This document is for those who wish to know more about starting a Muslim Scout group.
Q. Why Islamic Scouts?
A. As part of the Boy Scouts of America, you have 100 years of youth activity experience available to you. Why reinvent the wheel when you can use what is already there? Provide for your youth the activities they would not normally have access to in an environment that is comfortable for parents. Working as an official Scout group provides opportunities to promote Islam verbally and via your actions. The National Islamic Council on Scouting has had a successful relationship with the Boy Scouts of America for 30 years.
Q. Isn’t Scouting based on Christian traditions?
A. Historically. Scouting around the world has been centered on no particular religion. Part of Scouting’s core strategy involves a push for diversity—encouraging minority groups to join Scouting—with a flexible approach to religion. A general moral and ethical code is still core to Scouting, which if anything is beneficial.
Q. Will Scouting conflict with Islamic values?
A. Did you know that to be a member of the Boy Scouts of America you are required to believe in a God? The strong ethical and moral code of the Scouts is very much compatible with Islam. The Boy Scouts of America has been working with the Islamic Council on Scouting since 1982. From this relationship, the Boy Scouts has made policy changes to cater for and to nurture Muslim Scouting in the United States.
Q. Does ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) endorse Scouting?
A. YES, ISNA has had a relationship with the Boy Scouts of America for over a decade, and the ISNA secretary general recently signed the relationship document in the ISNA’s annual convention at Chicago. (See attachment)
Q. Can I convert my current youth group into a Muslim Scout group?
A. Yes, you can. The immediate benefit to you is a formal and recognized structure with activities given to you on a plate. You will gain support locally as well as nationally, not to mention the opportunity to work with non-Muslims so as to give dawah. You need to be able to convince your team—parents as well as the youth in your care—of the benefits.
Q. What are the core requirements to start a Muslim Scout group?
A. Sincerity, determination, dedication, willingness to learn, and a good team (as well as Allah’s blessing of course).
Q. How many Scouts are there?
A. The World Scout Bureau in Geneva reports that there are 28 million members in 218 countries and territories. The only countries that do not have Scouting are Andorra, China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Myanmar.
There are 9 million Muslim Scouts. In the USA, there are approximately 91 units associated with the BSA as Muslim Scout groups with about 2,000 Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers.
Q. What kind of help can I expect?
A. As part of a national organization, you will have many resources available to you: the support of the Boy Scouts of America, other regular Scout groups in your area, the National Islamic Committee on Scouting, and the Islamic Council on Scouting‘s religious emblem program.
Q. Who dictates what we do in our Scout group?
A. You have full control over the program content of your Scout group.
Q. Will this be a real Scout group, or is it just a Muslim youth movement with a Scout spin on it?
A. You will be a regular Scout group chartered by the Boy Scouts of America.
Q. What strings are attached by being a part of the Boy Scouts of America?
A. As a formal Scout group, you will have to follow the rules and regulations of the Boy Scouts of America. These rules will be mostly to do with safety of the children with regard to adventurous activities and outings. Generally, everything is flexible except for health and safety. An advantage of this is that all the formal policies and rules necessary for a formal youth group are already done for you, and if followed, you will also be insured. Rules and regulations are covered in the Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America, produced by the Boy Scouts of America. Health and safety rules and policies are available on the BSA’s website at www.scouting.org/scoutingsafely.
Q. Who are my reference points in setting up a new Scout group?
A. You have three main sources of references: the Islamic Council on Scouting, the National Islamic Committee on Scouting and the Boy Scouts of America.
1. Islamic Council on Scouting of North America (religious emblems program)
2. National Islamic Committee on Scouting, BSA (relationships and training)
3. Boy Scouts of America (supports and charters you and your unit)
Q. What about the uniform?
A. The uniform is a requirement for Scouts. You get to choose the color(s) of the scarf (neckerchief) that will represent your group. Adult Scout leaders have uniforms, too. (Islamic Scouting encourages the general Islamic principles of clothing for both males and females).
Q. What will I call my Scout group?
A. You will be issued a number (usually representing the number of Scout groups in your area) followed by the name of your area, which is called a “district.” You can also give your group a formal nickname, such as the name of your Islamic center or Masjid, such as Adam Center Scout Pack or Troop, or Islamic Center Orange County Scout Pack or Troop. When you are registering your pack or troop, make sure you register as a chartered organization of Islamic Scouting.
Q. Who can I speak to directly and on a regular basis to help me through this?
A. The National Islamic Committee on Scouting, Boy Scouts of America, has a buddy system in which you will be provided a contact who is an existing Muslim Scout leader. He or she acts as your unit commissioner and would have likely gone through the same process you are going through now. Your buddy is responsible to help you set up your group and should have enough experience to answer your questions. The Boy Scouts of America has local district and council professionals who are responsible for helping you start your Scout group. These local district executives will be your initial contact with the Boy Scouts of America. Once you are on your feet, you will work with the Boy Scouts of America directly (your serving area is called a district). You can also use the Boy Scouts of America’s information center dedicated to supporting all Scout groups in the United States.
Islamic Scouting Information Centre: This is being established. At present, you can contact via email or visit the website at www.islamicscouting.org.
