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Learn how to work with Scouts from different economic backgrounds

scoutcast-logo1Scouting isn’t free.

Yes, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to be a Scout than to participate on a club soccer or lacrosse team. But there’s still a cost in Scouting — dues, uniforms, gear, activity fees, travel expenses, printed materials, and more.

Within one pack, troop, team, or crew you likely have parents who live comfortably and those who live paycheck to paycheck. You could say the socioeconomic status of our Scout families is as diverse as our Scouts themselves.

So how do you handle this situation and give everyone an equal Scouting experience? And what happens if a Scout family’s economic situation changes — perhaps a parent loses a job, for example?

Take some time to ask yourself: Are you doing all you can to handle economic diversity within your troop?

Start by listening to the June 2013 ScoutCastJoining the hosts for this important topic is the team leader of the Council Fund Development Team, Mark Moshier, who shares ways to keep funds from hindering a Scout’s involvement.

And continue the conversation by sharing your ideas in the comments section below.

The most important CubCast ever

Cub Scout leaders, if you only listen to one CubCast this year, this should be it. 

cubcast-logoIt sounds like hype, but it’s not.

After all, the June 2013 CubCast is all about planning the Cub Scout year. And if you fail to plan, well, you know what happens.

Hilda Blaine, a five-year Cub Scout volunteer extraordinaire with the Grand Canyon Council in Phoenix, shares everything you need to plan your Cub Scout year.

In just 8 minutes and 38 seconds, you’ll learn some proven ways to make your Cub Scouting experience easier — all in the spirit of “keep it simple; make it fun.”


Photo from Flickr:  Some rights reserved by 401(K) 2013

27 Comments on Learn how to work with Scouts from different economic backgrounds

  1. Duane R. Martin // May 31, 2013 at 2:44 pm // Reply

    I have a Committee Chair who sent out an e mail to all Troop families, that if the Scout did not participate in Unit fundrasing, or sell “enough” tickets to the Unit spaghetti dinner, that Scout would have to purchase his own merit badges, rank insignia etc. Recourse?

    • Bob Basement // June 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm // Reply

      Why the thumbs down???

      Merit badges and rank insignia aren’t free????

      So Duane does your unit collect dues or a program fee??

      If not you need to then buy the boys their badges….

      Our unit has struggled with boys not participating in fundraising and then having their hands out…..

  2. Deaf Scouter // May 31, 2013 at 2:46 pm // Reply

    Excuse me for NOT joining the ‘listening-cast’ event today as I THINK I have a good reason… *laughing

    Kidding aside, as a single mom, scout expenses were something we dealt with. When there were fundraisers like the annual popcorn and etc., we put MUCH effort into sales selling to increase our scout account balances yearly. We raised enough to help pay for both my son and I so the out of pocket was way less. Setting aside a monthly amount was another helper even if it was only $10 – $20.

    The troop was a big helper in ‘planning ahead’ meaning reserving summer camp spots in September and making reservations for the yearly bigger trip like out of state white water rafting, Gettysburg, Smuggler’s Notch Scout Rally weekend and etc. That helps in being able to set up payment installment plans with due dates (usually three installments). Making is a habit yearly helps with small budget. Its ingrained that Summer camp payment was January, March and May. Breaking down big amounts to smaller payments over several months is a HUGE help than expecting a last minute payment of Big amount that looks MEGA on a small budget. Make Be Prepared to include the concept of PLAN AHEAD.

    Another aspect is letting families know about campership as many are not aware. I wasn’t aware until the Troop let us know.

    One thing I know is don’t let economic hardship stop you from ScOUTING. There are other ways to help a Troop or Pack that include time and effort rather than money that has HUGE awards in itself that is appreciated by many.

    • Bob Basement // June 2, 2013 at 11:49 am // Reply

      So whose idea is the Big trips???

      The PLC, probably not.

      With the changes in IRS policy regarding fundraising is it worth the risk to your Chartered Organizations Tax Exempt status to benefit individuals…

      Deaf using your son’s ISA account for your self is really messed up

      • Deaf Scouter // June 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm // Reply

        Sorry Bob but using my son’s Scout for both of us, I have to disagree with you. I walked those miles to help him sell over $800 -$1000 worth while most only sold about $50 -$100. We worked the twice the shifts for Christmas Tree sales that was expected. Brought in money for the spaghetti dinner fundraiser. I went on MOST campouts along with my son just like that core of fathers did. i was a VERY ACTIVE scout parent and THANKS to Scouting my son and I got to experienced many things we wouldn’t have TOGETHER if it hadn’t been for ScOUTING.
        We got ONE campership from the Troop that just happened to be our last year summer camping because it was the first time BOTH of us went to summer camp.

