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Are we pricing Scouting away from families?

dear william,
i am not ‘claiming’ that the Scout Executive in our council has created fund raising quota, I am TELLING YOU that last year and this year, there WAS a QUOTA of fundraising for each unit on a per boy per unit number. in 2020 it could be from FOS from within the unit or the percentage to council from the sale of camp cards or popcorn. In a month at the council annual business meeting we will find out how much for this year.

I just spoke with the treasurer for our Pack/Troop and it was $50 per boy per unit for 2020 recharter.

If you want the messy details we will have to talk off line with the e-mail below instead of public.

dilworth brinton jr
dbrintonjr@yahoo.com

Never heard of such a thing. And your claim that if a unit does not hit the fundraising quota, the S.E. will refuse to recharter a unit? I doubt it very much.

Are you sure you aren’t confusing the council service fee? That’s not a “fundraising quota”.

Not knowing anything about their particular situation, I can see a council potentially offering two options (as many units do) for covering costs: pay a fixed fee or fund-raise equivalent to that fixed fee. That said, it sounds like there’s a lot of backstory in this particular case, so I’m not asserting that’s what’s going on here, per se.

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I know there is a lot of regional variability, but TBH $400 for an away camp that includes food is a bargain to any other choice in our area. Heck, a week of non-resident sports camp is $275, and that’s only from 9am-2pm

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No we are not. Perhaps unit leaders should embrace the Aims of Scouting, educate parents on the value of Scouting.

That’s only true if your camp doesn’t have an adult volunteer requirement. All the camps in our area both within and outside of our Council do and you have to have a minimum of three adults along with the kids. That either means the SM and a couple ASMs are taking a week off of work or more likely it means that unit parents have to volunteer to go at least one night. Since I’m self employed, that jacks the cost of camp well over $450.

dear williamsburgscouter
(very nice screen name)

you may notice that i do not use a screen name to hide myself. Since i use my real name i must be very careful that what ever i say, i must be able to ‘back it up with the truth’. in the past i have been ‘punished’ for telling the truth.

my current district covers what was FOUR districts in 2019. Back then the four districts had
over 450 units (cubs, boys and venturing) with about 17,100 youth. When the LDS left scouting (dec 2019) this area was made into ONE DISTRICT with about 50 units (cubs, scouts and venturing) with almost 2,000 youth.

(from dec 2019 to Jan 2020, Council went from about 35,000 youth to about 6,800 youth and the donations did the same.)

This is a loss of about 89%. the DE from the three LDS districts were released in Feb 2020.
The DE for the non LDS district was kept but given the other three to ‘take care of’. He left in summer 2020 and we were given to one of the office ‘guys’ to ‘take care of’ us. We got a new hire DE for the surviving district in December 2020. He is a new hire and has not previously been a professional scouter.

I have waited a week to reply for two reasons.

1.) i wanted until after our annual district business meeting to see what happened.
we were told that our district has 41 units (some are ‘dual’ programs
with a pack and a troop in the same sponsor org.)
So with the Chartered Org Reps (about 30), the District members at large (31)
and the council board that live in our district (about 10) we had about 70 voting members.

We had four of the voting members show up at the zoom meeting (not enough for a quourm)
The field director from council took charge of the meeting,
A.) he told us that ‘if we have a good fundraising this spring’, council would take away the per boy per unit charge at recharter time’ (in the fall). (in 2020 we had a couple of units that were not registered on time for ‘monetary reasons’.
B.) were asked to vote on having only 2 district members at large and NO district chairman for 2021. If we would do so, the council would appoint a chairman and members at large at a later time.
the vote was 3 for ‘yes’ and 1 for ‘no’. this is a total of 4. Even this did not meet a quorum to be legal. But when this came up, we were told, ‘it won’t matter’.

2.) That you have: “Never heard of such a thing.”
indicates to me ore of two things.

  1. you want to hide behind a screen name for your protection
    and
  2. either you are very new and naïve OR you are a scouting professional that has learned to take the council line at all times and not break into a smile or laugh while repeating it.