Q. How is the Boy Scouts of America structured?
A. Your Scout group is part of a district. The district has its own management to help all Scout groups in the district (advice and centrally organized activities for groups that do not have expertise or experience). Your district is part of a council, which includes other districts around you. The council is responsible for supporting all the districts in its area. All districts report to the council. All councils then report to regional and national offices based in Irving, Texas. The National Council is responsible for supporting all the local councils. The National Islamic Committee on Scouting and Islamic Council on Scouting have a direct channel to the National Council and World Islamic Committee on Scouting for non-Muslim countries (WICS) as well as the International Union of Muslim Scouting (IUMS). IUMS is a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM).
Q. What age groups of children do I deal with?
A. Scouts range from 5 to 20 years of age and are divided into different levels by age. Each level has its own requirements. By and large, Muslim Scout groups have a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Venturing groups. If you can operate all three levels, it is best to do so because as the boys get older, they can move smoothly from one level to the next:
Cub Scouts: 7–10 years old
Boy Scouts: 11–17 years old
Venturers: 13–20 years old
Adult leaders: 18 and older
Q. Where can I hold my regular meetings?
A. You will need a hall or similar. If you cannot use your local mosque or community center, let your assigned district executive know. It may be possible to share an existing Scout unit’s meeting place. You will gradually start to own equipment, so it is best to have a place where you can store this.
Q. I want to kick off the process of starting a Muslim Scout group. What now?
A. You need a reliable team. Leaders who deal with the Scouts directly (uniformed) and adult support who will do the administrative bits (chair, treasurer, and secretary). A number of parent helpers will also help you. All adults will undergo a check for any criminal record. This is free, and the forms are provided by the Scout office. You will also need a place to hold your regular activities.
Q. If someone has completed a criminal records check from another agency, do they need a new one for the Scouts?
A. Yes. The criminal records disclosure is similar to a safety inspection on your car. It is accurate on the day of issue. Time will have passed since the applicant received their previous check, so the Boy Scouts of America needs to ensure the check is up to date. The Boy Scouts of America requires that an enhanced disclosure be undertaken. Other organizations may not have required this level of check. The disclosure is not itself proof of identity. If a person is trying to join for inappropriate motives, they may have gained the check by a similar manner. Undertaking the process helps ensure that several items of identity are checked. The criminal records disclosure application form is also used so the records department can undertake its own internal checks.
A criminal records check helps reassure the parents that we take the safety of their children very seriously and do all within our power to keep them safe.
Q. What about Insurance?
A. As long as you follow the BSA’s rules and policies, you will be insured.
Q. I don’t know anything about Scouting.
A. Don’t let this discourage you. You are not expected to know anything about Scouting. If you want to work for the sake of Allah with your community. you will find this an easy hurdle to jump. Scouting is very simple; it has an ethos that is compatible with Islam (see below) and lots of activities that support the ethos. The Boy Scouts of America has a training program that all Scout leaders are expected to go through. The Islamic Committee organizes a few residential training courses throughout the year to help you get to grips with Scouting.
The three principles that underpin Scouting are:
1. Duty to Allah (God)
2. Duty to Others
3. Duty to Self
Q. I can’t pitch a tent or tie any knots.
A. There is more to Scouting than camping and knots. However, children are drawn to the adventure of camping and other adventurous activities. The Boy Scouts of America and the Islamic Council on Scouting run skills sessions at training courses. You can also visit local groups at camp. There are many fact sheets on the Boy Scouts of America website. You will have ample opportunity to learn—if you want to.
Q. Is it hard work and time consuming?
A. Generally, any work you do in the path of Allah will not be straightforward and easy. You can expect to be busy. You may only run an hour and a half of activity per week; however, you will need to plan your activities, coordinate with your fellow Scout leaders, and do some basic administration. You are in a position of responsibility where you are the reference point and role model, which cannot be taken lightly.
Nevertheless, you will soon see the smiles on the children’s faces and hear positive things from parents.
You will also find that you can participate and enjoy the activities you have planned. There is no reason you can’t have a try at archery with your Scouts, is there?
Q. How often will I be in contact with the Boy Scouts of America once I set up?
A. About once a month, there are district committee meetings and roundtable training meetings, where leaders pass on information or help make decisions for the district as a whole. There are also activities every year that the district will run that will involve other Scout groups in your area. It is always a good idea to get involved with other Scout leaders and groups in your district.
Q. What about startup funds/grants from the Boy Scouts of America?
A. The BSA doesn’t provide any funding to any unit. This is the responsibility of the chartered organization, such as an Islamic school, Islamic organization, Muslim community center, Parent-Teacher Association, or committee for Islamic Scouting, etc.
Q. How much money do we need, and what are the cost models?
A. A Scout group may need approximately $500 to get started, but you can apply for funding and do some fund-raising. Scout leader training may be provided free of charge by your council or district.
The cost model is that parents pay for their child. The amount varies, as it is based on whether the Scout group has to rent a meeting place or already has one. On average, Scout groups charge parents approximately $10 per month per child (with the possibility of having discounts for families).
Camps and activities are charged on a break-even basis, and you would generally hold fund-raisers for equipment and extra resources. Initially, you can share equipment with other Scout groups. For families that cannot afford camping fees, funds are available from the Boy Scouts of America. No one should be excluded from Scouting based on their ability to pay.
Last Updated Saturday, May 14 2011 @ 06:17 PM EDT|2,851 Hits