How four Scouts combined to sell a quarter-million dollars in Scout popcorn

A group of four young men who met at a council popcorn kickoff event in 2012 have since become some of the most prolific popcorn salesmen in the nation.

Together this fantastic four has sold more than $250,000 worth of Scout popcorn, meaning more than $175,000 has gone to support Scouting.

The funds raised stay with the local unit. Many packs, troops and teams use popcorn money to buy equipment, fund camping trips or excursions, or purchase awards and advancement items. (Read more about how Scouting is funded here.)

These days all four young men are members of Venturing Crew 4385 in the Washington Crossing Council, headquartered in Doylestown, Pa. The Scouts are from Mercer County, N.J.

From left to right in the photo above, they are: 15-year-old Donovan F., $95,000-plus in sales; 20-year-old Anderson Monken, $75,000-plus in sales; 13-year-old Elian R., $60,000-plus in sales; and 13-year-old Will C., $20,000-plus in sales.

These four aren’t stopping to count their money, though. As popcorn season gets underway, they’re serving as mentors to other Scouts and Venturers in their unit, district and council.

They know more sales for their fellow Scouts means more money for Scouting. So I asked the Venturers (with permission from their parents) for some of their top popcorn-selling tips. Here’s what they shared. 

1. Know how to respond to a “no”

“Always have a way that person can say yes,” Elian says. “For example, if they say they don’t have cash, let them know that they can pay by credit card. If they say they don’t like popcorn, remind them that they can make a donation to send popcorn to the military. Most of the time this gets them to say yes instead of no. But if they say no, just say ‘thanks anyway’ and ask the next person.”

2. Make time for “one more”

“Push yourself to do ‘just one more,'” Will says. “One more house, one more street, or one more hour.”

3. Keep detailed notes

Will keeps copious notes about the neighborhoods in which he sells. While not everyone purchases the same amount every year, Will does have some loyal customers who remember him as a younger Scout and look forward to catching up with his Scouting adventures at popcorn time every fall.

The notes help him remember what the person bought and a few details about that person (pet’s name, favorite sports team, etc.).

4. Remember our troops

After the customer says yes, but before they go get their payment, Donovan likes to say this: “It is great that we have the freedom to eat Scout popcorn with our friends and family, but there are American men and women serving all over the world that are away from their friends and family protecting our freedoms. Wouldn’t you love to thank them with some Scout popcorn, too?”

Donovan doesn’t say anything until they respond. He just smiles. “Of the $95,000 I have sold in my life,” he says, “more than $20,000 has gone to our servicemen and servicewomen and their families, mostly from continuously using this phrase — but not until after the sale.”

5. Don’t let a missed sale get you down

Like all the parents of these young men, Elian’s mom has seen her son miss out on plenty of sales.

“It is such a great learning experience for the Scout when the customer says no,” she says. “He first has to learn not to take it personally. Then, he has to learn how to manage it. When the boy engages with the customer after an initial ‘no,’ he learns about building a relationship. Like most of life, sales is all about relationships.”

6. Make a personal connection

“Take time to get to know your customer,” Anderson says. “The time spent making a personal connection can be rewarding not only in renewed sales, but also because it makes selling more fun and meaningful. You are an ambassador of the Scouting movement. Don’t just sell popcorn. Show your customers what Scouting has done to help you grow.”

Your top popcorn tips?

So maybe your unit doesn’t have someone who has sold $95,000 in popcorn. But I’m guessing you still have some tips proven to work. Share them below!

79 Comments

  1. Our Pack decided it no longer made economic sense to sell popcorn. The Pack does all of the work and yet we end up with the smallest cut of profit. Our local council doesn’t really actually do much of anything in terms of the actual work yet takes a larger slice than the Pack gets and the popcorn guy wants a 1/3 for himself! No where else in the popcorn industry does the popcorn guy get that kind of a profit margin. With so many council’s now selling popcorn why haven’t they banded together to negotiate a better deal for everyone or take our business to a new popcorn supplier? With the purchasing volume scouting now has our profits should be increasing not staying flat.

    Yet with so many other fund raising products where the profit margin is 50% or better popcorn just no longer makes sense for us. Especially in areas where scouting is popular many units just end up competing with each other for the same customers and dollars so having other fund raising options really becomes necessary.

    Reality is our popcorn sales had been steadily declining for the last 10 years. Many of our customers complained about how expensive items have gotten and the overall lack of low priced item in the $3 to $5 dollar range which is the price point we need for storefront sales. Even in affluent areas customers are balking at paying $50 for a relatively small tin of popcorn… the pricing strategy is completely nuts (no pun intended). The second biggest complaint we get is more and more customers are seriously concerned about microwave popcorn not being something healthy to consume.

    • Actually, 1/3 is not the profit margin for the “popcorn guy.” They manufacture the product, package the product, and ship the product.

      • The same 24 pack of popcorn that is made by Pop-Weaver, the parent company of Trails-end, is sold at Wal-Mart for $5. So if they can produce en mass the popcorn for Wal-Mart for a profit – they can come down off their profit margin that they manufacture for Scouts.

        I mean a $50 tin they get 30% which comes to $15. So how is it that I can get the same product for $5 for an outstanding profit, and the iteration is that they lose money when they box and ship popcorn for the Scouts?

        The Weaver Popcorn Co. (Pop Weaver) makes Trail’s End popcorn for Scouting. Trail’s End Brand Microwavable Kettle Corn, on the Trail’s End website, sells for $49.95 for two 18-pack boxes; this is about $1.39 per bag of microwave popcorn. Pop Weaver Microwavable Kettle Corn (on the Walmart website) sells for $2.00 for a box of 6 bags; this is about 33¢ per bag. Looking at the nutritional information for both, they appear to be about the same product in the same sized bags.The Trail’s End Kettle Corn costs the consumer over FOUR times the money for a nearly identical product to the one purchased at Walmart.

        So there is a lot of room for them to lower their pricing to the BSA.

        • Talk to your council popcorn kernal about switching companies. Trails End is not the only source for scout popcorn. Our council uses Camp Master parent company being Ramsey Popcorn. It was a fantastic switch for our council. Great product wonderful people to work with and It can’t hurt to look into another company and see what they can do for you. Bring it up to your key 3 and popcorn committee.

    • I agree. I’ve had four years of this now as a Den leader and I find its really a pain. We do it right as everyone is coming back and around our fall Campout. We end up with so much thrown at the cub and new parent that it doesn’t make it enjoyable. Combine that with having multiple packs in the area, and you feel like your selling water to drowning people. Wish they would use one of their achievements and do a big recycle metal drive. Big item pickup or something similar.

  2. I’m confused. Two of the boys are 13 and in Crew? Minimum age for Venturing is 14. So how are they in Crew?

    Plus – if you read the article, the 15 year old says, “Of the $95,000 I have sold in my life…”. So this wasn’t all sold in a year, but over years. Still very commendable of him/them, but the article makes it seem like it was all in one seasons sales.

    • Yes, the numbers are not correct. Elian has been selling for four years, Will about that and Donovan and Anderson for 8+ years. These are all of their cumulative numbers. Elian and Will joined the crew (in addition to their troops) when they graduated from 8th grade, which is the alternative to the age 14 minimum.

  3. Great job guys! In our area, military popcorn donations don’t count as sales, so the boys don’t earn anything for selling those (unlike the prizes they get for everything else). Maybe something that should be changed!

