Judgment call: Who should get access to your unit contact list?

In your unit, is a Scout’s contact info freely available or guarded like nuclear launch codes?

Two forces are competing here: Effective, efficient communication between families — and privacy. How do you straddle the thin line dividing the two?

That’s what assistant Scoutmaster Leon wondered in an e-mail to me last week. Take a look at his note, and then weigh in below: 

There seems to be a concern in my troop regarding the distribution of the contact information collected at the time of registration and whether or not this makes us somehow liable or violates BSA privacy rules. Is this deemed “private” or should all members of the troop have access to one another’s complete contact information? Some believe it is for leaders only. Now is that defined as the Scoutmaster and assistant Scoutmasters or does it include committee members? Does this include cellphones for the boys too?

In today’s day and age I think it is our responsibility, at a minimum, to share cellphone numbers of all parents. We’re not using the contact info for marketing or selling to vendors, obviously. I think having e-mail, phone, home address, etc., will only help folks feel included in the troop family as well as informed about who is facing their child. Note: We did personally speak with each person on the list to verify the contact information.

Now if it is distributed, should it be electronic, on paper only, or maybe only accessible via the secured troop Web site?

My feel is that this will help in every manner of communications—both within the Scouting unit as well as unrelated things as members of a community where the boys and parents can help each other out if they know how to contact each other.

Last point: In our modern age where there are many divorced families, there’s also a question that relates to including only one parent or both. Not that people want to advertise who’s divorced and who’s married, but some folks believe the contact information will reveal too much and place a stigma on the family, while others believe the troop families have a right to know who’s in the troop and how to find them when needed. There are lots of directions to take on this discussion so I’d like your feedback and the thoughts of others.

Yours in Scouting,

Leon

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About Bryan Wendell 2843 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.