Unit Parent Guides and By-Laws

Many units work off the philosophy that the only by-laws the unit needs are the Oath or Promise, and Law. They may or may not create a parent guide to help answer parent's questions about the unit. Other units incorporate additional rules, over and above the BSA rules. Sometimes these rules are placed into additional documents. In this page we will look at some example parent guides, unit handbooks and supporting documentation that units have put together.

We encourage the use of a "Troop Guidebook" or "Pack Guidebook" that contains information about the who what when where and how of the Troop. The BSA has a set of by-laws and would prefer that units not use the expression "by-laws".

Some Guidelines

  • Keep it short. Parent Guides that are longer than 15 pages will not be read. If you have a lot to communicate, consider a short parent guide, and place additional information into handouts for a particular activity. For example, instead of incorporating a sample parent permission slip, and all the rules associated with an outing, into the Parent Guide, simply say that there will be permission slips issued prior to an outing and that no Scout can attend the outing without one.
  • Make the font at least 12 point (remember, we are all getting older). If the guide is hard to read, it will not be read.
  • Write it with the parent in mind. Try to anticipate the questions the parents will have. Parent guides tend to be read by people just entering the unit. Ask youself: What was it that I was concerned with when I joined the unit? For example, tell a Boy Scout parent about uniforming, sleeping bags, and tenting. Don't go into details about white water rafting, since a 11 year old won't be participating in that activity.
  • Don't let your program suffer. Paper is fine, but the boys are active in Scouting because of the program. Don't get caught up in administrative details at the expense of the program.
  • Many Scouters advise not calling anything a by-law. That is an official term that has a lot of hidden meaning. Call your handbook a 'guide'.


Here are a few links to parent guides created by a few units.

For more ideas for unit documents see our US Scouting Document Library.



Originally Created by: Bill Nelson, Assistant District Commissioner, Salt River District, Grand Canyon Council, Boy Scouts of America. .

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