    • Might want to clarify with the Support Our Troops not counting. That is a part of the program. The popcorn is SOLD and, in fact, it typically helps the Council balance remaining inventories with Trails End arranging for local deliveries to the Troops who then distribute it locally and world-wide.

  4. In the Northern Lights Council, the unit gets 27% of the gross, with the council taking 43%. I will watch to see what the Council does in the way of publicity.

  5. Should have been a better written and explained article it was over several years. I agree with the article saying should b better prices, much better.

  6. In Indiana (crossroads) the packs get as much as 38% with the rest going to the council. The scouts get an extra 5% in the form of a scout shop voucher that can be used to pay for camp or other fees so you could say that we get as much as 43% back.

  7. It may be heresy, but it seems like we’re teaching the boys to be exactly the kind of salesman that I hate to deal with – not wanting to take “no” for an answer, trying to sell me something I don’t want, trying to upsell after I’ve agreed to buy something. It’s that kind of salesman that really tests my desire to be Courteous.

    • I hate it, too. But salesmanship skills will serve many Scouts well in life.

      This is America. Americans may complain about salesmen, but America loves a salesman who makes it rich.

    • My 7 year old sold about $1500 in popcorn last year. It took him about 4 hours accepted every “no” graciously. 1500 isn’t 27000, but it is a lot more respectful

    • Jordan, I’ve only been out with Elian and the boys in our Pack, but he and they do the opposite. A No is a No and they say, “Thank you anyway,” and move on. (Right away!) But sometimes, someone doesn’t say know and then they try to match the customer with what he/she wants. If someone says he/she wants to buy popcorn or make a donation and doesn’t have cash, it’s good to let that person know that credit cards can be used. or if someone doesn’t like popcorn, but wants to support scouting, it’s a good idea to let that person know how to do that. Luckily, in his first year of selling, Elian saw the (terrible) results a scout got when he was loud and disrespectful and he vowed never to sell like that. I am biased, of course, but I believe his sincere, friendly and courteous approach is a big part of his success. That and spending lots of time selling popcorn each fall…

    • The up sell isnt about getting you to spend more its about making you aware of other options that may be a better value. Like say some one gets a white pretzel and a choco caramel delight total 47…but for 55 they can get dark choco pretzels and triple delight with the original stuff…or if they get a jalapeno and white cheddar for 30…you can get the cheese lover for the Same price and get a free whit cheddar. (Depending on council prices)

  8. Are the boys doing Show and Deliver? We never do Show and Sell/Show and Deliver. It’s an impulse purchase and the customers are turned off by the price point. We’re not selling a $4 dollar box of cookies here folks. Door to door sales work very well for us. The Scout always leads the sale with “Hello, my name is…. I’m trying to raise money to do XYZ with my Scout troop. Would you like to make a donation and receive some delicious popcorn?” Promote your PROGRAM! Our troops can earn up to 38% commission. Great money in a week or two of selling and a lot less work than finding kids and parents to staff a sales booth for 1 or 2 months, plus storing all that inventory!

    • Dear Ms. Scott,
      This is Elian, one of the scouts. I do both Show & Sell and Take Order (Door-to-Door) Sales. Both are very successful and actually the per-hour sale amount is roughly the same. You have to do what works for you and your area. Both work for me, so I do both. I don’t do Show & Deliver, because it goes much more slowly for me. I have some people surprised at the prices, but many of them understand when they hear the numbers – over $7 for every $10 spent goes to local scouting! To me, money supporting our Council is supporting local scouts, just like money that goes to the Troop or Pack or Crew. That’s a really effective fundraising percentage. I agree with you that telling people what the money goes for is really important. For us, it’s paid for camperships, equipment (Pinewood Derby timers to tents to cooking gear to a shed!), Blue & Gold Dinners and more. For everyone reading, whatever you do, I hope it is successful. And if it’s not, hopefully you’ll find something that is!

  9. After reading the comments I am really glad that our pack made the decision to not sell popcorn long before we got involved in scouting. We sell chocolate bars for one dollar. The cub scouts sell them in between mass on Sundays and at elementary school sporting events. They sell quickly and easily. Some families have a parent take a case to work and say they sell quickly there too. It’s not too much to ask a neighbor to spend a dollar to support local scouting. You just need to ask a lot more people.

  10. The candy bars sell, but how many more people do you have to ask, and how much extra work is it, to earn the same amount in commission per hour? My son sells about $150 per hour in popcorn, meaning about $53 in commission per hour. What is the commission rate on the candy bars? Let’s say it’s 50 cents. That means that you’ll have to sell 106 candy bars in the same hour to earn that kind of money. That’s a lot of people you’re son is going to be asking in one hour. Granted, it’s my understanding that popcorn just doesn’t do well in some areas. I was told that it doesn’t do well in my area. However, when my son and I just decided to jump in and give it a try with a positive attitude, I was surprised how easy it was. And the incentives offered by our Council, combined with the scholarship program, really do make it a worthwhile endeavor, imho.

    • Traditionally candy split 50/50 with a unit. So $150 will yield $75 for the unit. If they do it the right way. Some candy companies try to take more, but the reputable companies all used to work at 50/50. So if they were moving the same amount per hour as popcorn they be getting more for the unit.

      If a candy company isn’t offering 50/50, search for one that does. They are out there.

    • Our Troop sells popcorn, but our Pack sells candy bars at a price point of $1 a bar. 40 bars in a tote. I took my son and a buddy of his to a parking lot where a lot of fans were tailgating before a University of Wisconsin football game. In just under two hours, the boys sold 13 totes. The only thing that impeded them from selling more is that we sold out of the totes. Yes, the profit was $0.50, but it was easy selling. This was their Webelos II year, so there was no further opportunity to sell candy bars. Not everyone has, or wants, to pay even the minimum for popcorn. But most have a buck in their pocket.

      I can’t stand “sales” time for scouting. I’m not a natural salesman. But I understand it needs to be done one way or the other.

    • So how does selling candy bars help the council….I see its a 50/50 split for the unit but does it help the council? Last year our pack with 13 boys sold 40k in popcorn which 14k went to council camp scholarships and camp needs. Thats about 66 boys that can go to camp on scholarship or 40 new canvas tents for all families to enjoy.

      • Jacob,

        That is awesome! For your 13 Scouts, there was clearly a great camping and scouting experience earned for them AND you were able to help “Pay It Forward” to many many Scouts in your Council as well.

        That is a great feeling for our Scouts to learn at a young age!

  11. These boys have sold the Scout Program through a process that is VERY Scout supportive for their Scout careers (Trail’s End). The marketing on the package promotes scouting. The Councils support that Units rely on is not FREE folks. The more fundraisers you do with no support for Council just makes things harder on your Volunteer Leaders as the Professional resources dry up. This program supports both the local Council and the Local Units (and markets Scouting in general).

    It is easy to just say something is hard. That is not the culture that Scouting should be teaching our Scouts. These Scouts have learned that their hard work supports Scouting and not just a selfish personal cause. There are many scouts that benefit from these programs that do not have the opportunities that these Scouts have.

    Clearly, no 4 Scouts have sold $250,000 in popcorn in ONE year. The article at Scouting.org/Scoutcast RIGHT NOW is about the fact that you can still be very successful young “businessmen” and sell Scouting/Popcorn even though you are not just doing “easy” (insert $1 candy bar here) sales based upon cuteness. A Scout EARNS his own way. We as Leaders are able to teach them that.