        My point is one can pay for ScOUTING regardless of their income level but one also NEEDS to expend some energy in fundraising. If parents choose not to, then they can come up with the monies. I never once cried ‘poor’ cuz the reality is I’m NOT even if I make under 20,000 a year!

        • Bob Basement // June 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm //

          That is really weak….

          I could give a hoot how much you earn…..Leeching off your sons scout account to attend as well.

          That was never the intent of scout accounts…..They are not called Scouter, Parent or adult accounts….

          I wonder if the IRS knows about your other source of income.

        • Deaf Scouter,
          At least in our troop, much to Bob’s disagreement, we’d cover your expense as an adult chaperone to go to camp with your son. Without adults we can’t go to camp. Some camps include the cost of 1 adult for every 5 or 6 campers. Some don’t, most don’t charge adults as much as youth because we’re helping out at camp, their only expense for us is food. We don’t set up accounts for our parents, we cover it. If a Scout can’t afford to go to camp, we cover whatever the scout account doesn’t cover. If he just bridged over and didn’t participate in popcorn or luminaria with the troop we cover it. IF the troop were running low on money and couldn’t cover all of the adults and Scouts that need help, we’d probably ask the adults that can afford to cover camp for themselves to cover it before we turned a Scout down for help to go to camp.

          With respect to the extra income, money we as adult leaders spend for scouting for our participation is TAX DEDUCTIBLE. Uniforms, gas/mileage, camping fees, training, gear, and books are all tax deductible. Generally speaking you’d need to exceed $600 in a year before someone would need to write a 1099 for the extra income. I’m not a CPA, but I believe that is the level that requires a 1099.

        • Bob Basement // June 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm //

          I think she hit the magic 600 buck easy…..

        • Bob Basement // June 14, 2013 at 8:03 am //

          My understanding regarding tax deductible is only training, uniforms and milage to and from training are deductible…..

          You cannot deduct monthly campouts and such….

        • Bob,
          When I attended IOLS about 4 years ago an accountant gave a brief talk and advised that we can deduct expenses related to outings. I don’t normally worry about the food on an outing or the cost of a whitewater trip or ski trip, but I did count expenses for Philmont and Sea Base. Check with your own accountant, I’m not one and I don’t play one on TV but that is the advice we got.

  3. I let every parent know when their sons join the Troop to come to me if they ever can’t afford a trip. We have paid for summer camp, ski trips, whitewater rafting trips and we paid for a scout to go to Philmont along with a campership from the council. We try to keep the cost of scouting as low as possible but want to experience some fun outings (ski trip, whitewater rafting). We typically go out of council for summer camp and actually got a partial campership from the out of council camp for two of our boys in the past. We cover the gas and camper fee for adults attending summer camp, we don’t expect them to burn a week of vacation and several hundred dollars to chaperone kids to camp.

    • Bob Basement // June 2, 2013 at 11:54 am // Reply

      Who says scouting isn’t for the rich?????

      I bet just your program for the year is $800 plus….

      so you charge the boys so the adults can go to summer camp free….that is pretty messed up.

      I can’t believe you have the audacity of asking for camperships when your unit goes skiing and whitewater rafting…..

      That is why the truely needed don’t receive them.

      • Bob Basement // June 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm // Reply

        That is $800 per scout

        • Bob,
          For the ski trip everyone pays their own way. The trip runs about $85 food, gas, skis, lift ticket and lesson, not a bad deal. If a Scout needs help we offer it to them, same with a whitewater trip. This past weekend we went to the Old Hickory Council Scout Day at the National Whitewater Center near Charlotte NC. The cost was $60 a person. With an extra $15 built in to cover gas and reimburse the drivers for gas, typically they’re getting $30 of their own money back $15 for them and $15 for their son. The trip is 3 hours away so there and back is a tank of gas in most cars. Typical weekend outings are $15 for food, the troop covers any program fees, campsite fees, etc. Unless the distance is great drivers cover their own gas. The tow vehicle gets reimbursed for gas mainly because it falls on a couple of parents to tow. Summer camp runs about $300 out of council.

          With respect to covering adults costs for camp, most are parent and paying for their sons to go. So let’s ask them to pay $300 for their son, and another $150 for themselves plus another $100 for gas and take a week off from work. Yeah that seems right. The parents that go to camp typically are the ones on most outings, the ones out there driving the kids for Luminaria sales at Christmas, at the Eagle projects and serving the troop in many ways.

