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Boy Scout Troop 11
(Bismarck, North Dakota)
 
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Getting Your Pack or Troop Online


 

If you have questions about using Scoutlander or in setting up a site with scoutlander please drop me an email at curtmcgarvey@bis.midco.net

Introduction to Scouting Web Site Design

 

There is not much guidance or resources from the national BSA for Unit Web sites because units are operated by their chartering organizations and are served by their local council.

In a legal sense, every Scout unit is "owned" by a chartered organization, not the BSA or the local council, so our stance regarding unit websites is that they are privately owned rather than official venues of communication by the BSA. The BSA has given us some guidance as to the content of websites:

Guidance for Unit Web Sites From The BSA

The Boy Scouts of America provides the following advice for individuals who use privately owned Web sites and e-mail accounts to communicate information about Scouting.

Decorum for Scouting Websites

Scouters should exercise propriety and good taste online.  Access (the ability to place material on the site or send messages from the account) should be controlled by an adult who is responsible to the committee.

Youth Protection on Unit Websites

Names, images, and especially contact information pertaining to youth members should never be gathered or published over the Internet.

Copyright Issues on Scouting Websites

Do not "borrow" (without permission) content for use in unit Web sites. Written permission should always be obtained,. Even when material is declared to be "free" or "public domain;" it might not be. Councils may elect to provide links to unit website.  If the council does provide this service, they have the “opportunity to provide guidance for them by requiring the sites to be appropriate to the values of the Scouting movement”.

Unit websites are not “official” in the sense that the site represents or communicates to the public on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America or the local council.  This concept should be included in your website Disclaimer.

Changes in 2005 to the policy

Visit the National BSA site to read the expansion of the guidelines.

In this statement the National Council has stated that Councils establish the standards for unit websites. Since most councils do not have standards, then scouters are still without guidelines and resources from the national council.

III.    So What Now?—Implementing the Guidance

Unit Webmasters should contact their local councils for policies and procedures pertaining to the use of the Internet for promoting and supporting Scouting units. Many Councils do not have specific guidance for unit websites so here are some thoughts about the implementation of the national guidance.

A.    Decorum on Scouting websites

The best advice I have read on this subject is simply this:  follow the Scout Law.  Using a little common sense and the principles of scouting, it will be hard to put something up that is inappropriate. All documents, illustrations, photographs and linked material must conform to the principles and traditions of the Boy Scouts of America.

Unit websites should avoid politics allowing the “official” sites to deal those issues.  In addition, keep the site factually oriented by avoiding opinions. 

Generally avoid commercial advertisements.  Unit websites often have sponsors, or use software that requires recognition.  Do so in a manner that is appropriate and subdued.  Remember that the purpose of the site is to communicate with Scouts, their families and the unit leadership.

A poorly maintained site reflects poorly upon you, your unit and scouting. Keep your site current, it is of little value to your user if it is out-of-date.  Fix all problems that inevitably occur quickly.  Your site may be designed by a "One-hour-per-week" volunteer, but it should not look like it was designed by an amateur.

B. Youth Protection on Unit Websites

Written permission is required to list the name of any adults and adult leaders. A formal release of liability is required to list any phone number, address or email address.

Unit web sites must consider the safety and privacy of their members and participants by obtaining the necessary permissions to release information about or images of any individual.

Unit Technology Committees should consider adopting a policy that youth names may not be used in conjunction with photographs or use first names or initials only (if John Doe" is pictured, they may use "John" or "John D" or "JD").

Linking to other sites is an integral part of the world wide web.  Web masters should take care linking to other sites.  You can not control the content of those sites, so review each site before linking it to your site.  The list of “official” BSA web sites can be found at: [click here].

A list of links to unofficial scouting sites [click here].

C. Copyright on Scouting Materials

A copyright is the right to protect and control written material or artwork by the creator or the owner.  It is important to understand that you do not have the right to use copyrighted materials until you receive written permission from the owner that grants the right to use the material.  Also, if the owner sets any conditions or limitations, you must abide by them.  Or permission might be granted only for a limited time, after which you could not use the material.

