scouts-l Mail Archive for February of 2000: REF: Thursday
MAJ) Mike Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle (blkeagle@USSCOUTS.ORG
Tue Feb 16 1993 - 18:28:27 CST
There's a degree of greed in Scouting, and I've bought into it.
Scouting has never been a place whereby those participating in it would get
rich. If one was to ask a Scout leader about their scouting financial
dealings, they would "bend your ear" with tales of how they were supposed to
get reimbursed for something, but never did; or that they spent hundreds of
dollars on Scouting and never got any of it back. One would be hard-pressed
to ever volunteer to pay for "anything" for the Scouts after hearing those
stories, told with passionate voices and sometimes peppered with words not
suited in mixed company.
Ask those same people if their money was well-spent, however, and they would
"bend the other ear" telling all about the kids it helped, the importance of
why they spent the money on what they spent it on, and in soft voices,
almost to tears, to a person, they will tell you about some kid that needed
that money much more than they did; about the event they attended that left
them feeling so great about what they were doing that they volunteered to do
more when they returned; about the beauty of Philmont Scout Ranch or the
pageantry of the National Scout Jamboree opening or closing show.
"But the Boy Scouts go out and raise money, don't they?? Why did those
people have to pay anything? They're volunteers!"
They pay for the right to attend the event or activity, as the youth
participating also pay. Even those making Scouting a profession, a calling,
pays to attend conferences, meetings and encampments. "Every Scout pays his
way" is a long-standing saying. It makes sense. If you are paying for the
opportunity to be somewhere, to take part in a training event or course, or
for a campout, you have "bought into it." You will want to "see it
through", to insure that the activity met your expectations. When it did
not, you had a right then to complain and effect change to that program.
If you're just there "for the ride," you really have no right to complain,
moan or cuss at anyone. Besides, that's not the Scouting way. The Scouting
way is that you "pay to play."
"So where does the money go that the Scouts collect from businesses and
people once a year??" That's a question I am asked frequently at Rotary and
Lions meetings, at the Exchange Clubs, and with the Jaycees. The Association
of the United States Army chapter. The community council meeting. The PTO
business meeting. Anywhere I go to speak. Some Scouters, particularly new
ones, ask that same question.
There are two "pots" of money. There is a National pot, which is where all
of the dues and fees from individuals and units go. The local outfit, called
a Council, never holds onto a penny of that money. The National pot also is
where the money that is spent on uniforms, accessories, tentage and other
equipment goes as well. The subscriptions which people pay to the BSA's
national magazines and publications also go into the National "pot" as well
as fees paid by individuals and units attending training courses at Philmont
Scout Ranch in New Mexico or the Sea Base in Florida - and the national fees
associated with the National Scout Jamboree and other national events.
Things that Scouters pay for from the BSA's own retail stores called "Scout
Shops" (tm). The local Council sees very little if any of this money. That
money funds the national organization, and pays for the national staff and
the four national outdoor adventure facilities.
Then there's the money collected locally. It STAYS locally, to finance and
underwrite the local Council's operation. To pay for the building or two
that houses the professional team managing the Scouting program over a
several county area, or half of a state, or the entire state, or in some
cases, groups of states and even groups of countries overseas!! To pay for
it's lighting, electricity, heat, phones, and the equipment inside the
building. To pay for the salaries of the few professional men and women
that handle everything from child abuse cases involving Scout leaders to the
camping property or properties. To pay for the patches, books, banners,
flags and other items that are resold to volunteer Scouting leaders and
their members. To pay for the general engineering and upkeep of the
Council's camping properties and buildings. Finally, to pay for the general
operation insurance and to retain a lawyer just in case someone or some firm
smudges the good name of Scouting.
Those two "pots" don't get emptied into one another, and it's becoming
increasingly hard for the local Council to get the money they need to
operate Scouting the way it's volunteers and parents have become accustomed
to. So, they had to do some very inventive things to raise that money each
Some Boy Scout Councils authorize the sale of limited edition badges or
patches for resale to its membership. Patch collecting has become a really
large part of what Scouting is about today. I read that there may be as
much as five million dollars in Scout patch trades and sales going on in the
The patches are created for a small price and are sold at several times that
price to underwrite the annual Eagle Scout banquet, or to build a new
facility at the summer camp facility, or to go into the general operating
Most Boy Scout Councils ask their youth and adults to sell a special brand
of popcorn to their friends and community members. This special tasty blend
of popcorn comes in a rather attractive outdoor motif tin and is very
popular in many small communities and in urban areas. "Everyone loves
popcorn!" a young man told me as he took my five-dollar bill in exchange for
a tin of Trail's End Popcorn. This sales makes the difference between what
a local Council can afford to do and what its volunteers are asking it to
provide for the following year.
