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  • New Cubmaster in uncomfortable position regarding donations (Long)

    Hello, I am new to being a scout leader...but trying to learn. I have completed the online courses, read the entire leader handbook and attend a University of Scouting. However, I am finding this job much more challenging than I ever expected. My problem is gonna take a bit of explaining.

    I live in a small town with a population 5,000. The scouts have not had a troop or pack in our town for the past couple years. I attended a meeting at the local school held by the district executive when my first grader brought home a flyer about scouting and was excited to be a scout. When it came time for people to volunteer to be scout leaders no one volunteered. After another meeting with no volunteers I decided that I really had no good excuse not to try and step up to the task of being a scout leader to benefit the boys of the city who had expressed interest. So I became a Cubmaster and my wife a den leader for a single den of 7 tiger cubs.

    We are fortunate enough to have a building in our town that was deeded to the city decades ago specifically for the use of the scouts (The Scout Cabin). On the first visit to the Scout Cabin my wife and I ran into a man who had come to setup for a local AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting. The AA had been granted use of the Scout Cabin one night each week for a meeting. This AA representative was immediately offended to find that the Scout were to be using the cabin again. As he explained it, the past Scout had caused them problems by damaging their tables and chairs and took poor care of the cabin. He indicated that he and AA had been maintaining the cabin, owned everything in it (specifically about 12 eight foot tables and folding chairs). He suggested we have our meeting in the basement...I explained that we had no intention of that and this just made the guy madder. Over the next few weeks as we had our meetings on the day after the AA meeting we started to notice the overwhelming odor of smoke and ashtrays. When I spoke to the AA representative he indicated that they smoked in the building during their meeting and had no intention of stopping, even though there is a state law banning smoking in public places. We spoke to the city manager and he instructed us to put up the state no smoking signs in the building, so we did. Now, AA was really pissed! They complained to the city and told them they were gonna go elsewhere if this is how they were going to be treated, after all they had done to keep up and improve the cabin...Then one night after their meeting, they did just that, taking every table and chair, the PA system, the toilet paper and paper towels, the light bulbs and the central air conditioning unit. Since the city and the previous pack failed to keep any records, no one could stop them and the city decided that it was not a fight they wanted to be involved in so refused to press charges.

    So now I have a nice large scout cabin without any tables or chairs...here is where it gets even more complicated...I attended a city council meeting and expressed my disappointment in the city's lack of support for the scouts. The city said thanks for your opinion..."next matter". After the meeting one of the councilman approached me and identified himself as a member of the local VFW(who had been the sponsor for the previous pack). He explained that the VFW wanted to help the scout as they had in the past. However, since we are at the very edge of the district boundary and in an entirely different county, the VFW wanted to make sure things were done differently than as had been done in the past. He explained, the VFW wanted the support they give to be used for the local scout pack, not the district who was far away and had taken money from them in the past that they felt was not used to benefit the local scouts. His message was clear, if the VFW was to help the scouts it would only do so if the money was used for the local scouts and not for the district.

    I explained this conversation to the DE(?), he was kinda offended and said that that was not the way things were done, he explained the district need this type of support to pay for district expenses like his salary, sending scouts to camp and such. He stated that our popcorn sales should be enough to fund our pack and we should not need anything more (remember I have 7 tiger cubs in a town of 5000, how much popcorn do you think we can sell?) He urged me to address the VFW and express to them that in my opinion the money should be given to the district, and then they may used a portion of it to help us buy a few tables and chairs. He said he would setup a meeting for him and I to address the VFW and get back with me.

    Tonight, I get a call from the councilman/VFW member...he says that he has spoken with the VFW Quartermaster and they want to help us, he asked that I come their next meeting and explain what we need and what the expected cost would be. The amount he says that they can provide is VERY generous...it would easily replace all the tables and chairs we have lost. I explained to him the conversation I had with the DE, now he gets a bit upset, again explaining that this is NOT something they mean to give the district, only the local scouts. In essence saying that if we would get nothing if it had to go to the district.

    We desperately need this help!, not a single entity in this town has offered any help to restore the cabin, even after the front page newspaper coverage of my address to city council...I don't want to jeopardize it, but I also understand the BSA policy is that we do not solicit donations directly.

    So now I feel caught in the middle...do I explain to the VFW that the DE is not gonna go along with this and try to find a way to skirt the rule and have it benefit only us? Do I go along with the DE and try to sell the idea to the VFW again that the donation should go to the district???? I got involved in this to help the kids, I never ever ever expected all these complications...I am quickly loosing my enthusiasm....HELP!!!!

