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The Lay Member in the Scout Movement

Scout parent jokeLay members, both men and women, have a large part to play in Scouting. They have made a tremendous contribution in the past and we are sure that they will continue to make their contribution in the future. There are many avenues through which the lay member can assist, according to the time he/she is prepared to give.

 

THE AVENUES

  • Parents or guardians of Cubs and Scouts are automatically entitled to membership of the Parents' Association of the Group to which their boys belong. This carries no obligation other than that of demonstrating their interest by attending various functions to which they are invited.
  • Showing an active interest in what their own sons or daughters are doing, giving them encouragement to progress and, where practicable, offering active assistance in what they are doing. This carries no obligation other than those imposed by the privilege of being a parent.
  • Service as an instructor and/or examiner, or as a counsellor in the subjects of their profession, trade or hobby. This carries only the obligation to be aware of the requirements required for the particular subjects which they are willing to deal with; and to make themselves available, at their own convenience, to the candidate at comparatively infrequent intervals.
  • Assisting a Commissioner or Scouter. This might involve keeping the records for a Branch or Group Scouter, or for a District Commissioner. Since this is a task which can be carried out at the convenience of the lay member, it does not impose a heavy obligation.
  • Serving on one of the committees at Group, District, Regional or Area level. These committees make a large contribution to Scouting by supervising its financial and administrative requirements, leaving the Scouters free to guide the Scouts. This, of course, carries a more sustained obligation than the avenues previously suggested. The committees providing lay assistance (referred to above) are as follows:

The Group Committee

Scouts hikingThis, as its name suggests, serves the needs of the individual Group. Its members are elected annually at the Annual General Meeting of the Parents' Association. The officers of the Group Committee are the Group Chairman, the Group Treasurer and the Group Secretary.

The committee usually meets once a month. Normally each of its members assumes responsibility for one of the functions of the committee, such as Information and Public Relations, Property, Transport, Accommodation, Camping sites, Equipment, Recruitment of Scouters and so on.

So far as finance is concerned, the duty of the committee lies not only in raising money, but also in spending it for the good of the Scouts of today (and not hoarding it for some future generation as yet unborn!). The committee is expected to promote income through various means, to ensure that the Pack and Troop programmes and the training of adult leaders can be fully supported.
The Group Scouter, alone of the Scouters, is a member of the committee and reports on the progress of the Branches. It is not the function of the committee to control training, which is the province of the Scouters, but it is entitled to expect that the standard of training and progress is high.


The Local Association

This is the body of lay members which, together with the District Commissioner and the Group Scouters in the District, controls the affairs of a District in regard to:

  1. safeguarding and encouraging the development of the Movement in its District by maintaining existing Groups and forming new Groups;
  2. dealing with the issue of Warrants (i.e. authorisation to act as a Scouter) as required by POR, and, in particular, ensuring that prospective Scouters are fitted morally and in other respects to be entrusted with the care of Scouts;
  • supervising Group finance;
  • offering support and advice to Group Committees;
  • arranging for examiners for Interest Badges, and granting the badges as they are earned.

thumb opening-ceremony-1Each Group is represented on the Local Association by two lay members, the Group Scouter and the Scouter in charge of each Branch. At its Annual General Meeting, the Local Association elects a Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and a number (specified in the Bye-Laws) of lay members who, together with the District Commissioner, his Assistant District Commissioners, Group Scouters (or Scouters-in-charge) and the Chairmen of Group Committees, serve as an Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee is empowered to carry out all of the functions of the Local Association, save those reserved for the Annual General Meeting. Practice varies in different Local Associations as to the frequency of full meetings, but since the Executive Committee has full powers, the Association may (if it so desires) confine itself to an Annual General Meeting or convene meetings at more frequent intervals.

It is a common and desirable practice to allocate to the lay members of the Executive Committee the Chairmanship of various sub-committees to handle such aspects as: Cubs, Scouts, Warrants, Finance, Badge Examiners and the like. It will be seen that the Local Association should be a predominantly lay body, working in co-operation with and, in some respects, parallel to the District Commissioner. Like the Group Committee, the Local Association has no direct involvement in the training of the boy, but is entitled to expect a high standard of training and progress.


The Area Scout Council

The functions of the Area Scout Council are, while related to a much wider area, not unlike those of the Local Association. In addition, most Area Councils maintain a full-time administrative staff and run an equipment department (Scout Shop). The Area Scout Council may appoint committees such as Finance, Property, etc and delegate powers to them in order to achieve its objectives. The 'chain of command' is continued to the National Scout Council, on which each Area is represented by the Area Chairman and the Area Commissioner.

For Further Reading Go To:
http://www.scouting.org.za/library/whatisscouting/WhatIsScouting.pdf


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