    These Scouts have been mentors and mentorees for each other in the same District for years. They have been in the same and different Packs. They have been in different Troops. Now they Venture together (yes 13 year olds are Venturers out of eighth grade). They still are Leaders in their home Troops. They still are students and athletes. They still spend their time doing mentoring sessions with other Scouts (and Scoutcast interviews). One has already been Junior College student of the Year for his STATE. They still do a good turn DAILY (see Bryan On Scouting Blog on Elian within the past year).

    I’m not sure why our country seems to be allergic to our Youth being successful at something on an uniquely high level. (They are not the Captain of the football Team maybe?) These Scouts even note that having a VALID method to answering an objection is important — BUT — ALWAYS ending with a very respectful Thank You for your time is paramount — especially for NO’s. (At Scouting.org/Scoutcast listen to the conversation about the customer that said NO 3 years in a row and yet through POLITE PERSISTENCE each year, the next 3 years were YES and the family had actually had a Scout son themselves that they were very proud of. Clearly this isn’t the typical “Don’t ever take no for an answer” sales approach that everyone HATES.)

    Kudos to these Scouts and to all of the Scout Families that spend their time showing their young Scouts that “LIFE AIN’T FREE” so use your Youth to work on MANY Diverse Scouting skills that will serve you and your family well in good times and in bad! (And Kudos for Trails-End for providing and championing a program for over 4 decades that has supported Scouting on ALL LEVELS with only 27% going back to them — Scouts sell SCOUTING not “Trails End Poocorn”!)

    • Just for the record, then…councils contract their popcorn sales on their own. Some use trails end, some don’t.

      At my point, I don’t need the professional’s help…honestly, leave me to handle what I’m doing myself, because I WILL wind up telling them all the ways they miss their own national rules. And showing it to them. If the professional training required them to know all the manuals we need to follow, there would be fewer things to correct.

      So while I will encourage a unit to sell popcorn IF THEY WANT TO I prefer to avoid selling anything if a unit can skip it.

  12. The first sentence of the second paragraph, “The funds raised stay with the local unit” is somewhat misleading. In scouting, a unit is a pack, troop, etc. To my knowledge there are no units that get to keep the profits. Their Council will get half of that, so the amount going to the local unit is more like $87K instead of $175K. That is peanuts for all the work the boys put into this.

    I agree with Baden and Powell that scouting needs to find a different fundraiser or at least have options. Our pack gets all of the same complaints that he mentioned and our scouts do all of the same things the boys in the article do.

    • As a parent that has spent hundreds of hours with my son shadowing him (from the car with his phone on speaker or a radio when the Scout was younger) so he can be independent and learn skills that will last him a LIFETIME. I can tell you that we consider $87K for the Council and f$87K or the local Units to be “peanuts for all the work the boys put into this.” (Incidentally our Council is debt-free, has great professionals, AND up to 40% of our Trail’s End sale gets to go back to the Units. We let our Scouts know that learning fiscal responsibility at a young age and practicing it is very important in having aspects of their lives that remain in good fiscal shape.

      Around all of the other obligations that these Scouts have that keep them busy, they can each sell about $1200-$1500 in Scouting (yes, that is what they sell) in just 6-8 hours (whether show and sell, sell and deliver, or take order). That is netting $875 to $1100 for Scouting if the product is Trails End.

      Sure, they could TRY to sell 1200-1500 CANDY BARS in 6-8 hours but there is no way it would happen. The price point is WAY too low. With 10 years of coordinating popcorn sales for all ages from 1st grade through high school, ANYTHING less than a $10 starting price point hurts your Scouts’ overall sales numbers. (Pack still sells over $25k 8 years in a row with about 50 Scouts. The starting price point is $10 and we’ve tested $5 and $1 before and sales go WAY DOWN.) Selling candy bars, the Scouts would still then only get 2/3 ($600-$750) of what the Trails-End would net for Scouting (and the Council would get NONE of that.)

      These Scouts (as many do) participate in Unit, District, Council, Area, Regional, National, and even World Scouting events. These would not be possible without our Councils and Professionals. Just a fact of life. A fact of life that Scouts can choose for themselves to learn at an early age.

      As you can see from Elian’s post, these are good kids that have good ambitions and GREAT plans to accomplish them. To note, few of them sold more than $1000 in a year prior to about 3rd or 4th grade — SO — most of what they have sold was past the age that most PARENTS give up on their Scouts helping to fund Scouting (other than personal minimums to survive in the Troop).

      Again, KUDOS to these and many more Scouts across the country that are like them.

  13. It’s a little thing, but the Mercer Area district is in New Jersey, not Pennsylvania. So the headline on Facebook is not accurate.

    • Actually, the Mercer Area District now belongs to the Bucks County Council in Pennsylvania. So while Mercer County itself is in New Jersey, this area is now a district in Pennsylvanias council.

  14. My scout sold over $6000 last year as an 11 year old. From age 6-11 his sales have totaled over $22,000 in a rural area. He also is on swim team, a soccer team, served as a den chief (so 2 scout meetings a week) last year, is in 4h, participates in fall campouts each month, and takes a fall vacation with his grandparents each selling season. That leaves him with half the weekends available to sell. He works very hard and has learned so much from fundraising. He has paid his own way since he joined scouting (and mine when attending events). He has participated in every district and council event, earned every cub scout award, and is on the same path in boy scouts now. He attended 3 weeks of boy scout camp last summer and this summer. He researches scout offerings, keeps a list of things he wants to try, practices his knots and lashings constantly, and studies his handbook and field guide. He also has a brain injury that causes physical and severe learning disabilities that he works hard to overcome. He is truly an amazing young man who really loves scouting!

  15. Let me add that my son practises all the above tips except #4 and has never been pushy. He has actually had people find him a few houses down or come back to his booth to buy from him because he was so polite and kind. He has been known to take a break from selling to catch loose dogs, help carry items, and assist people. He also mentors younger scouts and takes them with him on his route to build their confidence. He even splits the sales with them 50/50. He is a wonderful young man and true scout.

  16. Our council does a great job organizing many events throughout the year. This is only possible due to popcorn sales.

    Our pack has move away from relying on an individual sales model, in favor of a group model. We do storefront sales as well as neighborhood group sales. The boys love working as a team, and we attribute sales, for prize purposes, to all the boys that participated in events that day. No getting stuck at a bad store or a neighborhood with nobody home.

    Our pack provides additional incentives for achieving pack, den, and individual goals. And a lottery using tickets earned for selling, and hosting sales events. Our goal is to have every boy sell and be proud of what they have achieved as a group. We recognize that selling is the parent’s time and effort as well as the boy’s, and that not every parent has an equal amount of available time to commit. No boy should feel put off or embarrassed by low sales.

    Last year, our first big year of focusing on group sales, we exceeded our goal and we are beginning this year with a surplus. We are planning using this surplus to help boys participate in scouting where cost is a factor, put on an event open to everyone, and fund a service project.

    We thank everyone for supporting scouting, because we know that most people have , or will, at some time.

  17. Our troop is no longer selling popcorn because frankly, it is a terrible product and Trail’s End offers no items at a reasonable price-point. We need items comparable to a $4 box of terrific cookies! In the past we have broken open the microwave popcorn box and sold the individual bags for $1 each and that does better but probably not technically allowed. At this point it’s a moot point because we don’t like the product itself and we’ve stopped selling it. I hope BSA can come up with something else!