  • #2
    Sharpy: Hey, we;lcome...Please, have a seat... Pull up a log at our virtual campfire...
    I'll start off here, and no doubt we'll have a few more good ideas come up from around the circle.
    Firstly, I think it is very neat that you have a Scout dedicated cabin. Too bad about the AA. They do good work. Eventually you may get back on their good side, but that may have to wait. And it is great you have the VFW so interested, but now
    I have to ask, who is your Charter Organization? The City? the VFW? Someone else? The CO are the first folks you need to go to for support and advocasy(?). If the VFW was your CO, they could give your Pack all the support, both materially and financially, they wanted.
    I hope you don't need to go this thing alone. Who is your Committee Chair? Do you have a Pack Committee?
    Your DE sounds like a real gogetter. He helped you found the Pack, yes? Kindly remind him that , ultimately, "it's about the kids".
    You do need to find a few more allies, in the city council, the VFW and in the community at large. Volunteer Fire Dept.? Lions Club? Local church?
    Front page coverage? you got media connections? Use them. But veer to the side of NOT embarrassing folks. Work to show the good, fun stuff your Cubs are doing. Enlist the local hardware store and contractor to help fix up the Scout Cabin. Remind them of the great PR involved. Find the grown up Scouts out there. Use those school brochures again and recruit.
    A Scout Cabin. Ummmm... Need Scouts. Boy Scouts, too, not just Cubs. Any chance of forming a BSTroop? Is there one already "around"?

    Like real estate, you got "POE-TEN-SHUL". I hope and pray you can make the most of this most excellent opening you have been given.

    Stay tuned...

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply...here are a few more details

      Q: "who is your Charter Organization?"
      A: A local church, the pastor seems to be genuinely interested in helping although there has been no real involvement, the DE took us to meet him, I have kept him informed of the AA issues...I think he just has plenty of things already on his plate. I don't think they have been involved with the scouts in the past. The prior CO was the VFW, but the DE felt it was not a good environment for the kids, and I have to agree...a bar is not a place for kids, and in this small town that is the primary role of the VFW.

      Q: "I hope you don't need to go this thing alone. Who is your Committee Chair? Do you have a Pack Committee?"
      A: I am afraid I am alone (except for my wife), we just started dong this in March...we have no committees...we have little help, we plan each meeting but have been able to get a few parents to provide snacks, but that's about it....

      Q: "Your DE sounds like a real gogetter. He helped you found the Pack, yes?"
      A: Yes, he held the initial meeting at the school and has helped us to get some training materials, I think he has plenty on his plate too. He came to our first meeting and provided us with a flag...but the AA and city issues he has not chosen to get involved with.

      Q: "You do need to find a few more allies, in the city council, the VFW and in the community at large. Volunteer Fire Dept.? Lions Club? Local church?"
      A: I agree and have tried to spread the word, in just a few months we have done the scouting for food & pinewood derby, getting great press coverage in our local paper for both. However no one has offered to help with anything and the paper would not have mentioned the incident with AA if I wouldn't have addressed council, as our paper is owned by our mayor, who just wants this to all go away. Most of the clubs in the area have closed American Legion - Gone, Knight of Columbus - Gone, No Lions club...we have the VFW and a Eagles, that's about it....

      Q: "Front page coverage? you got media connections? Use them"
      A: No, no "connections", but I am involved with the paper from time to time to run advertising for my real job. If I email them a photos of the boys and some info they always find a place for it in the paper.

      Q: "Any chance of forming a BSTroop? Is there one already "around"?"
      A: No BS troop in town for many years, no way I can take on that as well...I had hoped to be able to have a bear/wolf den but the guy who was gonna be den leader never had the time to actually do it.

      Q: "I hope and pray you can make the most of this most excellent opening you have been given."
      A: I am giving it my best...thanks for the kind words.

      Comment


      • #4
        Couple of things...

        1) The Chartered Organization technically "owns" the Pack and anything that the Pack earns, receives or calls it's own. So, in essence, anything that anyone gives the Pack is really rightfully owned by the CO.

        2) There is nothing preventing the VFW from donating whatever it wants to the church for the express purpose of having the Pack use the items. As long as the VFW trusts that the church will do the right thing with the equipment and let the Pack use them for its purpose, then that's your easiest path to get the supplies. Neither the DE nor anyone at district or council has any say in this matter, as it's between the CO and a 3rd party donor to the CO.

        3) Not saying that you should change CO, but there's nothing preventing the VFW from being your CO and still have you meet at the town-owned scout cabin. If (down the road) you have issues with your CO, it would seem that you have a backup CO ready and waiting.

        Good luck!