Some Boy Scout Councils rent out their outdoor facilities to businesses and
religious groups for retreats and training sessions with a different flair.
Mostly, however, it is the direct approach which funds the local Council and
its programs, and that's the part that I enjoy the most. I enjoy telling
parents about my own Scouting starting, and how I was so excited about
becoming a "Club Scout" that I told the man that I pledged to "Obey the Laws
of the Sticky Foot!" to their laughter; and then turning around and telling
them that without their money, and the money of their friends and neighbors,
that kids like me growing up today will never get that chance to mess up
saying the Cub Scout Promise -.because Cub Scouting would never be offered -in
their community. "We can't afford to bring Cub Scouting -- or Boy Scouting
-- to communities that won't support it. Would you build a tuna fish factory
in a location whereby people don't like tuna fish??"
I love telling parents about the night of my Order of the Arrow Ordeal, and
how I sat up after most of the others have went off to sleep, looked at the
moonlight through the trees, and sang myself to sleep. Not from fear, but
out of pride; for the other boys in my Troop elected me to go and
participate in this special honor. If I could have seen William Boyce that
evening, I would have gladly hugged the man whom brought Scouting to the
United States, giving me the chance to become a Boy Scout and now, a member
of the most prized group within Scouting! Even though the weather was a
little cool, I felt little discomfort as I sang "Kumba Yah" and slowly
leaned against the tree and my sleeping bag and dozed off, my tears creating
a trail down both sides of my face.
Am I greedy in wanting those I talk with to give to Scouting? Yes, I am. I
know that for every kid involved in Scouting, it cost a local Scouting
Council $92.50 on average to keep him in for a year. That money is not for
the uniform or the books=85remember, every Scout "pays his own way". This is
to support him with programming and activities, to train and coach his adult
leaders, and to provide an operating structure that will keep his records,
award him for special accomplishments, and instill pride and promote the
program overall. Am I greedy in asking for this money? I admit that I am.
Many people are afraid to ask parents and those whom charter Scouting units
for money --they already are spending money for their own son and in the case
of organizations who charter Scouting units, they provide a place for those
Without those monies, however, the local Council finds it hard to make
Scouting go and to make the few programs they offer grow. They have to
invent different ways to raise money. And it forces some professionals,
whom are working under a lot of pressure already, to sometimes do dishonest
things to somehow get that money. So yes, I am a bit greedy in asking.
I'll collect anything you want to give to Scouting.
My parents - my father in particular - gave to Scouting each year I was at
home. He called it "his investment in my future." My father was one of few
words, but one evening he told me why he would give the local Scout
"organization," he called the Council, some of his hard-earned money every year.
"When I was growing up, I saw Scouts. None of them were Black. They all
would march and bivouacked in a field close to where your Grandfather lived.
There were a lot of us whom wished we were Scouts. But it was your
Grandfather Albert that made it all happen, after I married your Mom and we
moved away. When you were getting into Scouts in Germany, your mother wrote
him, and told him how happy you were and some of the things you did and some
of the things you made for her. Albert called the Boy Scouts in Jackson up
and got them to come and set up a Troop for the Black boys in town. And
every year, your Grandfather would give some money to the Scouts so that
they would help out other communities that wanted it for their boys."
"When I see you involved in Scouts, and doing those things you've done,
you've made me proud. But as your mother says, I don't see any other Black
kids doing this - and not a whole lot of the White ones either. I want to
make sure that it wasn't a matter of money that's keeping those kids from
doing the things you got to do.
Michael Douglas, the actor, proclaimed in one of his movies "Greed was
good." I personally believe that greed is not good for anything but more
greed. But if I can help to loosen some wallets, to open some checkbooks
and start pens writing out amounts onto checks to support Scouting in
America, I won't be picky if the check is for 90 or ten dollars. All I know
is that communities need Scouting. And Scouting doesn't come cheap.
For those participating in. For those serving as leaders or supervisors of
it. For those supporting it.
Nothing good comes cheap and you get what you pay for.