    • Troop Treasurer,

      Thank you for bringing up these items. As Bryan asks above, there are many “Tips that are proven to work” and here are a couple of more:

      Keep in mind that the $4 Cookies net DIMES of money to the Units and you seldom have people/businesses buy $20-$100-$250 worth as you can see with popcorn. $4 get a lot of YES answers but not much actual support for Scout Units. Trails-End has been providing 70+% to Scouting with approximately 1/2 (or more) of that to the Units and half to the Councils that support them. As the parent of a Girl Scout who sees the economics of the difference in real life, she can’t wait to get out of 8th grade and really support Scouting (as a Venturer selling Trails End) rather than to continue supporting the Girl Scout cookie factories.

      In fund raising, beaking items down to less than a $10 starting price nets more YES answers and less NO answers. It does not net more sales in any way shape or form. Thise price points do make parents happier that their Scouts do not hear NO as often. As Elian’s mom notes in the article above, Scouts that learn how to mentally and emotionally handle the “no” in life grow to be immensely more confident.

      This “perhaps unpopular opinion” is coming from a decade of working with Scouts of a Pack, a Troop, a District, and recently a Crew. People that want to give $1-$5 will just donate it. They are not wanting a $1-$2 candy bar or even microwave popcorn. They just want to say YES. The reality is, most “buying customers” by far are okay with $10-$20 items — BUT — if you put a $1 or $5 item in front of them, that will be the maximum price point you will get. I wish sometimes that Scouters across the country could “drop in” on our Pack’s Show and Sells sometimes. A Leader, 2-3 Parentd, and 4 Scouts have consistently sold over $100/hour/Scout for nearly 10 years in our Pack with a $10 minimum price point. When we’ve “tested” lowering the starting price point, sales have went down AND directly offered (non-solicited) donations have fallen through the floor.

      Again, just PROVEN tips as Bryan asked for.

  18. I understand that some units feel the popcorn is an expensive item to sell and candy bars etc are not only easier but the unit keeps 100 percent of the profit However I would hope the units not participating in council sponsored sales realize that local councils use the funds they receive for the upkeep of their local BSA camps and other district/council sponsored events that all local units enjoy attending. I feel it is somewhat selfish to only think about individual unit profit and not consider the big picture. I would hope they at least offer service hours to the local district to work on campground improvement projects or in some other way give support to their local district/council. Without funds available some campgrounds will end up being in disrepair and unsafe for the scouts.

    • Good question! (I wish it would be as easy to give you s similarly good answer on this one.)

      Really, it entirely varies from Scout to Scout and Unit to Unit (and even District/Council to District/Council). Even among these 4 Scouts that have spent so much time with each other sharing ideas over the years in the same Council, the same District, and often even the same Unit, they all have entirely unique approaches.

      Where some methods work really well for some Scouts and other methods work really well for other Scouts, what you will find is that just like in learning a business (which is what these Scouts are actually learning to do at this young age), your results will vary and the most important thing is that you do what makes you (your Scout) unique among his/her peers.

      One thing is for sure. Whether it be Show and Sell, Sell and Deliver, Take-Orders, selling alone, selling with others, even a small bit of online sales, these Scouts have TRIED / DONE it all at one point or another.

      • I was simply asking for some suggestions that we might try. We do our Show and Sell as a Troop and have had limited success. Seems like you just danced completely around the questions with some vague generalizations. I realize everyone is different, and what works for one might not work for another, but it makes me curious why you aren’t willing to share this information. Kind of makes me question the genuineness of your statements- “these are the types of scouts that would rather help other scouts sell”.

        • Not unwilling to share at all. Seriously, it takes trial and error in your specific area.

          I know that just with these four Scoutts, they have sold at big box stores like Lowe’s, Walmart, Home Depot, ShopRite, Staples, etc. etc. but there’s no real specific formula as to which work on any given day. car washes, Pizza Places, Diners, Parks, Community Gatherings, Churches, Schools, Sporting Events, Gas Stations, etc. If there are people and willing managers/owners then there is possibility.

          Even among these FOUR Scouts, they talk a lot (and disagree a lot) about what works best. They all agree that staying home and NOT selling doesn’t work (although they have all sold on the phone to friends and relatives as well.

          I started by saying I WISH IT WOULD BE AS EASY . . .

          No reason to feel there is some cover-up. It’s just that walking through a door of a place with a Scout or a few and asking for permission and trying/failing, trying/succeeding. Rinse / Repeat / etc. is the only way to get these things to really work for you and your Scouts.

    • Hi! This is Elian’s mom. Sorry I couldn’t respond over the weekend. We have tried many different types of Show & Sells. Here is a run down of what we have done.

      Big Hardware Store: We have had mixed success with these. We find that it takes many hours of time, because the customers come in such spurts. If you can be there all day (i.e. 10 hours), it will likely turn into a very good day. But if you are only there for a few hours (i.e. 4-5 hours), it may not be the best option for you.

      Walmart/Discount Store: We have had very little success at Walmart. Generally speaking, people who are headed to Walmart or a discount store are headed there to save money. We got some $1 donations, but we also have many people avoiding us and quite a few people being rude. After our one experience, I would not bring our Cub Scouts back there again.

      Local Grocery Store: we have a number of local grocery stores that are very supportive of scout Show & Sells. Generally speaking, this is another location at which you should plan to be there all day. When we go to the grocery store we are usually there from 9:00 – 6:00. While we sell fewer boxes and bags of popcorn, we do get many, many donations.

      Town Center: We have great success at our local town center, Palmer Square. Not only do we see people in town that we know, but we have a nice little shopping district and many people come out on a nice weekend afternoon. We generally set up for 4-5 hours in the middle of the afternoon.

      Convenience Store: We have had a very good experience at our local convenience store, Wawa. We are lucky in that Wawa supports all of the scouts in our area by planning one weekend of Wawa show and sells. We used to sell for 6 hours there (9:00-3:00), but they changed the standard times this year to 10:00-2:00. However, even with the shorter timeframe, I’m confident that this will continue to be a great location for us.

      Local Restaurant: This is one of our greatest locations. We go to our local pizza parlor, Conte’s, on Friday and Saturday nights. We usually start around 4:00 and finish around 9:30. They are very busy, with several rushes, and are very supportive of Elian’s efforts. Elian has created a very good relationship with them and that is what has made the biggest difference. For example, the staff ask us all year when we are coming back and when popcorn season is beginning.

      I hope this helps!! You can PM me on Facebook if you would like more information or go to boyscoutpopcornsale.blogspot.com to see Elian’s thoughts on Show & Sells.

    • It helps if one lives in a vibrant town with lots of people walking around. Locally-owned restaurants with good foot traffic, e.g., “Conte’s Pizza,” have worked out well for us. Big shopping malls (that allow Scouts to sell at busy entrances/exits) can be good too, but . .

      We are lucky to live in Princeton, NJ which has very caring, very engaged community. The local hotel, the Nassau Inn, gives us space to sell Christmas trees and also places an order for popcorn for their repeat guests. Our Eagle Scout projects for various parks and institutions regularly get good press coverage. Besides Scouting, there are lots of not-for-profits that people (like us) support. It’s the opposite of anonymity as folks want to connect and support one another.

      While $15~$20 is a lot of money for a bag of popcorn, we are fortunate that enough people in the Princeton area, see it as a $12~$15 donation to a civic club that does good work.