        Comment


        • #5
          AS others have said - Welcome to the virtual campfire... pull up a log and a cup of coffee.

          The advice you have gotten thus far is good. I would just add a couple more things:

          1) If the church is your CO, and the VFW wants to help you out, then have them work together. The VFW can give you anything they want to. I would suggest actual goods (i.e. buy the chairs and tables and give them to the unit / CO). Hard for the DE to grab them from you. Very easy for the DE to try and strong arm a cash gift away from you to the District.

          2) The District does not own your unit, the CO does. So at the risk of pissing off your DE, I'd leave him out of the loop for awhile... he's not doing you any favors anyway by trying to take a funding source away from a start-up pack. Get the tables and chairs. Then go forward from there.

          If you need central HVAC for the cabin, check with the parents of the scouts. One of them might work for an AC and heating company, or know someone, that knows someone, etc... (don't know your location - so don't know if this is a true need or a want in terms of comfort for meetings). A good portion of getting community support for your unit is not waiting for the community to come to you, but to network with specific ideas about what your unit's needs are.

          I prime example - we were in need of a LOT of stuff for a pack campout two years ago. I go to the local Home Depot and ask the store director if they'd like to donate a gift card to the unit and we'd likely spend more than the card in the store... camp stove, ropes, tarps, etc....

          The store director tells me, "Do you have a list of what you're needing?" Let me look at it. He outright gave us about 5 line items and then set us up with the remainder of our list at his cost! Way more of a discount than the $100 gift card I was hoping to get going into the situation. Plus, he asked us to come back at popcorn sales and sell in front of his store!!

          Point is - be specific about the request. This is true of donated equipment and getting parents to volunteer. "I need someone to be a Den Leader...." not going to get you a volunteer. " I need one parent to plan a game and another to get the supplies for this craft (here's a list) and one more to bring a snack to the next meeting...." WAAAAAAAy more likely to get your volunteer help. Its a specific task, with a specific timeline. People know what they're getting into. Then once they are comfortable with helping on line items, you compliment their help and they are more likely to think about a larger role within the unit.

          Best of luck - sounds like a rough start, but you can overcome it. Just keep a positive attitude and keep the positive press coming, that will grow your pack in a town of 5000. The community sees you doing good, the community will support you.

          Above all - KISMIF "Keep it simple, make it fun" - it really is about the boys.

          Again - welcome and I hope we can be a source of good info for a green leader.

          Dean

          Comment


          • #6
            Sharpy:
            Welcome to the campfire. You seem to have your work cut out for you.

            I don't think you can be chartered without a unit committee or at least names of a CC and two members. Maybe there is some leeway for a new unit but come rechartering time you should have a committee. Sometimes the DE or council will create a phantom committee using names of people who work at council or whoever they can find. A temporary fix at best. Check and see if there are committee members on your roster.

            There are seven Tigers so I would assume there are at least 6 other parents. Try to get three to commit to being the pack committee. One should be a chair, one should be a treasurer. Better still, get all the parents to register as committee members. Don't ask for monthly meetings, don't put a lot of responsibility on them to start. A couple of meetings a year, maybe one a quarter should work for a cub pack. You may be getting by now but as the troop grows you will really need the help.

            This is the way our Cubmaster (a scoutaholic if there ever was one) did it. Council told him that they would not re-charter the pack without a committee. At the pack meeting he announced, "I need three volunteers to register as committee members-you won't have to do anything because I don't need a committee". Three of us dads looked at each other and said, "well we can do that". Two years later the CM's youngest crossed over and the CM went with him. At this point the three do nothing committee members became a CM (me), a CC and an active committee member. I said I could only do the job for a year (until my son bridged) and that I could only do it with the help and support of an active committee. A year later when our sons bridged we left the pack in the hands of an established unit committee and a new CM.

            My suggestion is that you and your wife do not become the our old CM and try to do it all. It isn't good for you and it won't ultimately be good for the pack. If all this works out when your sons become Webelos you will be wanting to form a troop so that they can become Tenderfeet and ultimately Eagles. You can't do it all alone so start creating the organization and partnerships now.

            BTW, I was briefly a unit commissioner for a pack that was chartered by a VFW post. They had the same concerns that you do about being chartered by a bar, and we are not a small town by any means. We are a close-in DC suburb with over 200k population in 26 square miles. The more different things are the more they are the same.

            Good luck and stick around the campfire. I for one would like to see how this all turns out. You are doing God's work.

            Hal


            Comment


            • #7
              Welcome to the forum!

