Non-Scout use of council facilities

It is the policy of the Boy Scouts of America that a Scout camp may be made available on a limited basis to non-Scouting organizations that have supported Scouting or whose missions are compatible with Scouting, as a service to the community, under the following conditions.

  • That it does not interfere with the use of the camp for its intended purposes by the BSA.
  • That it does not interfere with Scout usage of the property, preferably does not overlap with usage by Scouts themselves, and does not exceed 10 percent of the total annual usage of the property.
  • That the group shall provide qualified adult leadership plus additional trained staff in sufficient numbers to adequately conduct its programs and effectively provide for the safety, health, and well-being of all participants.
  • That all standards and certifications as may be required by law or in keeping with accepted practices be complied with. (See National Camp Accreditation Program. No. 430-056)
  • That there be a definite written memorandum of understanding, properly endorsed by both parties, that covers terms of use for the property, including a hold-harmless agreement and proof of adequate liability and other insurance coverage as appropriate.
  • That the program of the group to be accommodated, as well as the leadership, shall be in harmony with the principles of Scouting.
  • That preference shall be given to nonprofit organizations. 
  • That the guidelines found in Non-Scout Use of Scout Facilities from the Risk Management Notebook,  section 23, are followed.

The Risk Management Notebook guidelines are:

PURPOSE. The procedure to be followed for non-Scout use of Scout facilities.

BACKGROUND. Many Councils receive requests from non-scouters to use Council facilities. The period of usage can range from a few hours to a couple of weeks. These guidelines will help you maintain proper limits of insurance and protection for Scouting.

PROCEDURE. It is recommended that councils obtain a Letter of Agreement whenever an outside organization seeks to use council facilities for non-Scout purposes. This is true even if the outside organization is a chartered organization or a financial donor. Outside organizations include chartered organizations, donors, or any other organizations. The only situation where a Council would not require a Letter of Agreement would be when the Council donates space for a brief meeting or activity involving adults of another charitable or non-profit organization. Whenever the event is longer than a couple of hours, whenever there are children involved, whenever you receive money for the usage, or whenever the outside organization is not a charity, Councils should obtain a Letter of Agreement.

The group must sign a Letter of Agreement that clearly states that the property is private property owned by and reserved for the use of Scouts, that Scouting is a private organization exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that the outside group using Scout property is responsible for complying with the Act and accommodating the needs of its participants. The Letter of Agreement also should describe the responsibilities of each party: Who is responsible for leadership, lifeguards, clean-up, youth protection, equipment, etc? What is the cost of the usage and when is the payment due to the Council? BSA’s policy of no-alcohol and low-impact camping should be included in the contract. The non-Scout group using the property must agree to repair, replace or pay for any and all damage attributable to their usage.

The non-Scout group must sign a Non-Scouting Release and Indemnity/Hold-Harmless Agreement and provide the Council with a Certificate of Insurance evidencing coverage in effect (including Contractual Liability, which will cover the Hold-Harmless Agreement). This Certificate of Insurance must state that the limits of liability are at least $2,000,000 Combined Single Limit. The above coverage applies to General Liability; but if the non-Scout use of Council property involves company or organization-owned vehicles, the non-Scout group must also provide evidence of Automobile Liability insurance. When individually-owned cars are driven on council property, certificates of insurance are not required. Attached is an example of a Letter of Agreement which can be used as a guideline for your own agreement (see Attachment 2).

ANSWERS TO COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS. 1. The Council may invite non-scouters as guests to activities sponsored by the Council and the above provisions do not apply. 2. Army, Navy and National Guard units that donate time and equipment to improve facilities are not required to comply with these provisions.


According to the national standards for Project COPE, a Council should meet the following criteria before an outside group is permitted to use a Project COPE course on Boy Scout property:

  1. A Letter of Agreement or other contract must be signed by the Council and the organization that will use the course.
  2. The outside organization must sign an Organizational Hold-Harmless Agreementand provide a certificate of liability insurance in the amount of $2,000,000 naming the Council as an additional insured in accordance with non-Scout use of Scout facilities.
  3. A trained Project COPE director who is familiar with the particular course must provide onsite supervision of the course in conjunction with the outside group’s leadership. At least one trained Project COPE instructor must assist the director.
  4. Health history, informed consent, and other forms specific to COPE and climbing programs should be used.

The third point is important because familiarities with the course and training in using the events on a particular Project COPE course is useful to visitors. The equipment used on a course should be closely monitored by Council staff also should maintain an accurate history of equipment use. For example a rope is to be retired according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, and no more than four years from the date of purchase. Also, effective January 1, 2007, climbing ropes and webbing must be retired according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, and no more than five years from the date of purchase. Supervision of all equipment usage helps ensure that equipment is used appropriately as intended.

To cover this need, the Council may wish to have several individuals certified as Project COPE directors and/or charge a higher fee for use of its course by an outside group.

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) GUIDELINES

Council facilities reserved for use by Scouts and Scout leaders are exempt from the ADA because Scouting is a private organization, and therefore Scouting facilities are not subject to the requirements of the ADA. If a Council opens any part of the Council property to the public or leases any part of Council property to outside groups the Council is possibly subject to the ADA for that part of the property. It is important, therefore, that Councils either preserve facilities for use by Scouts and their families, or be careful to include contract provisions that require the lessee of Council property to assume responsibility for ADA compliance.

Therefore, with respect to Scout facilities that are used for Scout activities and events, Councils do not have any ADA obligations. This includes Council events attended by Scout families and invited guests, such as Eagle Scout ceremonies and Scout Camp events.

In the event that Councils seek to lease Council property to outside groups, even on a short-term basis, it may or may not be the case that the outside group is itself a private club exempt from the ADA. Or, it may be clear that the outside group, e.g. a public school class, is open to the public. In either event, Councils must be sure that the burden of complying with the ADA is shifted to the outside group leasing Council property. If the burden is not shifted by agreement, then both the Council and the outside group may be held liable under the ADA.

Attached is Release & Indemnity/Hold Harmless Agreement for use by Council’s as part of their agreements with lessees.

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