  19. All the comments above are great comments. Scott Fisher made some great points along with Elian and his mother. My son Luke was number two in the nation last year for Trails End and has been number one in the SF bay area for two years. He has traveled to three cities and has given classes up on stage by himself in front of up to 430 people. He is 11. He has been offered about 50 jobs and talks directly with owners and presidents of companies. Some have even asked if he can come teach their salespeople.

    What does he sell? Not popcorn. He sells himself, his scouting program, and the need to help others. He sells philanthropy. He gave away 60% of his profits last year. If he sold chocolate bars he would probably sell them for $5 a bar because that is what he knows he is worth and what his program is worth.

    If you are selling popcorn then your doing it all wrong and you are probably breaking open the microwave popcorn selling it by the bag like we did when we first started. But then we realized this would not get us to our goal. We needed donations. Then we realized that the panhandlers on the corner is making more than us by long shot. Why do people guve money to him but we can’t sell a bag of popcorn? Then we found the answer. Peolle give to him because they feel like they are help I the community by giving this guy a meal or room for the day. So we started selling our community service of our pack. Road clean up, park clean up, health fair booth, science fair booth, food drives, etc. Then the people started buying our community service through scouting through the popcorn. Thats where you find success.

    This year Luke is raising money for Troop 2 at the California School for the Blind, James B West and an orphanage. We have people who help Luke because they know he will help the community, that they are supporting a leader, and they are supporting our council. Many who bought from Luke are already declaring him as a ballot write in for president in 2040.

    But the other benefits are that Luke will have $20k in his trails end scholarship account when he is done and will have raised huge sums for the council, for others and his personal goals. He has learned about his community and the businesses in them. Percision machine shops that build parts for the space shuttle, mini stream train shop, printing companies, foam packaging, furniture manufacture, supply chain warehouses and had tours of many of them. He has learned how to recognize a need in one and has helped business make connections with other local business to help the other. Like a printing company that hires out there banner making and there was a banner place just around the corner. Now Luke gets free thank you cards printed by the printer because he helped them save money on the banners. Both places order popcorn from Luke.

    This isnt just about popcorn. Its a community affair and a life skill for the scout. He will have to sell a lot of stuff in his life….himself at an Eagle review board, himself to a college entrance application, to his employer in an interview for a job or, a raise, or to a future wife. We can teach them to settle for the minimum or teach them how to add value to a product, like themselves. Why should some but an over priced $20 bag of popcorn from Luke? Ask him he will tell you, because you are helping more people than you can imagine by your donation to scouting.

    • This is exactly what these boys (and soon I am sure there will be a Nationally Ranked female Venturer — just wait and see) get out of this program. Jacob is exactly right.

      I’ve see “Popcorn Scouts” have eye-to-eye conversations with Generals and Lt. Governors because that is WHAT IT TAKES to set up times to show support for our returning Troops. I’ve seen “Popcorn Scouts” interviewed by those who typically interview CEO’s, General Managers, and other business executives. “Popcorn Scouts” that are selected as Students of the Year for their state. “Popcorn Scouts’ that have articles written about them because they are never too “big headed” to do a good turn DAILY (and often two or three when possible).

      Before posting a negative comment about the programs that these Scouts do to support their own way, the way of other Scouts in their communities, and even the way of various aspects of their entire communities, think about why their would be ANY REASON to reflect negatively on what they do. There are PLENTY of ways that Units can support themselves and their Scouts. There is NO DOUBT from thousands of Scouts across the country that Trail’s End IS one of them (and HAS BEEN one of them long before many of the others were even considered).

      We KNEW that Donovan had truly learned something of Scouting and of Life when in 2012 he was looking forward to leading his District, his Council, and his State as Anderson was going to college and stopping his “scout sales career” that year. Anderson, Donovan, and Elian had sold $9400, $9200, and $4100 (or so) the previous year so Donovan had a good chance to top those numbers significantly. Donovan and Elian started sharing tips with each other and mentoring back and forth but Elian was 2 grades behind Donovan. In 2012, Donovan and Elian ended up as 3rd and 4th in the country with $17,000+ and $16000+ sold. When we told Donovan that for the 4th year in a row he was SECOND in his District, Council, and State (this time to Elian), his IMMEDIATE response was “That is SO COOL that Elian and I learning from each other helped make us 3rd and 4th in the country. He was not even phased that Elian had outsold him.

      This is the type of successes that Jacob is talking about. These are the kind of Scouts that would actually RATHER help other Scouts sell and and help other Scouts gain confidence and success than they would to even “succeed” (i.e. win) themselves.

      Kudos to Luke and to all of the other “Popcorn Scouts” out there (regardless of what they “sell” to really SELL SCOUTING)!

      • Its funny you say that. Luke was asked a couple of time if he will be number one this year….his reply. “Probably not because I am out there training others how to be great. It is possible that I will train someone that will be better than me.” His goal isnt even to be number one. Last year his goal wasn’t to be number two or even number three but to go out and do his best and help others. His goal was to raise enough to go to World Scout Jamboree until he found out he had to be 14. Popcorn has funded many trips to philmont, northern tier, national jamboree, sea base.

        Trails end did a great top seller video of 2014 number one ben, a five palm eagle scout, and luke. Along with a training video of luke. I encourage any parents that wants to help their scout sell popcorn to do it. All it takes is the success of one scout to lead the way for a pack or troop to start selling. Many families across the country can barely afford scouting let alone the camps and fees to earn merit badges. popcorn has allowed many of our scouts to participate in activities they never would have had the chance. Many of those in my area make less than $15-20 an hour but our scouts can easily sell $250 an hour of popcorn which is $95 an hour in commission. I dont make that much an hour. I will easily take a day off from work to help the scouts sell because its cost effective.

        Now some councils are different with commission rates. Our base is 25% and can go up to 38% if you meet all the goal, show up to kickoff, make the per scout quota, no returns etc. And we also realized that if you chose the gift cards then our percentage is really 43%.then the scouts use the gift cards at walmart do camping gear.

        My daughter is in girl scouts and comparing cookies to popcorn seems just even though its apples and oranges. Lets look at it. Samoas are 7 oz @ $4 = 57cents per oz. Walmart I can get them for 18 to 23 cents an oz. Thats a 247% mark up. Trails end caramel corn is 91 cents an oz. Walmart prices ranged from 37 to 57 cents an oz. So average it to 47. Thats 197% mark up. Less than girl scout cookies. Commission rate for a unit is max $1.05 from what I am told and as low as 40 cents. I dont know how much the GS councils keep. At best 26% commission to the troops. Under trails end 73% goes to council and units and most councils give 25 to 40% to the units. So when someone says the popcorn is overpriced keep in mind those GS cookies are even more overpriced with less return to the units. Now I dont want to start a blog war about GS and BS but when some say popcorn is overpriced then they really need to compare it to other successful programs and see where it really stands. Look at all the numbers not just final price. Trails end put the return to scouting ratio right on the bag and the order forms. Why doesn’t the GS do that? All the school, band, athletic programs have a high mark up 100s+%. The differnece with GS and BS fundraisers are that the mark ups include the council and the units. Take the council out and you have a 100% mark up instead of 200. Thats why the chocolate bar, christmas tree and wreaths are only 100% because those sales aren’t supporting the council. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong but most of those are not council run. We choose to support our council because they support us.