              If the CO, District and VFW are not at odds with each other, they can all do their part in helping the pack. First of all I have a Venturing Crew that has no permanent meeting place. Our CO rents a room at a church for their own meetings and the Crew is on it's own to find their own place. We have done so in a different district with a VFW meeting hall. They have graciously invited us in because they knew we didn't have a spot. It's a nice arrangement and everyone is happy.

              My Troop is also in a different VFW hall and because they are remodeling their bar area, we held a troop meeting in one end of the hall and the VFW set up a temporary bar on the other end of the hall. They were making quite a bit of noise when we showed up. The boys expressed concern over the issue of the bar in the same room. I reminded them we are here as guests and what the CO does is their business, we'll just work around it. The boys got together the flag ceremony and started out with the command, "Scouts and Leaders Attention!". I then stopped the SPL and had the boys all look into the bar area where every patron was on their feet facing the boys/flags. I told the boys, "These are our Veterans, not just bar patrons." The boys finished out their ceremony and nothing more was said.

              I would suggest hooking up as best as you can with a VFW. These men and women really believe in the Scouting program. If one as another organization that hasn't the time of day for the unit, VFW's do and will bend over backwards for the boys (and Girl Scouts) whether they are the CO or not!

              Stosh

              Comment


              • #8
                If your city has a city owned property that is (now) used exclusively by, and for, the Scouts, why can't the VFW simply use their money to renovate the Scout Cabin? This would be done thru the city, who owns the property, and not your Pack, Charter Org, or the Council.

                With a city owned Scout Cabin available for all Scout meetings, I don't see why the VFW was not considered as a viable Charter Partner. The boys would be in the Scout Cabin, not the VFW bar. You might consider talking to the church about changing your charter to the VFW. If none of your members are members of the church, a move to the VFW might be a better fit.


                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi,
                  Sounds like you have fallen in at the deep end!

                  BSA training's are great, but they don't and can't cover each and every situation.
                  It sounds to me like you need someone local who has been around for a while to talk with.
                  A great place to meet other Scouter's is at the monthly Round-Table Meeting.
                  I think that there you will meet other Scouter's who are willing to offer advise and for the most part have the good of the Scouts at heart.
                  DE's at times have a slightly different agenda than volunteers. They at times need to be reminded of how little real power they have. Of course you being new might mean that you don't know what they can and can't do.
                  I'd seek out an old gray-beard who is willing to share with you the wisdom of the ages.
                  The business with the AA is a little sad. But they made their bed and there is nothing that can be done about it. So let it go!
                  Kinda strange that a local council is getting involved.
                  You might want to check out what the terms and conditions of having and using the Scout Building are.
                  It might be that using it is more trouble than it's worth?
                  From what you have posted the VFW seems like your best bet.
                  The best of both worlds would be if they were willing to take on being the Chartering Organization, but allow you to have your meetings at the Scout Building.
                  Again checking into who pays for what (Heating, lighting, insurance) might be what makes it work or fail.
                  Failing this talk with the church and see what they want to do or are willing to do?
                  If you can find the name and number of your District Commissioner? He or She might be the go to person to sort things out for you.
                  You might also want to ask the Council Service Center to send you a copy of your charter and see what names have been put on it.
                  All too often in a rush to get a new unit started DE's can play hard and fast to have names on a charter without even asking the people who own the names if they want to be on it. (Been there done that!!)
                  Most DE's are great guys. But there are a few who would mess up a one car funeral.
                  My advise is to find an experienced volunteer who is willing to listen and offer his advise.
                  Eamonn.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The others are correct. Go to the Council registrar and ask for a printout of your unit roster. On it, in addition to you and your wife, you will find the names of a Chartered Org Representative, Committee Chair, and Committee members (These are required to charter a unit). Then call a meeting of those people. They are the ones who should be handling this dilemma and making decisions. Not you and the DE. If they are indeed in "name only", tell the DE that's not acceptable and ask your COR for a full slate of interested unit leaders to help you. The CO/COR is the one who should be appointing and approving unit leaders, with your help with recruiting. This kind of thing drives me up the wall, and I think it drives away otherwise good, solid volunteers...all in a quest for "numbers". But by the time the unit implodes, the DE has gotten his raise and moved on.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yah, Sharpy, a Scout Salute to yeh for stepping forward as you did, and for stickin' with things when things got sticky.

                      Since right now you're a pack of tiger cubs, I wouldn't worry too much yet about a full committee and all da assorted roles. That stuff is stuff that will start to make more sense when yeh grow next year and add some new tigers and parents.

                      To answer your specific question, the right and proper ethical thing to do in this situation is to honor the wishes and generosity of the donor. What da DE wants to pay his salary is irrelevant. Our duty under God and under the Law is to honor the wishes of the donor. If the VFW is givin' you funds of its own accord, you accept those funds and you use them as the VFW has designated. Period. You have no choice. That is breaking no rules, that is following the rules.

