Starting a BPSA Scouting Group
So before you begin, you should know some more about us. As we said, we are a Traditional Scouting Association. We are not looking at expanding by taking members of existing associations, however, if you feel that what we offer better meets the needs of your local area, and more importantly your youth, then we would be pleased to help you, on an individual basis, to make a decision on whether or not Traditional Scouting is for you.
BPSA offers a variety of options when it comes to the make-up of a Group. The options are:
A) All male
B) All female
Co-ed Groups must have leaders of both sexes present at all times. Groups & Sections must have a minimum of two leaders present at all meetings and outings.
It should be noted that the choice to be co-ed or not, is up to the individual Group, NOT the District or Provincial Councils. Co-ed can be entire group or it can be a specific section(s).
What’s the cost?
BPSA-Ontario, as well as the other BPSA Councils across Canada, strongly believe that the cost of Scouting should be as low as possible. We believe that Scouting should not just be for the rich, but that it should be for everyone.
Our annual registration cost (2023-24), per person, is $40.00, although Groups may charge slightly more.
BPSA-Ontario keeps its costs down to the bare bones by being 100% volunteer. Our uniforms and badges are sold at cost with no mark-up. The annual registration covers our insurance premiums and a minimal amount for administration.
Already a Scout Group in another organization?
First of all the BPSA-Ontario is not seeking to expand its organization by taking groups from any other organization. Each organization has its own merits and styles. BPSA-Ontario follows the original teachings of Baden Powell and his love for the great outdoors.
However, if you feel that what we offer better meets the needs of your local area, and more importantly your youth, then we would be pleased to help you, on an individual basis, to make a decision on whether or not traditional Scouting is for you.
So how do I begin?
There are 4 main requirements in starting a BPSA Group:
The Group should have a “sponsor”. A sponsor can be a church, fraternal group, community centre, service association (Lions), or just a group of interested parents or other adults. The sponsor is responsible for the overall well-being of the Group. Your sponsors generally comprise your “Group Auxiliary” which are the people that support your group without actually running the programs.
B) SUFFICIENT LEADERS
There must be adequate leadership available. It is mandatory that a minimum of two (2) leaders per section (except Rovers) be present at all times. Depending on section numbers, the number of required leaders will increase. If a Group is to consist of more than one section, a Group Scoutmaster (GSM) must be appointed as the leader with overall responsibility for the safe operation of the Group.
All potential leaders of BPSA Groups MUST provide the association with an acceptable Vulnerable Sector Police Record Check, be willing to undertake a short probation period, and provide the association with 4 personal references. Any adult “helpers” MUST also have a Vulnerable Sector Police Record Check as a minimum. No adults are permitted to be with youth alone.
Running a BPSA Group may seem difficult, but almost any adult will soon enjoy leading the activities. The BPSA runs its own leader training courses, and our handbooks are designed to answer most questions.
C) MEETING PLACE
The sponsor must be willing to provide the Group with a safe meeting place.
Each new Group must fill out an “Charter Application”. This will allow a new Group to begin recruiting new members and provide it with insurance coverage.
The Group System
A BPSA Group need only consist of a single age section. However a Group may consist of up to 5 age sections.
The training scheme of the BPSA caters from the young age of 5 up to adult. For a workable program this wide age group is broken down into specific age sections. The selection is not arbitrary, but worked out by over 100 years of Scouting’s history. Our structure is similar to other youth movements.
The sections making up a full BPSA Group are:
1) Otter Raft — for ages 5 – 7
2) Timber Wolf Pack — for ages 8 – 11
3) Explorer Troop — for ages 11 – 15
4) Senior Explorer Troop or Patrol — for ages 15 – 18
5 Rover Crew —for ages over 17
Youth generally progress to the next level on or near their birthday.
Leadership age requirements:
All Leaders must be at least 19 years old.
There is no requirement that a group should contain all sections. A single section is sufficient and qualifies as a Group.
The Group Council
The Group Council consists of all the adult leaders in the Group. Where more than one section exists the leaders should meet regularly (once a month) to discuss the running of the Group, to plan joint camps and to sort out the Group’s budget and financial affairs. The Group Scoutmaster (GSM) is the Chair of the Group Council.
The Group Auxiliary
Each Group must have a Group Auxiliary. This committee is made up of parents, former members, or other interested adults. The sponsor may also send a representative to attend. The Group Auxiliary is NOT involved with the running of the Group. Its role is strictly for raising funds and providing logistical and other support when needed to the sections.
The BPSA has a deliberate policy of trying to keep our uniforms available for the lowest cost we can find. This association is a traditional one, and as such requires that full uniform be properly worn.
Each section has its own uniform, which are available through our online QM Store.
So you have made the decision, you are ready to get going, how do you start?
Glad you asked. Here are the steps:
1. Contact the Chief Commissioner by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know you are interested.
2. We will send you a link for the person that is proposed to be your Group Scoutmaster (GSM) to obtain their Vulnerable Sector Police Record Check.
3. Once that has been received and reviewed, we will send you a Group Charter Application and an Adult Application for the GSM along with an information package.
4. After we receive the applications and contact the references, we will interview the GSM.
5. If all goes well, we issue a Group Charter and so it begins…
There will always be questions, no matter how long you have been a member. Common sense dictates most answers, however, there are other groups and a Provincial Council that can provide advice and assistance where required.
Most importantly – have fun! BP said that “Scouting is a jolly game” and so it should be for adults and youth. Remember that we are there for the youth and try and forget the politics of everyday life. Do what’s best for the kids and you will always have fun and enjoyment.
Good Scouting / Good Hunting !