In my 47 years as a commissioner, i have learned two important things to be safe in scouting:
A. when outdoor, never get between the mom and the baby cub.
B. when indoor, never get between the professional scouter and the money.

Dilworth Brinton jr. (my real name – not a screen name like so many)

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What you are describing now is very, very different from what you first said.

Your original claim was “my council now has a quote for each unit. either you have X amount for friends of scouting money for each child (per child) or we won’t register or reregister your unit this year.”

I see nothing in what you are describing as a FOS quota or the unit will not be rechartered. I see no indication that units will not be rechartered if they do not make FOS quota. In fact, I note you are no longer using the word quota at all.

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I’m in agreement with the concern raised here. I found myself in this situation this year. I have 4 boys, and I would like to have all of them in the program, and on top of that I have to pay my own adult volunteer fees, and uniform. Adding all the fees (BSA and state and pack), for all my family, I’m already over $1000 to just start scouting! This is getting out of control!. I did scouting over 17 years in another country, and it was almost all free. They should start thinking about family discount fees, this will help families like mine, and encourage more kids to join the program, since sadly it is becoming not affordable. To the point that you have to “pick” which kid in your family can join the program.
More over, the increases this year are not justified, specially when we are basically having scouting in our own home, since everything is virtual. Why it got so expensive!

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The National Fees have gone up because the membership has gone down. From 2012 to 2019 the BSA lost 80% of venturing, over 13% of Scouting and 23% of cubbing membership. Those losses combined with bankruptcy and lawsuits caused membership fee increases. On top of that, local councils have been allowed to add local fees to registration as program income has dropped. This year has been a very bad one for the BSA due to the loss of the LDS church membership and greatly reduced recruiting due to loss of access in schools because of the pandemic. Your suggestion of a family rate should be considered both at the National and Local program levels. Good Luck.

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A few things to think about here - #1 Scouting is year-round and #2 you are competing with other activities like sports. Look around your area and see what it costs for baseball, soccer. Much more if you play hockey or lacrosse. Even more if you add travel teams.

A uniform for sports is usually $100-150 and must be replaced annually or 2 years. Registration fees for a 6-8 week season run anywhere from $150-350. Plus cleats/ shoes and other equipment… If a youth plays 2 seasons or 2 sports, it is much more expensive than Scouting. That said; your unit needs to also allow Scouts to be athletes as well.

Sooo, we are not pricing kids out of Scouting, all the activities combined in a kids life cause a drain. You (we) are competing with Scouting not being “cool” and the “supposed” time commitment. It’s all how you market it and how you keep them engaged.

I’m sorry but you are wrong. Rec level most uniforms are provided for the fee along with facilities, coaches, and officials. Parents do not need to volunteer and typically if they do they get free uniforms, training, and discounted fees for their kids. Travel gets more expensive but so does scouting if you do more than meetings. Scouting gear can be far more expensive than sports gear. Your kid can borrow a bat in the dugout if you want the latest and greatest but you cannot send your kid out winter camping without his own subzero rated sleeping bag… which can be expensive. I love scouting and all that it does for kids but this brain wash that it is “cheap” is dishonest and needs to stop.

As a family that scouts, recharter this year has been a challenge. The fee increase, the addition of council activity fees combined with the challenges of fundraising in a pandemic have created one giant challenge. We have 2 scouts in different troops. In one troop the cost of recharter for for one of my sons, my wife and myself was the same as the cost of the recharter fee for my other son only in another troop. Now both of my sons are in the same troop (It was my sons choice to move troops). I know of families that the parents have both lost their jobs and are making great sacrifices to keep their sons in scouting. If these were the only costs ,that would that would be somewhat manageable, but it’s not. There are; uniform costs, camp fees, gear, food, activity fees, etc. These thing add up and that just for the scouts. As active adult leaders we have to pay for training, use vacation time for longer activities and pay most of the same cost as the scouts do.