                      If the DE says otherwise, he's just wrong and is pushin' his own agenda. You or the VFW or the church pastor thank him for his input and caution him not to let the door hit him on da way out.

                      So proceed. You're just fine.

                      Down the road a spell, you'll want to quietly and gently work out the formalities. Maybe the VFW would like to charter you instead of the church. Figure out who owns the Scout Hut, who has da insurance on the scout hut (for stuff like theft!) and make sure that relationship is OK. Get a workin' committee together, includin' a fellow or two from the church and from the VFW and maybe from the city and some other folks.

                      I think yeh have some real potential to build a fantastic program which is supported by the people of your town and is a real asset to the community. Be thinkin' a few years out, have a vision of where you're goin', and never turn down generosity from friends and neighbors.

                      And never let a DE get in da way of that vision.

                      Beavah

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Sharpy: See? What did I tell you?
                        As you look thru all this good counsel, you may detect a pattern. Sympathy, recognition, choices. And our sure knowledge that you'll be okay and your Cubs will be the better. You dun good. Spend a little time to list your assets and then get on with it!
                        God speed and YiS

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thank you all for taking the time to help me...your advice and wisdom is priceless, I feel so much better about this situation than I did just a few days ago.

                          I guess I never really looked in the Scout hierarchy to see the DE's true roll, I took him to be in charge of our pack and kinda "the boss" of things...I see that's not quite true although I am far from really understanding it all.

                          Digging into our charter at this point just sound like I am opening another can of worms...for now I think I am gonna have to put that on the back burner, but I very much appreciate the input and information.

                          As for the situation with the scout cabin, it is a property was donated and deeded over to the city 40 years ago with a deed restriction stating it was specifically scout use. The city pays the utilities and insurance, we have a 10 year lease at -0- cost. The building in in good condition overall and great to have.

                          I see the point a couple of you made about changing the CO to the VFW and it makes ALOT of sense to me. They HAVE been the backbone for the support of the scouts in the past here and the church has not really showed much interest in helping us. I don't think it's intentional, I just think they know even less than I do about how the scouts work. I think the VFW's past experience and advice could be very useful for me. Who gets to decide who the CO is, is it something that can be changed easily?

                          I will follow the advice of attending the round tables and looking for a "grey haired" mentor, it would be GREAT to have someone like that to help me and I will work to get a committee together of some sort.

                          Stay tuned, I will let you know how things shake out....the VFW meeting is Thursday.

                          Once again, thank you all for your support, advice and openness.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Asking for a copy of the charter is not going too open any can of anything!
                            Just call the Scout Office ask to talk to the Registrar and have them mail you a copy.
                            You need to know who your Chartering Organization is, before you can do anything.
                            The worms only come out when you start using the information.
                            Eamonn.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I agree with Eamonn that asking for your unit roster and/or charter is not opening the can of worms. By the way, your charter org. should also be listed on the unit roster, which you have absolutely every right to have. You cannot run a program when you don't even know who is officially enrolled in and officially running your program!

                              A question: You said "we have a 10 year lease..." Who is "we" here? In the likely case that "we" is your CO, then would changing COs negate this agreement?

                              As for changing COs, it can be done but if your unit had been set up correctly, it shouldn't need to happen at this stage. The way things are **supposed** to work, when a new unit is started up, the DE identifies a CO that wants to have a scouting unit. The CO then identifies people who it wants to have as unit leaders (that would be you). Ideally then, the CO and the founding unit leaders are well known to each other and work well together. In reality, sometimes DEs (who are often under tremendous pressure because they're evaluated on how many units they start up in a year) pluck pliant COs and starting unit leaders out of thin air and do nothing to foster any actual relationship. Sounds like that may have happened for you, resulting in your situation where you don't even really know who the CO is - and they most likely don't really know who you are, either.

                              So in your case, you have a young unit and no relationship to your CO, a change to a different CO might make some sense. However, it isn't always easily accomplished and might be a thing to put on the back burner. The charter org. of record "owns" your unit, including any funds or equipment that belong to the unit. So a change in CO can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, if the original CO is not on board with it. These things need to be handled delicately. At a minimum, you should have a nice chat with the leader of your charter partner to find out whether they even want a scout unit. If they do, I'd encourage you to stick with them and develop a real relationship. If they're not so interested and the DE just twisted their arm, then you can start to talk about an orderly migration of your unit over to the VFW, with no hard feelings on the part of your current CO.

                              Comment

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