          The Council offered camperships, we were willing to cover the cost for the scouts in question if the camperships didn’t come through. One Scout’s father was unemployed the other was going through cancer treatment. I’ve told all the parents in the Troop if money is an issue between your son and any outing to come to me (former SM and current COR) or the SM or the committee chair and we’ll take care of it. We never want the cost of scouting to stop a kid from going to camp.

          We also allow the kids to accumulate money in Scout accounts from popcorn and Luminaria sales to pay for scouting activities. Any money left over after the age out or leave stays with the troop.

          Not counting high adventure I’d put our cost at $500-600 per year per Scout if they attend all outings. We’re in an affluent suburb of Raleigh, that’s not to say that all of our Scouts are affluent. But again, if they need help we’ll give it to them. The troop operates on about $7000 a year through Luminaria sales and corporate volunteer grants.

        • Bob Basement // June 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm //

          So just your program cost $1000 a year????? and from what I gather plus high adventure so your program cost could be $2k a year????

          I pay for both my son and I to attend summer camp…..Yes the other adult and I take time off work, I never viewed it as much of a sacrifice…

          But isn’t that part of the selfless service in scouting?????

          So what are you going to do with scout accounts being a risk to the CO???

        • Bob,
          I took my son to Philmont last summer and paid both of our ways, so that was over $4k. I didn’t expect the Troop to cover that expense.

          I’ve been to 5 weeks of summer camp and over 130 nights of camping the past 7 years.

          I’m not sure how you’re taking the numbers I gave and getting to $1000 for program costs without high adventure. But with respect to high adventure, Philmont runs $1000 or so, same with Sea Base without getting there. We give the Scouts an opportunity to earn money to offset the expense for a trip of a lifetime.

          I don’t get your complaint, but for that matter I don’t get the point of most of your posts. Our Troop can afford to pay for the adults to go to summer camp, any scout in need will have his expenses covered. And the parents in the troop don’t have an issue with how we price the cost of scouting.

          With respect to Scout accounts we are by no means the only troop to do them. In our area I’d bet there aren’t 2 troops that don’t have scout accounts for popcorn money. With packs the money stays with the pack, but the troops all do scout accounts. In nearly all cases the money raised is at most a couple hundred a year per scout, not enough to trigger a problem for the reading I’ve done on the subject.

          Based on this comment of yours below… what do you suggest?

          “So how in the world to you Deal with Private Benefit and the IRS…….

          Two boys sell $1000 widgets…Yet all 10 members of the Troop get an equal share of it….

          I have no idea how to deal with it…..

          That isn’t right……8 boys stayed home and played video games and still benefited on the backs of the 2 scouts who sold.”

          If we have to shut down crediting the Scouts I’ll stop selling popcorn, we don’t need the money in the troop and it isn’t worth the effort.

        • Bob Basement // June 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm //

          Money is always a struggle with cash for us…..

          Our program with summer camp is $400.

          I can see this IRS ruling significantly hurting our program.

        • Bob,
          Even if we stayed in Council, our summer camp is over $250 a camper. Spending July 4th week in the Sand Hills of NC sweating all night isn’t in the cards for our troop, so we pay a bit more to travel into the mountains to enjoy a cool night’s sleep. We try to keep the cost of scouting affordable by limiting our long distance trips to about 3 a year, summer camp, the ski trip and the whitewater trip.

          I am leaving high adventure out of the equation. We give the scouts an opportunity to earn money to pay for the camps and we pay for scouts if there is a need.

          I didn’t get to go to Philmont as a Scout and Sea Base didn’t exist until after I aged out. Having gone as an adult with my son to Philmont and my wife, son and daughter to Sea Base to do a liveaboard SCUBA I will strongly encourage all of my Scouts and Venturers to go to both if they can. If there is a true need we have in the past and will likely again in the future help pay their way to go. They are going to have to participate fully in all fund raising opportunities for us to cover their cost.

  4. Matt Smith // May 31, 2013 at 3:58 pm // Reply

    The total cost (set by national) of really joining Scouting is $175.00+. The uniform (one of the 8 methods of Scouting program) costs $150 alone! Just getting fully “up and running” costs a family an arm and a leg.

