membership coordinators need to know”

  1. Chris Kelly from the Google Scout Nation group offered the following comment:

    Let me share my story of woe that hopefully benefits others. Right before our previous CM moved on, she had appointed one parent to perform our membership and recharter work. The parent was capable and willing, so none of us thought anything of it, provided her with the paperwork for all new scouts to enter as well as information for returning scouts. As I was going to be the new CM, I wanted to work with this parent to have everything squared away, and that is when the nightmare happened.

    The parent who was capable and willing somehow became completely lost, despite members of our Pack and Council trying to help her, including providing her with lists, spreadsheets and many of us sitting down and confirming information before she submitted it. The nightmare came when she would ask if a scout was still part of the Pack or if they had moved on, and if we told her they moved on and she confirmed it, she somehow still kept them on the list, or if they were confirmed to be part of the Pack she removed them from the roster. What we ended up with were scouts and adults who were no longer part of the Pack being listed as being a part of our Pack and scouts and parents who were part of the Pack being removed or never input and confirmed. This led to our Pack overpaying for roughly 16 scouts and 13 adults. And for the scouts and parents who were removed, we ended up having to pay additionally for them, thus losing a lot of money on scouts and parents that were no longer part of the Pack and having to pay more to get the people who were still with us back on the roster.

    The worst part was that one scout, who had been part of the Pack for nearly a year prior to recharter, had to have his application submitted FOUR times before the scout was finally put on the roster so that he could be recognized for all of his hard work as a scout.

    So it is ever so important to ensure someone who knows the scouts and adults and can confirm everyone before they are put on the roster or removed so that none of you out there make the costly mistake we did. We still feel the sting from that one, but, rather than be upset about it we treated it much like we ask our scouts to do, and look at it as a learning experience.

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