    • I am siting here reading this comment with my jaw on the floor. Is no one else bothered by this??? You are essentially farming out your scouts for slave labor in exchange for payment and you throw in the popcorn as a bonus???? There are so many things wrong with this there isn’t enough space on this page. I hope you are not counting those “work” hours as “community service” toward any rank advancement or other requirement. The whole purpose of teaching these boys the importance of helping the community is being lost by accepting a payment of any kind, no matter how you try to spin it. I hope Bryan is reading these posts and reports this to National Council as this practice should cease immediately!

      • Perhaps reading Jacob’s post without an agenda would be nice. The Scouts learning self-confidence, speaking skills, sales skills, business skills, real life skills that will support them for life is hardly farming someone out as slave labor.

        If you are not interested in a topic that Bryan posts about that is okay. You can move on.

        The Scout Leaders that are fortunate enough to work with and mentor awesome youth that are building leadership skills and setting goals and meeting them day after day are here to share best practices to best support their Scouts.

        I’ve seen the interviews with Scouts like Luke (I think I even saw Luke’s interview if he was in Trail’s End TV). You would think these YOUTH were already running American Businesses successfully upon hearing them. I, for one, think we need to train and support EVERY POSSIBLE future business leader that we possibly can!

        • “If you are selling popcorn then your doing it all wrong and you are probably breaking open the microwave popcorn selling it by the bag like we did when we first started. But then we realized this would not get us to our goal. We needed donations. Then we realized that the panhandlers on the corner is making more than us by long shot. Why do people guve money to him but we can’t sell a bag of popcorn? Then we found the answer. Peolle give to him because they feel like they are help I the community by giving this guy a meal or room for the day. So we started selling our community service of our pack. Road clean up, park clean up, health fair booth, science fair booth, food drives, etc. Then the people started buying our community service through scouting through the popcorn. Thats where you find success. ”

          Actually I have no agenda. My son, an Eagle Scout, Silver Palm recipient and employee of the Boy Scouts of America showed this blog to me and said, “Please tell me I am not reading this right. They are charging for their Community service?” And apparently that is exactly what they are doing- you spin it by calling it “a business”. Community service is not a business and the two should never be confused- basically you are not teaching your boys how to run a business as you claim, you are teaching them that you shouldn’t do nice things for people without expecting reimbursement for these deeds. My son reads Bryan’s blogs all the time, he was particularly interested in this one because he is considering being the popcorn kernel for his troop and thought he could gain some tips on how to improve sales. While I chose to respond in the public forum- he has decided to contact National and report these seemingly unacceptable practices.

        • I’m not sure where you are reading what Jacob states and seeing “charging for community service”? In 10 years of coordinating Scouts selling over $500,000 in popcorn, I have NEVER heard a Scout or a Leader say to buy popcorn and we’ll shovel the snow on your drive or pick up a park (or whatever). The community KNOWS that this is what Scouts do and they support the Scouts accordingly. If you reduce it to “Would you like to buy some popcorn?” instead of saying “Wouldn’t you love to support local Scouting and get some of our delicious popcorn?” then the Scouts are short-changing themselves as well as the potential Scout Supporter.

          If the Scouts are going to do a fund-raiser, 1st, they are NOT “panhandlers” and, second, they should do what they do to the best of their abilities and learn life skills in the process. That is what they do.

        • per Jacob’s direct comments and I just cut and pasted: “So we started selling our community service of our pack. Road clean up, park clean up, health fair booth, science fair booth, food drives, etc. Then the people started buying our community service”

          per your own comments: ” I have NEVER heard a Scout or a Leader say to buy popcorn and we’ll shovel the snow on your drive or pick up a park (or whatever). The community KNOWS that this is what Scouts do and they support the Scouts accordingly”

          I’m guessing they don’t have to say it anymore, because the “COMMUNITY KNOWS this is what Scouts do”. Jacob referred to the panhandlers-not me. Bottom line is fundraising and community service are two separate and distinct things and should be kept that way.
          Hopefully your communities don’t think that is what the entire scouting association does, “selling community service”, because my son and his Troop perform hours of community service, expecting nothing in return. They NEVER accept even donations for community service performed, let alone tie it into a popcorn sale. Community service IS NOT a business venture for Scout Troops. I have noticed since researching this practice that none of the interviews with the boys or their families discuss this nefarious practice. Regardless it needs to stop. The Boy Scouts get enough bad press.

          BTW- Jacob chose to make this a public issue- not me.

  20. So i went back and reread my first post. And then thought to myself well maybe typing “sell in community service” was not the prime choice of words. But then I put it backninto the context of the previous statements about “selling popcorn” and I feel this is the right choice of words in the context of the article. Everyone that has met luke and myself and have had either his class or mine have never come away saying that we are actually “selling” our community service. We promote it in our introduction so that people see what our scouts do for the community. When we build 220 pinewood derby cars in three house at a family day event somewhere…that takes supplies and supplies cost money and we raise that money through popcorn. When we do a road clean up and new reflective vests and gloves…costs money too.

    I have discussed this “selling” and other words like “promoting” but in the end someone is passing money to another and technically a sale has taken place. Whether you call it selling your programmer promoting scouting. The outcome is still the same…money passes hands for a product. What has proven to be a successful fundraising for our pack is to switch the product vs medium. Oh product is scout in and not popcorn. Our medium is the popcorn. Yours could be christmas trees or chocolate bars. But in the end your product is always scouting.

    I am fine with you or your son reporting this idea to National. But it would have been nice if you contacted me to figure out what our program is really about and not take a few words and draw a national emergency about it. I hope someone from national gets a hold of me. My number is 650-922-7921. Although in the evenings i may be out selling popcorn and i am in california so dont call before 11am east coast time as i will be driving kids to school.

    Luke and I spoke at the popcorn conference in Tucson to over 220 scout executive and not one confused the term “selling” with slave labor or creating a business from community service. If fact they were amazed at how we thought outside the box by creating a both at our military fleet week where we had people donate cash to us and when someone in uniformed passed we gave them free back of popcorn. We then took half our commission and donated more popcorn to the local military bases ($11,000 retail price was donated) we aren’t selling community service but our “business model” is based on doing good deeds. Some good deeds can be done for free, some take a certian level of finacial investment, others take leveraging of resources. We tend to think local, national and global when it comes to philanthropy, not just our little community. We have a very large international community here in the San Francisco bay and many of our consumer support is international. This may be vastly differnet then other locations.

    But we can go to a psychological level of sales and scouts. Its called the positive reward system. Where you reward positive attitude or actions. Do we give awards to scouts that make a positive impact by a good deed.? Of course. Did the scout do it for the award….probably not..will that award encourage other scout to do good..probably. so a positive reward encourages participation. if the negative reward system is used then participation is discouraged.
    We either think and work positively or negatively and the sum of the outcome will show which way you think. (Minus a few other factors) I may be over generalizing.

    But look at what popcorn has done for many programs….look in the most recent scout magazine. At the first page add for wreaths and how it helps that troop go on a trip.

    Simply point that scott and the four scouts prove already is…look at the positive impact they have gad and what they have accomplished. They are scouts that have achieved levels ofngreatness and I amnsure they turn a good deed daily and dont expect someone to buy their popcorn because they did it. The consume buys it because they are proud of the scouts accomplishments and they want to feel like they are a part of tha process.

