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Everything posted by Polaris

  1. Polaris

    Den meeting agenda

    Agree with NJCubScouter. Pack Meetings involve the Cubmaster and the entire group of boys. Dens involve boys in the same grade and they meet separately from the Pack. I am aware with some Packs in our area, the boys all meet on the same night and in the same location. One night a month is reserved for the Pack Meeting and the other 3 nights are reserved for Den Meetings. If this is the case in your Pack, I agree with you. On the night the Dens meet, it appears too much time is being spent on group time and not enough time in the Den Meeting.
  2. A former Boy Scout leader was told by his Catholic Church he cannot resume his role despite the policy change. http://m.wlky.com/news/former-gay-boy-scout-leader-says-hes-not-allowed-to-return-to-leadership-role/34538506
  3. Polaris

    Den Leader Knots

    I second Qwazse. Make copies of all paperwork. Always. Make. Copies. As a former CC, I gave a copy to our DE or took it to the Council office for processing. DE would take to Roundtable to give the award to the individual or I would pick it up and take it. I left it up to the DE or Council to get the elusive final signature. If I picked it up, I would then give it to the Scouts to present to their Den Leader at a Pack Meeting with a blurb on why their Den Leader was the best DL ever. The Den Leader will appreciate the presentation for the Scouts way better than from the DE at RT.
  4. The Troop is sending 2 crews to NT in 2016 out of the Atikokan base. A couple of years ago, the crews paid extra for the lightweight canoes for their NT trip. Most of the adults that went on this trip recommend the aluminum canoes stating the weight savings was negligible. They also said the lightweight canoes are more easily damaged. The 2016 crew is a 50/50 mix of young/older scouts with very little canoeing experience. We will have enough adults in each crew to solo carry a canoe including the interpreter. For those of you that have attended NT, what do you recommend--lightweight or aluminum canoes? Is the cost worth the benefit?
  5. We use payment agreements for High Adventure trips.
  6. Polaris

    Unit Tech Tools

    Website--outdated. Needs webmaster. However, Google Calendar link is current. Members log in to view TroopMaster reports, adult and youth rosters, meeting minutes, etc. TroopMaster for advancement. TroopLedger for finances. Google Groups for mass email. Divided into adults only and adults/youth. Primary form of communication. Shutterfly share site. Photos are uploaded into event folders. MS Excel, Word and PowerPoint for spreadsheets, docs and COH slide presentations. Not sure of program used to create COH printed programs.
  7. Polaris

    Pack Logos

    Our CC is a graphic designer. She designed ours--obviously free of charge. Poll your parents and see if you have some talented folks. Some of the "logos" you see out there are on t-shirts from ClassB.com.
  8. Polaris

    Northern Tier Ely Shoes Question

    Here's an idea for a water boot--Keen Gorge Water Boots--however, this model is discontinued. Less expensive than boots in the NT Trading Post. These boots were acceptable by BSA NT standards. SM's son wore these for BSA NT 2013 expedition out of Atikokan, ON and into Quetico. SM said they were perfect. Rugged soles with 3mm neoprene and adjustable straps.
  9. Polaris

    Treasurer Dilemma

    You are not going to find specific guidance on Eagle advancement reimbursement procedures. This is determined by your unit's committee with very limited guidance from the BSA. Your CO may offer more guidance as it should reflect their policies and procedures. I suggest you bring this up at your committee meeting. Our policy is in writing, so we are all on the same page. Here is our policy: ECOH expenses are the family's responsibility however, with receipts, can be reimbursed out of the scout's account--which consists of parent funds and fundraiser funds. Eagle Project expenses are reimbursed, with receipts, from the scout's Eagle Project Fundraiser Account only after the project beneficiary and Scoutmaster has signed off on the paperwork. The family may also request reimbursement from their scout account if they didn't raise enough funds to cover the entire project expense. Any remaining funds in the Eagle Project Fundraiser Account are donated to the beneficiary. The troop will write a $50 check to the parents as an Eagle gift from the troop. The check is not written until receipt of the Eagle credentials from National BSA and the SM notifies me of such. With the exception of the Eagle gift, no receipt=no check.
  10. Polaris

    National Discourages Debit Cards?

