Scouting Forums

Popcorn Ordering


I’m a 2nd year popcorn colonel. Last year, we only did order sheets & online sales. This year, we are considering doing wagon sales during the month of August.

Our pack is struggling with whether or not to ask for money from each scout before ordering the popcorn. While it is much safer for the Pack to receive funds up front, the reality is that the scout(s) in our unit who would most benefit from selling popcorn may not be able to pay up front. How does your unit deal with this situation?

our council has a “Site sell” period - where all popcorn a unit orders can be returned.

We also have “return dates” for site selling.

However, you should be able to have scouts collect money and orders before placing your pack order, or use online sales if nothing else. There is no reason for your pack to put up funds for popcorn sales if you are not in a position to do so.

Talk to your Unit Commissioner for more help.

My pack has always allowed families to check out a certain amount of popcorn to take around the neighborhood. We’ve found that you can often sell to more people when you have it right there… sometimes even people who already “ordered” from a coworker. It’s also much more convenient than needing to catch them at home a second time to deliver it.

That said, there have been times where the popcorn disappeared without ever receiving payment. Usually that’s in the case of a scout who quit. To limit this potential, you could place a limit on the amount of popcorn a scout or family could take out.

yes - one thing I forgot - popcorn only goes out with Den Leader or a single den popcorn rep for den activities - not individual families - to limit what Jacob is talking about

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Our council allows returns as well. The concern is if a scout is unable to produce either the money or product once the sale period has concluded


How many cases do you allow a family to check out?

We don’t have a hard and fast rule. I think the popcorn kernel uses common sense. An existing pack family who sold $2000 the previous year may be allowed to check out $500-1000 without a second thought. But a brand new family who asks for the same may get a suggestion of a lower amount. You should make it a general rule not to give people more than the pack could eat if it goes sour.

Here’s another way to think about it. Since the pack gets to keep roughly 33%, the pack would have to sell an extra $200 for every $100 that disappears. In my experience, having the product on hand easily covers that for the pack.

One thing to note is that the kernel needs to keep really good records of popcorn checked in and out. Families should not be allowed to mix the popcorn they check out with the show and sell popcorn. It makes it to tough to keep everything straight.

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Thanks for the feedback. For readers who have not yet replied, please chime in!

In our unit, most families have very limited success selling popcorn due to the high price point and our local geography/demographics, so much so that our unit is doing more fundraisers that do not involve popcorn. However, we have one scout who goes above and beyond the rest of our unit in selling popcorn. We typically allow scouts to keep a cut of the popcorn sales in a “scout account” which then covers their expenses such as scout dues, summer camp, and other den/pack outings. In our situation, this scout has so much money in their account that they really do not need to go out & raise any more money, they should have enough money for the remainder of their potential career with the pack. The parent of the scout claims that they enjoy bonding by going out and selling the product together, but it strikes me as an unusual situation.

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We haven’t done this in prior years either, but I am planning to this year. I plan to allow the scouts to checkout the popcorn. There is a Trail’s End Facebook group where this topic comes up and I know some units say that they have the parents leave a post dated check. That could be a solution for you if you are concerned about covering the cost if they don’t return it. If you are on Facebook, search for Trail’s End Popcorn Community.

Okay everyone: Are you guys all saying that if you get popcorn for a pack sales, that you can’t return unsold portions back to the council?

We can’t return chocolate covered popcorn because it melts, but we can return the rest. Have been for years. Have your council negotiate with the vendor to fix this problem–this isn’t a pack-level problem.

As for individual sales, we just have the scouts collect orders and payment and then deliver the rest later. What’s the problem here?


I would not require to pay up front for show and sell. I’m not sure how your council is set up, but most show and sell and wagon sales do not require you to pay for the popcorn up front. You order it, and whatever isn’t sold you should be able to give back. There’s two parts to popcorn selling for most councils. First you place your order for ‘show and sell’, this money shouldn’t be due until later. Second, you place your order for catalog sales. The money for both should be due at the same time. You can ither use the left over popcorn from the show and sell to fullfill orders or you should be able to give it back at no risk to you. If your council is not doing this with Trails End or Camp Master’s, they should and you should certainly advocate for this. They get a significant portion of sales, and should ensure pack’s are losing money or putting parents out for the sales.