    • I think my Eagle Scout is pretty great too! Do you have a copy of the transcript from your speech in Tuscon? I would love to read it. And just for clarity- you were selling popcorn at Fleet week- not performing Community service, since military donations are part of the popcorn program- just not sure how that example explains the previous discussion of you saying your scouts sell their community service in exchange for popcorn.

      • I don’t have a script of the event being Luke doesn’t use a script. We set it up as a power point with photos and a few bullets and Luke then discusses what took place. I do have a script of Luke’s sales speech that has been passed around. My email is fewx_jacob@yahoo.com

        We never count popcorn sales time as volunteer hours even if it is distributing popcorn to uniformed military members. We never say give us money and we will do a good deed or perform community service. The community service will happen anyways. The grandeur of that service can be amplified if there is funding behind it. Fleet week event was an effort to match the kindness of the citizens of the San Francisco Bay and their appreciation of military service in an immediate and tangible way. Often times, as one person was donating and a sailor walked by we would pair them up and let them each express gratitude, some took pictures together. It was quite exciting for the scouts. It was even a task sometimes for the scouts to try to give the popcorn to the sailor because the sailors didn’t think they deserved the gift.

        Panhandler comment was an example of people giving money to someone that doesn’t do anything for it and the logic, feeling or emotion people have behind giving money to a panhandler. Keep in mind that via National Scout Rules, Scouts are not allowed to ask for a donation for themselves. They must work for it. Rake leaves, sell Christmas trees, sell popcorn, sell chocolate bars, waiter a spaghetti dinner or pancake breakfast, whatever.

        The scouts don’t go out and say pay us and we will do a good deed, which is what you are implying. The scouts say hey we are doing some great stuff here and we need your help to help us do even more great things. What do you think the council sponsored golf tournaments and shooting competitions are about? Its “give us $500 and you get to golf and have a steak dinner but you get to provide support for xyz so scouts can do great things and we give you a plaque(positive reward system)”.

        No Scout went out and accomplished great feats of good deeds without some level of support behind him and somewhere along the line he had to “sell” his idea to people and supporters. This is the same concept of “selling” I am referring too. people give to the panhandler as an outlet to feel like they are supporting community service. We simple provide another outlet for that person to support community service via a scout and the scouting program. We are selling the aspect of community service, support us so we can support the community more…the community service will happen anyways.

        Why do we do the food drive in the fall? What does the door hanger say on it? Its a message “selling” the aspect of giving food to the needy. It cost gas to drive the scouts around the neighborhood to hang the signs and pick up the food then to take the food to the collection point. We just expect the parent to pay for that cost because “that’s what is always done.” But what if you had a fund that reimbursed the parent for gas, maybe you might get more parent involvement. Some parents have to pay the gas for boys to go to camp in a carpool. We didn’t ask the consumer of the popcorn to pay us to drive around and collect the food. But we let the consumer know that on some level or another certain community events have a cost to it and we need their help to cover that cost. Council pays for the printing of those flyers. Where does that money come from? Probably the council’s cut of the popcorn commission or from funds generated from an overpriced golf tournament or shooting event. (sarcasm based on people saying popcorn is overpriced)

        I haven’t seen anyone post that part of the Christmas tree funds, chocolate bar funds, or other pack/troop generated fundraisers provide support to the council. But our Pack can tell you exactly how much they have contributed to the financial support of the council to be able to print the Back to School flyers for recruitment we get for free and the door hangers for the food drive. Our program should be a zero cost program and is almost that. Our scouts can focus on the good deeds without having to worry about the cost associated with it.

        • I haven’t been implying anything, I have been reading what you wrote
          “So we started selling our community service of our pack. Road clean up, park clean up, health fair booth, science fair booth, food drives, etc. Then the people started buying our community service through scouting through the popcorn. Thats where you find success.”

          I actually listened to Luke’s selling tips video, and I agree he is a remarkable 11 year old, but he never mentioned that he “sells community service”, he said he sells the scouting program. Having been a scout mom for many years, and popcorn kernel for most, we hear this at every training meeting, so if that is what he says at his lectures, then I am sure the execs do not have a problem with that. BUT, that is NOT what you said. Refer to the above quote taken from your comments. I agree scouting costs money and that is why we have fundraisers, but to sell community service and hide it under the guise of the popcorn sale is not right.

        • This is not a discussion of “Proper Scouting Techniques” this is a grammar question. Selling vs. Selling vs. Selling — there are many definitions.

          As I’ve always taught my son, if Steve Jobs was SELLING a really nice pen (ironic that Apple is now selling a pencil), he would NOT sell the Pen. What does this mean?

          This means that Steve Jobs would not sell the “Features” of the Apple Pen but rather the “Benefits” of the Apple Pen. He would tell you, for example, that with this fine instrument that is made of the finest quality that grandchildren across America could write actual letters to their grandmothers. Picture the look of emotion on Grandma’s face when she opens that actual letter from her grandson. You can reach out to grandma with THIS Pen (as if it were the only one in the world). He would tell you that powerful men and women have made history with THEIR PEN and wouldn’t you want to have YOUR OWN great pen to have with you when the opportunity arrises for YOU to make history.

          On and on.

          So, I would say, Donovan, is Mr. Jobs selling you a PEN or is he selling you an emotion, a part of history, an instrument that is mightier than a sword???

          Luke is CLEARLY selling Scouting. Just as is Donovan and the other three Scouts here in the blog. Luke is selling Scouting Service. He is selling Scouting Leadership and Patriotism.

          Jacob saying that Luke is selling things other than Scout Popcorn is a training mechanism that has used to teach his 11-year-old son (as with the 4 Scouts above) that you are not selling kernels and caramel and salt and calories, etc. etc. — YOU ARE SELLING SCOUTING! (You need to KNOW your physical product for when asked, of course.)

          That’s all he is saying.

          I think Mr. Jobs did fairly well in his day NOT selling computers and NOT selling iPods and NOT selling iPhones and NOT selling iPads???

          Visit http://ThePopcornScout.com/Scoutcast to listen (or read) additional tips in the September edition of Scoutcast.

        • Thanks Scott. Well put. I actually relate in a class i give to parents and kernels an article by Ken Krogue from insidesales.com where he talks about Steve Jobs and redirecting the river of need verses trying to create a whole new market. I also mention Mimi Ikonn who never mentions that she has any product for sell but yet does millions in sales.

        • I totally agree about how Steve Jobs “sells” his product. What he isn’t doing is promising to come to your community and work shoveling drives, cutting grass, raking leaves until you have paid enough money to get a pen. YOU didn’t say you were selling a feeling, or emotion, or even the benefits of the scouting program for our youth- YOU said you “sell your community service” and gave very specific examples of how you do this- and this is wrong any way you look at it. Maybe you “meant” something else or maybe you just said too much and find the need to backpedal now. Either way I think the association needs to take a close look at these practices. And really what our you teaching your son- how to work around the rules that everyone else has to follow so he can be the best? This makes me sad.

        • Please refer back to Scott’s post about the grammar use and mine about the further refined definition of , “selling” and aspects of it. I am neither backpedaling or feel I have said to much. I am not hiding anything. I have posted both my phone number and my email. I make available my PowerPoint and any videos we make to anyone who asks.

          Never once did I say that the boys are promising to do community service because they are getting paid for it. What Luke would do is see an old house with and old lady living in it and then ask if he could use his popcorn money to pay for paint and go paint it for the old lady. Then he would give an accounting of what he spent his commission on and thank people for supporting him so he could go do great things.

