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The Naval Submarine League provides a direct personal link to the operational submarine community for any member who chooses to exercise his or her membership prerogatives. The annual symposium, held in the Washington D.C. area each June, is an extravaganza certain to satisfy the most ardent submarine veteran or fan. It is a rich panoply of reports from the nation’s highest command levels spiced with a wide range of present, historical, and emerging needs and problems associated with submarines.

For many members, fortunate enough to live near one of the regional chapters, the involvement with submarines is continued throughout the year by a series of local meetings featuring guest speakers, ship visits, facility demonstrations, and social events. If one does not live near a regional chapter and finds it difficult to attend the annual symposium, but wishes to have more connection with the submarine community than is possible through merely reading THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, perhaps formation of a local area Submarine League Chapter is the answer.

For an organization like the Submarine League to fulfill its mission, the annual symposium and quarterly review are not enough. There has to be a grass roots (deck plate) level involvement to carry out the League’s charter – i.e., people willing to put in a little extra time to inform the public about the U.S. submarine force and the work of the League and, if possible, to provide some service to that force.

It is natural that chapters have started in areas adjacent to submarine operational bases — to wit, NAUTILUS Chapter (New umdon, Cf), Hampton Roads Chapter (Norfolk, Newport News, VA), South Carolina Chapter (Charleston, SC), Atlantic Southeast Chapter (Kings Bay, GA), Pacific Southwest Chapter (San Diego, CA), Pacific Northwest Chapter (Seattle, Bremerton, WA), and Aloha Chapter (Honolulu, HI). However, interested individuals in other areas have started or are starting chapters in areas such as Philadelphia (Mid-Atlantic Chapter), Washington, DC (Capitol Chapter), Orlando, FL (Central Florida Chapter), and San Francisco, CA.

It is to those of you who do not live near a regional chapter that this article is directed. You can organize a regional chapter and enrich your membership experience; it’s not difficult, but it does require time and effort. Here is a step-by-step guide.

Step 1 – What is a Chapter? A chapter is a formally chartered legal entity, sanctioned by the parent national organization and operating under approved by-laws as a recognized branch of the National Organization. The Board of Directors of the NSL has established policy for development and support of the chapters. Central to the policy is adherence to the goals, objectives, and purposes of the NSL as stated in its charter and Articles of Incorporation. A chapter is a self-managed organized group of fifty (50) or more NSL members that has petitioned for recognition, submitted and received approval of a set of by-laws, and been issued a charter by the NSI

Step 2 – Developing a Chapter The NSL has a standing committee charged with chapter development. Its role is to assist in the formation of new chapters, and to assist in the on-going activities of established chapters as a facilitator, coordinator, and headquarters advocate. The Executive Director of the NSL is a full-time headquarters executive who interfaces with the Board of Directors, the officers, and with all chapter officials and will provide invaluable assistance in avoiding problems.

Developing a regional chapter requires several sequential steps:

  • Assemble a Formation Committee (ad hoc.)
  • Determine the target geographic area for the chapter.
  • Request a computer-generated set of mailing labels of members resident in those zip codes that comprise the geographic target area from NSL HQ.
  • Prepare an introductory Jetter to send prospective members stating the intent to form a chapter, and seeking an expression of interest (enclose a response card).
  • Determine whether a local employer might underwrite the initial start-up efforts, e.g., meeting place, postage, secretarial help, etc.
  • Based upon results of the introductory letter responses, prepare an announcement of an organizing meeting.- Select time, place and refreshments, etc. – Develop an Agenda and a .. Strawman” set of by-laws. Include these with the announcement. – Set a time-table for events leading to charter award.
  • Establish a budget to cover all expenses incidental to start-up and submit to the Executive Director for Board of Directors’ approval and funding.
  • Convene the announced meeting, establish the agenda and elect temporary officers to conduct the prospective chapter business. Proceed to: – Define the purpose, goals, and objectives. – Confirm the geographic limits of the chapter. – Select a name for the chapter. – Establish a formal committee to complete by-laws draft or do so during the meeting. – Establish a time table for formal chartering. – Sign the petition for charter. Note: Nominally a minimum of fifty (50) signatures are required. In unusual circumstances HQ may accept a lesser number. The intent is to ensure sufficient interest to maintain an active vital chapter. Certain geographic limitations may be rationale for acceptance of a lesser number. – Gain a consensus to proceed with formation of the chapter.

Step 3 – Securing the Charter Submit the by-laws, the petition, and a forwarding letter to HQ stating the time-table preferred and other details. It is best to discuss the issues directly with the Executive Director prior to submittal to avoid delays resulting from inadequate information.

Step 4 – Beginning Operations The Board of Directors will consider the petition and proposed by-laws and, when all is in order, award a charter. Step two ensured a smooth path through the Board of Directors. When the charter is awarded, all that remains is to formally establish the chapter through an initial meeting to receive the charter and elect a permanent slate of officers.

This rather simple four-step process will guide you through the formative process and establish a new viable chapter. The direction, health, and enjoyment of the chapter will then be entirely in the hands of the chapter officers. There are very few rules imposed by NSL Headquarters. The cardinal ones are those established in the chapter charter and by-laws. The use of good common sense and coordination with NSL HQ via the Chapter Development Committee or the Executive Director will ensure a harmonious future.

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