    -Uniform — $153.41 [Uniform Shirt, $39.99; Scout Pant, $39.99; BSA Uniform Socks, $8.99; BSA Web Belt, $11.99; Uniform Cap, $12.99; Neckerchief, $9.99; Neckerchief Slide, $4.99; Council Strip Patch, $5.55;Unit Numerals, $4.47; Patrol Emblem, $1.99; World Crest Emblem, $1.49; Shoulder Loops, $2.99; Merit Badge Sash, $7.99]
    -Boy Scout Handbook — $9.99
    -Boy Scout Registration Fee — $15.00
    -TOTAL — $178.40

    Plus add in unit dues, monthly campout costs, summer camp, high adventure, annual physicals, necessary camping gear, etc…. the program can cost a family upwards of $600 a year! That means a cash-strapped kid would have to sell almost $2,000 worth of popcorn just to fully participate.

    The uniform and the handbook should be sold at cost (if not a loss) and profit made with all the other merchandise and other paraphernalia the BSA supply division sells. If the uniform is one of the methods of the program, it should be easily accessible at a realistic price… my BSA uniform is the most expensive outfit I own! Having to pay $150 just to fit in and “dress the part” is ridiculous! I know that “hand-me-downs” and uniform exchanges often exist, but nothing cuts a kid’s self esteem like wearing old, worn and (especially now that the BSA has changed to the centennial uniform) outdated uniform parts. Why am I paying $40 for a shirt when I can get one of equal or better quality at Walmart for $10?

  5. Kelly Horton // May 31, 2013 at 4:17 pm // Reply

    I am of hte opinion that scouts is way much cheaper than sports programs. A sport uniform is only worn a few months out of the year. A scout uniform is worn all year around. Camping equipment is used more than once a season.

    If a troop is running properly, every boy wil have the opportunity to earn their way, so the parents income should not matter. I has seen many parents cry poverty for scouting events with tattoos all over, smoking, having an expensive phone or plasma TV, etc. If people have a will, they will make a way. If they want to be a mooch, too bad.

    One of the problems I see is that parents with duel incomes not making their kids earn their way. They will shell out the money which is their choice, but when money is easy to come by, it is not appreciated. I think that is worse than the lower income boys not having enough money for scouting.

    • Bob Basement // June 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm // Reply

      Kelly I agree that it is about adult priorities….

      I have a dad that just posted on facebook he bought a new $10k quad…he had just applied for a campership for his scout to attend summer camp.

      Or the moms that come in with the latest Iphone, manicured nails and the latest hair cut asking for camperships…..Nope not gonna happen….

      I have paid for boys who could not afford summer camp, only for them to show up after their family vacation sharing their Disney or cruise pictures.

      I have very mixed emotions about this……Do you let the boys suffer or not experience scouting because their parents refuse to pay?

      I don’t know

      There are several of my boys I will pay for…They are truly poor and I know the family and their history.

      • Kelly Horton // June 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm // Reply

        Bob,

        It is not you as a scout leader that allows the boys to suffer. It is the parents doing. Scout leaders are not to step on the toes of the parents. You are a leader not a replacement for the parents! If they want to waste their money on games and toys and let their own kids suffer, it is their choice.

        I had boys in Royal Rangers that wanted to go to week long camp. It only cost $125. (BSA camps are about $300 correct?) Boy did I hear the poverty screaming over this. Never mind that we had 5 fundraising events before summer camp. These boys wanted to earn their own way, but the parents were too lazy to help out. So hardly any money was raised by some of the boys. Some boys went and the others stayed home. They try to put me on a guilt trip over it. It didn’t work with me.

        The boys had single parents, MOM made sure they boys did the fundraising and showed up to work. So in this case the “rich” kids stayed home and the “poor” kids went to camp. These single moms knew they had made some poor desicions and were in a welfare hole trying to get out of it. Royal Rangers and Boy Scouts are the few groups that will allow a boy to earn his own way. That is what I like out the uniforms. It is hard to tell the economic levels of the boys if they are all dressed in the same uniforms.

        I actually did get a $100 donation from a person in my church. The wanted a boy to go to camp. I split it 5 ways and 5 boys got a MATCHING $20 campership. It wasn’t a giveaway since the boys had to prove themselves and earn the $20 themselves 1st. If they did not earn the $20 it was considered a poor investment of someone else’s hard earned money.

        Oh the “rich” kids. Their parents had no problem sending them to church camp which was $350 per kid. So I am scratching my head on how they were poor for Rangers but all of the sudden had all this money for church camp.

        As I said, “If there is a will, there is a way.” So I fail to see that any scout leader is hurting a boy that can’t afford to go to camp. If the fundraising is there, then they have done their job as a leader. The opportunity has presented itself.