          As far as rules go I have enabled our council to be in thehighest level of compliance with local government regulations when it comes to all our food based fundraising. I get health certificates from the county and get all the selling permits permissible to our circumstances. I can speak for California when I say that you must have county health certificate in order to sell any food product, prepackaged or not.

          I am positive I have not violated any scouting rule in our fundraising efforts and always confirm to our top executives.

          Your accusation of teaching my son to work around the rules are both unfounded and unwarranted. You have neither taken the time to call or email me to clarify any comment made here before making assertions of dishonesty. And that makes me sad.

        • Ummm..so now it is HIS popcorn money? He uses HIS COMMISSION? Boy Scouts should not be earning a commission for selling popcorn, nor are they allowed to have PERSONAL accounts within the troop. This is not allowed by law- not just a Boy Scout rule. As of January 2014, the Boy Scouts strictly prohibit this. You are right, this is not about semantics, it is about being able to read the words you wrote and all of the follow-up and double-talk as you try to explain your way out. (I actually had some folks at work read the thread, because maybe, just maybe, I was misinterpreting things, straightforward from article through the comments and 4 out of 5 people all commented, “Wow, they sure are backpedaling now.”)

        • I wholeheartedly agree! Had he said “we sell the Scouting program and its benefits in improving the lives of young men, and helping them acheive their goals, and participate in events, and perform community service, and become leaders- please support this worthwhile program by participating in our popcorn fundraiser.” there would not be an issue. But he did not. Please re-read his initial post- he said “we sell our community service” then listed specific examples. Although a small but important part of Scouting, it was unusual that is all he chose to mention- “we sell our community service.” not the program and all its wonderful benefits, we sell our community service.

  21. I thought Jacob’s original message made perfect sense. Nobody is saying “give me twenty dollars so that I will help old ladies across the street.”

    The distinction that they are drawing is that you should not be saying “please buy some of this yummy popcorn and, by the way, it supports Scouting”. You should be saying “please support Scouting and all the great things that we do by buying this yummy popcorn”. The question is in which part you emphasize: the popcorn, or the Scouting.

    If you emphasize the popcorn, you lose: it’s really not a very good deal. You have to emphasize that their money is not merely buying a product; it’s supporting the program.

  22. My son is a Webelos II and has sold about 18k in his scouting career (he started as a tiger). $12,500 of it was this year alone. He decided he wanted to be the top seller in the council (he was district last year) and was is motivated by the scholarship account he became a part of last year. He has done every bit of those sales himself (only $550 of it online the rest door-to-door).

    What has he learned:
    * Be polite
    * Don’t take “No” personally
    * Think about options
    * Dedication and perseverance helps you achieve your goals
    * Conversational small talk to find common ground
    * That smiling and attitude make a difference in how people receive you.
    * Selling the reason (support scouting and what it provides) over the product.
    * Meeting people is fun!
    * Texas A&M grads/supporters buy 90% of the time over Texas Tech 50% (no clue why???)

  23. I am going to bypass all the negativity here. Your opinions may be valid for your situations, but not anothers.

    Here is the real meaning of this post:
    Congratulations to these boys! No matter your views, these boys are succeeding in life in many ways! Keep up the great work!

    Sometimes I think half the problem is us, the parents, not the Scouts or the product. I have actually had people tell me “it is just easier to write a check than do all that hard work.” Really? You mean it is just easier to write a check than spend time with your child and letting him learn how to get on in this world.

    My son has been our council top seller for 4 years. In that time, he has sold over $42,000 in popcorn. Enough to pay his way (Remember, a scout pays his way through hard work and determination?) To the World Jamboree in Yamaguchi, Japan this past July.
    He also can afford all of his Scouting costs. In the past years, we have not paid for camping, summer camp, high adventure, etc. out of our pocket, because he EARNED it all.
    He sells completely door to door. He visits close to 2500 homes and businesses each year. And the hints given in the above article are the exact ones he uses for his sales.
    He does this without us, as parents, pushing him as some people want to believe.
    All of that stuff is great. But let me tell you what is better.
    My son was a shy, timid child. Without popcorn, he would, in all likelihood still be shy and timid.
    He was intimidated at first with selling popcorn, but he stuck with it.
    Now, he is 15 years old. He has no problem talking to anybody about anything.
    He has learned how to take “no” for an answer gracefully.
    He knows that sometimes life isn’t fair.
    He has learned sympathy for those with less than him (like the gentleman who broke down and cried because he couldn’t buy popcorn because he had just lost his job. My son bought him a bag with his own money as a gift).
    He has learned that good footwear is essential.
    He has learned that dogs love Scout who carry Milk Bones.
    He has a way of getting interested in his customers. From the guy working on his lawnmower who showed him how belts and puleys work, the Japanophile who helped prepare for his trip, the elderly lady whose husband was an Eagle scout that shows him pictures and tells stories of his life with scouting, the classic car collector who shared his knowledge about a particular model of car,, the Veteran who described what life on board a carrier was like, to the dentist who has invited him to shadow him while he works because my son showed interest in going into the medical field. All these “customers” are now his friends.

    In his forays, he has learned much more than he will ever earn.
    All because of popcorn.
    He has just started his Eagle prpject plans. Because os popcorn, HE is asking the questions. HE is making the plans with minimal help. HE know how to talk to the managers, wholesalers, the lanscapers.
    He is truly handling LIFE on all levels.
    Is he perfect? Not by a long stretch.
    But… Without the experiences he has had with popcorn, I feel he wouldn’t have accomplished as much as he has in Scouts, or in life.
    So, keep it up, boys! I, for one, am proud of you!

  24. So I hate to be the guy who picks this out – but you have four young men in Venturing Uniforms and you say:

    “The funds raised stay with the local unit. Many packs, troops and teams use popcorn money to buy equipment, fund camping trips or excursions, or purchase awards and advancement items.”

    Aren’t you missing TWO organizations in there? Again, if it weren’t that they were in a CREW and it was so obvious – I would not be obnoxious about this.

    Additionally, since Venturing is being downplayed, and Exploring is being pushed as the next generation of program – shouldn’t you have also included them?

  25. I’m actually looking forward to not selling popcorn this year. Now that my son is a Boy Scout, his troop does four pancake breakfasts a year. We’re told if a scout does all four breakfasts they earn enough for summer camp.
    Popcorn show and sales are a nightmare in our area. We have 12 packs fighting over places to sell. Two years ago our pack fought to get into a big box store which previously didn’t allow sales outside. It was a huge success. Last year, another pack booked every weekend at that store and at a major hardware store so no other pack could sell. The one place we did get they showed up to sell there during our time slot and were quite rude when we wouldn’t leave so they could have it. We were booked, they weren’t. I really believe the council should book the places so this doesn’t happen, but they won’t do anything about it.
    So, I’m looking forward to a drama free fundraising season this year.

  26. My Troop sells every year – some scouts sell a lot; some not so much. Some sell only to family, some sell to neighbors, some sell thru online orders! Bottom line it gives them an opportunity to raise funds to offset the camping and activities that they want to participate in throughout the year AND it helps support their home Council which provides our program. Our Council provides 35% of the profit to the unit with a chance for a bit more thru extra requirements! Yes it is a bit pricey and I’d luv to see a few less expensive items for a better chance at a bigger market but it is what it is! It’s about the bigger picture (and hats off to these 4 young men who have worked hard and are happily sharing their skills and knowledge)

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