So what can we do to lighten the burden for scouting families, a good bit, but we ned help from our councils and national too. We can do uniform and gear closets, setup a needy scout fund (for fees), be thrifty in our planning and even ask what is really necessary in the way of troop gear to have a scouting program. As for national and council level help find some way to make the cost most more uniform from unit to unit and council to council. A family discount would be a great idea too. I am sure there are plenty of other ways to bring the costs under control, we just need to come together as community to find the solutions, not just discuss the problem. So what can we do?

Dear mr. pack horse,
My 3 sons all went to camps, merit badges and Eagle while we had just my income. My wife stayed home and cooked. We scrimped and we’re frugal.

Families can save money by using uniforms that are second-hand; our troop has a closet full of used uniform shirts and pants that scouts can access.

When scouts go camping or work on a project, they will be wearing some kind of pants anyway that you’ll buy, and the scout pants are versatile because they convert to shorts with those zip-off legs. So the pants and shirt don’t have to be thought of as ‘extras’.

We borrowed our backpacks, borrowed a tent, and went to Big 5 for inexpensive sleeping bags. You don’t have to spend. Make a friend and borrow, or buy used from families who don’t camp anymore.

You write that sports teams give away the uniforms. Not in our town of Torrance CA! Whether it’s AYSO Soccer, School sports, school band, tennis, track or swim team, we pay a lot for everything: registration, uniforms, special swim suits, helmets, shirts and sweatshirts, photos, special banquets.

In short, sports are far more expensive than scouting, and shorter duration.

Almost all those cost saving measures you recount for scouts can apply to sports as well. You don’t have to buy the photos, the team spirit wear, you can get used equipment, etc. Scouting does allow you a little more latitude to do things on a more economical scale – no one will “bench” you if you don’t go on High Adventure or more costly camping trips – but it is not cheap when compared to other youth activities. Usually these comparisons leave out things like FOS payments and the cost of volunteering in BSA. I’m not trying to attack scouts, I’m just pointing out that it is not helpful to use this line when recruiting because it’s not honest.

I’ve never, ever had a rec league that provided free uniforms or facilities, coaches, etc. Ever. Even rec league flag football for my sons in elementary school was $300 a season with 4 seasons a year. Volunteering as a coach garnered no discount for your kids, nor anything other than the requirement that you paid for a criminal background check.

And, every troop I interact with has a trailer of gear that the Scouts can borrow if they don’t have everything – including tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, etc.

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Regardless of whether you think Scouting is a deal or not - the costs can be trimmed. It is one thing to have to buy a new uniform every couple of years (or less) due to growth - but what BSA has done to the Cub Scouts is wacko. Look at all of the items that change with rank - neckerchief, cap, slide. And the Scout belt options are way more expensive than they could be with a simple buckle and web belt. Walk into a Scout Shop and you can see “brand extension” gone wild. Patches/etc are the same way. The biggest money grab there was the one where the investment in excellence (I think it was $250 here) garnered one a patch that their kid could wear. Wow, sort of like buying awards eh? Some are correct in that there are various ways to reduce a family’s costs (hand-me downs, unit closets, used/discount equipment - but BSA needs to lead by example. Make this a priority versus dreaming up more stuff to sell - whether for the youth or the Volunteers trying to look like Russian Generals in their uniforms.

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The pack my son was a member of owns the neckerchiefs. They are handed down at the annual move up ceremony. Almost none of the Scouts owned a Scout hat and most wore jeans, not BSA pants.

In both my son’s and daughter’s troops, the only Scouts who own BSA pants are those that attended NYLT or are on camp staff. Even with these Scouts, about the only time I see them in BSA pants are during courts of honor.

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Again, my point is that BSA needs to lead by focus and example. Of course there are paths for individuals and families to reduce costs.

And BTW - in my council the Eagle BoR requires a class A uniform - shirt, pants, neckerchief. My Troop requires class A for other BoRs. Sort of like the uniform guidelines - “we” are all over the place.