A scout is trustworthy &  honest. Violating Copyright is stealing and should never be done.

Since Units in a legal sense are part of the Chartering organization and not the BSA, you also have to have permission to use BSA artwork or materials.  This permission is granted in the Annual Charter Agreement.  The Annual Charter Agreement states that  " the council agrees to provide year round training, service, and program resources to the organization and its unit (s)".  This paragraph grants the charter organization, and by extension the unit, permission to use emblems, insignia, logos of the BSA.

 

 

Guidelines


The Boy Scouts of America doesn't seem to have any "official" guidelines for scouting units on the creation of unit websites.  There is BSA  advice for personal and Unit websites, which basically points to the Council to provide guidelines.  Official BSA guidelines for Council websites is provided however - the majority of which will apply to Pack, Troop, etc.. websites.

 
When in doubt, contact your local Council with questions !

After reading all of this information, here are some simple guidelines for a Cub Scout Pack (or Boy Scout Troop) website: 

 DO

  • Create a Unit website for your Pack or Troop - Its a great way to promote your Unit and share information with your members.
  • Keep your Pack or Troop website up-to-date.
  • Provide a way for people to contact a few key ADULT leaders - email or phone number.
  • Seperate "marketing" content for prospective scouts from "private" content for members only. Make sure the private content is secure.
  • Use a reliable web hosting provider.
  • Link to other scouting content vs. reproducing it on your Unit website.
  • Contact your local Council for their specific guidelies for Unit websites.

 DON'T 

  • Use last names of any youth members - use initials if you must.
  • Have banner ads, commercial endorsements, sponsers, or any type of advertising.
  • Have pictures available for anyone to browse (secure it)
  • Have detailed information about your meeting locations and times for anyone to browse (secure it)
  • Link to site that are not scouting appropriate.
  • Have online chat rooms.
  • Use copyrighted or trademarked material.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scouting Focused Hosting


We'll start off first with a list of places to host your website that have some level of focus on scouting.

Paid Web Services
Look ma, no HTML required.  These providers have a "service" that lets you create a Pack or Troop website without the need for any technical skills at all.

Company

Units

Starting Price 
per Year

doubleknot
Not scouting specific, but a number of units use them

Any type of scouting unit

$90+

eScoutz

Cub Scout Packs & Boy Scout Troops

$65+
(includes no ads option)

PackWeb

Cub Scout Packs

$100

PacksOnline

Cub Scout Packs

$150

SOAR myPack & myTroop

Cub Scout Packs & Boy Scout Troops

$69 - $99


Paid Web Hosting
These are web hosting companies with a focus on the scouting community that provide you space to build your own unit website - technical experience required.  Because they are generic hosting, they are appropriate for any type of scouting unit.

Company

Starting Price per Year

BSA Troops

$25

Scout Hosting

$91

Scout Internet Hosting

$79

Scout Webs

$77


Free Web Hosting
The companies provide free web hosting space to scouting units.  They are appropriate for any type of scouting unit and require technical experience to create a unit website.

Company

Hosting Space

Scouter Network

2 MB

Scouting Pages

25 MB
donations for domain names & extra email accounts

Scouts Online

Unknown

Troops & Packs Online (TAPO)

15 MB



General Web Hosting


A listing of all general web hosting companies would be too large for this site.  Below are the sites that seem popular among scouting units.

Sites without advertising or sponsors
- OrgSites

Sites with advertising or sponsors (that probably shouldn't be used)
- ClubSpaces, Freeservers ($48 per year for no ads), Lycos Angelfire ($60 per year for no ads), Lycos Tripod ($60 per year for no ads), Yahoo! GeoCities ($60 per year for no ads), Yahoo Groups

Other Resources


This section provides links to other resources useful in building unit websites

Clip Art
What is a website without cool graphics?  Here is a list of places where you can get Cub Scout, Boy Scout, etc. graphics to use on your own Unit website.