        This is not new. The children of Israel spent 40 years wandering in the dessert. Every day they were provided their daily ration of manna. It wasn’t given to them, they had to go out and collect it. If they did not go out and collect it, oh well, so swell, your family did not have food for the day. Also farmers were instructed to leave some of their crops on the field, so poorer people could go out and gather it. They had to work to gather it and it wasn’t a give away like today’s welfare mentality.

        With regards to uniforms and expences. Just by the shirt and book. The rest can come later. That is what fundraisers are for. A boys that earns his uniform will take care of it. It will more than likely be put on a clothes hanger when it is not in use and not on the floor. It will be nicely pressed and not look like it is slept in.

        Believe me, I have paid out of my own pocket for boys expenses, so I know where you all are coming from. We are in scouting for the boys and not for ourselves, Correct? I think I can hear an Amen of agreement to that.

  6. Bob Basement // June 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm // Reply

    So how in the world to you Deal with Private Benefit and the IRS…….

    Two boys sell $1000 widgets…Yet all 10 members of the Troop get an equal share of it….

    I have no idea how to deal with it…..

    That isn’t right……8 boys stayed home and played video games and still benefited on the backs of the 2 scouts who sold.

    • Set up an account for each Scout, then let them use the proceeds from their own fundraising efforts to pay for the things they need in Scouting (uniforms, handbooks, camping gear, activities, etc.).

      • Bob Basement // June 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm // Reply

        Please listen to the scoutcast listed in the info…at 7:05 they discuss private benefit

        They discuss ISA’s and that they violate your CO’s tax exempt status….

        So unless you are prepared to issue tax statements to all of your scouts… Your in trouble.

  7. Tina Muller // June 3, 2013 at 11:30 am // Reply

    My Tiger and I were the only ones who sold popcorn in our pack, we were also the second highest seller of camp cards. We earned two weeks of day camp. We actuall have $20 left over. If we could donate it to one of the new pack members to go to camp, we totally would.

    He also has a 30 year old hand-me-down cub scout uniform. It was well taken care of and looks brand new. He is very proud of it, especially the fact that it was a hand-me-down. You just have to have the right attitude towards things. He loves the “experience” that his uniform has.

  8. Springs One // June 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm // Reply

    Am interested by all the talk of fundraising, as our troop’s only fundraisers seem to be dues and selling popcorn. The Trail’s End popcorn fundraiser raises almost no money, as the products are of increasingly poor quality, the packaging has been downgraded to the point that the product can no longer be purchased for gift-giving and the cost is ridiculously high — so fewer and fewer of our scouts actually sell. We tried show-and-sell this year, but troop leadership has yet to explain to families what happened to the inventory of unsold popcorn and our losses on the investment. For the first time in years, our troop has developed a 2013 budget. Apparently, the long-standing treasurer had failed to bill for activities for at least a year and a new treasurer is now trying to work out bills. The troop has yet to explain to families what sort of losses we face from the failure to collect for a year of activities and camping from departed scouts. We did away with scout accounts and virtually no expenses are covered by the troop, despite dues in excess of $100 per year. If the troop organizes a merit badge workshop, the participants are billed for any associated costs. For activities and trips, all costs are compiled and split among participants, with patrol food costs being split among patrol participants and paid directly to whoever bought the supplies. Within the past week, I have had to write three different checks to three different families. I would have to pay $15 myself just to be a member of the Troop Committee and all adult volunteers are expected to pay their way on everything, with troop activities charging the same for scouts as for adults. Families propose fundraisers and offer volunteer services, but the scoutmaster limits real awareness of the troop’s finances and even the ability to volunteer. Many parents have completed adult volunteer & merit badge counselor applications for two years running, but the scoutmaster insists they be submitted through him and they never get registered with Council. Despite the lack of budgets, declining membership due to increasing costs and dwindling pool of adult volunteers, our Scoutmaster and his wife receive high adult awards from Council annually bais and the troop earns Journey to Excellence gold — likely based on their own submissions and claims that they do everything (without ever explaining that it’s because they refuse to open the door for other adult volunteers to help.) Parents are afraid to approach District leadership due to fear that there will be no confidentiality and their scouts might face reprisals, as it already can be a couple of months before a scout can get a requested Scoutmaster conference scheduled. However, with the complete lack of budgets and finances in a shambles — to the point that parents fear the Troop may have spent deposits for Philmont & summer camp for other purposes and are waiting to see if we make it through the summer — is there really no oversight of Troops involved in the Journey to Excellence and other Council processes? No expectation of confidential assistance from Council?

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