Other info:

Show and Sell actually makes a lot of money, sometimes even more than the catalog sales. Our council will buy back what isn’t sold, but we typically keep it to give out with the catalog orders or we do a few show and sells. Show and sells are set up at stores, local events and stuff like that.

During these events, you will get a lot of cash donations to. You cant technically ask for a donation persay, per scout rules, but they will offer it and you can definitely take it for the pack. Scout packs can offer a rotation, for kids to come for an hour or so each or they can do an hour or so each den until you cover the whole shift (a min of two ypt leaders should be present).

As for ‘wagon sales’ /door to door should have a payment up front. You can offer credit card sales, by setting up a pay pal or other account. This helps for those who do not have cash on hand, and you are likely to get more sales. You can easily transfer it over to your pack’s checking account to pay your council. I know Camp Master’s has a free credit card system too. I’m not sure about Trails End.

If you set up your online ordering with your pack or scouts. You can create and print out a flyer to offer potential customers who do not have cash, and don’t feel comfortable using the credit card system. The flyer can include a link on it to purchase online popcorn if they wish to purchase later. This gets significantly less sales, some packs have success with it.

Also, push social media for sales as well. Have each scout set up their online sales with the popcorn company and have parents share their links.

What is the policy for returning product for other councils? Ours only lets us return unopened cases. :frowning:

We can return unopened cases (by a certain date) for products except those with chocolate in them because the chocolate can melt. Everyone in our council seems fine with this rule.

In our case, only 1 scout in the Pack wanted to sell popcorn during the “early sale” The scout + parent wanted ~$3600 worth of popcorn to sell. The dad claimed that he bonded with his son while selling popcorn, though other leaders have claimed that the scout does not enjoy the activity. The pack committee was also concerned if something were to happen to the popcorn while in the possession of the scout (theft/damage/etc), the pack would be on the hook for the money. The scout already has over $1k in his personal scout account from previous fundraising activities that he can use for scout activities such as pack dues, summer camp, pack outings. The treasurer & I decided to limit the purchase to $2100. When we told the parent, he was irate and sent us inappropriate worded email with expletives demanding either the full amount of popcorn to be ordered or to cancel the order. We decided to cancel the order.

Hey Brandon,

Personal scout accounts are detailed in this article, and how fundraising of popcorn should go towards the entire unit, not just the scout, when it comes to large amounts of fundraising such as the example you used. This becomes an IRS issue. It then becomes a personal benefit of the scout/family rather than for the non-profit. I would just keep this in mind if you have future scouts looking to do substantial sales for their own ‘scout accounts’.


Thanks Christine. The scout, parent, and unit are all very much aware that the money in their scout account may only be used for direct expenses related to scouting (pack dues, summer camp, pack outings) If the scout were to drop out of the pack, the money would revert back to the pack.

One thing I wonder about is “how much is too much” when it comes to fundraising. Selling popcorn in our rural community takes time & effort whether it’s show & sell or door to door. I’d rather spend that time & effort doing another scout activity or even just something simple like playing catch or a board game with my son. Why would anyone want to fundraise to such excess?

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Our pack does not participate in wagon sales, only show and sells and online. Our council has not previously allowed for the return of unsold product, which makes ordering always tricky. Even if we did attempt wagon sales it would be a risky move as our city has a ‘do not knock’ policy against solicitation, and going to a neighboring city is tricky due to district boundaries, and the high price point not being worth the time.

If you do decide to do wagon sales I would limit the amount checked out and do it as a group. With at least two leaders in attendance, for a check in/out policy. If families go on their own then have them sign a contract about being financially responsible for it. Something like: they are checking out X amount of product and are financially responsible for responsible for the product and any moneys not turned in.

Good luck with your sales.

Keep in mind that as of October 1, 2018, all Scouting activities require a minimum of 2 registered leaders over the age of 21 be present. This includes group popcorn sales and other group fundraisers.

We always have two or more leaders, but yes, that’s a great reminder.