    No. You cannot stop payment. You would resolve it in this manner: Step 1: Contact the retailer and explain the problem and settle the issue. Step 2: If this does not resolve the problem, contact the financial institution of the card and file a dispute. This is then turned over to Master Card or VISA and they will contact the retailer to investigate the issue. Exceptions to this may include: "All sales final" sales or an agreed payment per terms of a contract. Of course, you must be timely reporting the dispute. Sounds like a credit card, eh? A lot of folks have misconceptions about debit cards and that they don't offer the same protections as a credit card. Well, this just isn't true. Here is an explanation of "What is a Debit Card" per VISA: "Debit cards are payment cards that debit—or subtract—money directly from your account, as if you were paying with cash or a check. So, for your debit card to work, you must already have the money in your account to cover the transaction. Debit cards are sometimes referred to as check cards. Debit cards differ from credit cards in that credit cards are payment cards that draw from a credit line—money made available by your card Issuer. In many cases, you are given a grace period to pay for your purchases, and if you do not pay in full by the end of this period, you are charged interest. Certain credit card issuers may charge interest from the date of the transaction even if you pay your balances in full every month." Source: http://usa.visa.com/personal/get-help/financial-skills/debit-cards.jsp
  11. Polaris

    National Discourages Debit Cards?

    This depends upon when you report the fraud to the bank according to Fair Credit Billing Act and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. Source: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0213-lost-or-stolen-credit-atm-and-debit-cards If the loss is reported within 2 days for a debit card, the maximum loss is up to $50. Wait for more than 2 days, you may be responsible for up to $500. That being said, I asked our banker about this and he said if it is legitimate fraud, not to worry about it. He said they have clients that report fraud monthly--believe it or not. For this reason, units utilizing debit cards must be proactive and go online at least 3 days/week to check account activity. Units cannot wait until the monthly statement arrives in the mail. Those individuals with debit cards must report all transactions as soon as they are made to those with online access. If I see an unusual transaction, I will send a text to the Scouter with the card to inquire about the transaction. The usual response is, "Oops! Sorry, I forgot to text you. I went to Wal-Mart today."
  12. Polaris

    National Discourages Debit Cards?

    We use credit/debit cards. It is a convenient way to pay online summer camp and HA deposits. And it eliminates postage on registered mail. The CC, SM and ASM will text a receipt so I can match the charges to our online bank account and categorize within TroopLedger. I will use the card to make after-hours ATM deposits and the receipt includes an image of the check. I go online and check our account several times a week and look for unusual activity. I was leary when I learned we had them, but cards work well for our large troop.
  13. Polaris

    Leader Gifts

    I received a Starbucks gift card. Since I rarely go out for coffee, it was a nice gift. I also received a camping duffle bag that I now use in Boy Scouts. My son recently swiped it from me and uses it when he isn't using his backpack. Several years ago, I gathered up the boys and had them present their Webelos Leader with a knot award. I had them stand up and tell a favorite story or why they thought Mr. T was a great Den leader. He was so surprised. I could tell it made his day.
  14. Polaris

    Unit Treasurer

    Fraud and Theft ....can happen without dual signatures. Money could easily be transferred from the general fund into someone else's account. No reimbursement check needed. The SM could purchase 2 bags of charcoal and 3 propane refills and keep a bag and tank for his personal use. I don't know of anyone in the Troop that is checking all of the purchases and making sure they are all present and accounted for. The grubmaster could hand me a receipt and his parents keep half the food for themselves. Patrols will often combine at a campout if they are missing a majority of members. The adults aren't checking on them to see who ate with whom or how many actually provided the food. I am sure there are other ways to work around the system. You get the idea. Don't get me wrong. I am not against dual signatures, but it isn't the absolute solution to preventing embezzlement. It requires many layers of checks and balances. Ideally, the Treasurer should have an auditor. This is someone that does not touch the money. He/She can review the checking account and receipts and statements. I had an auditor when I was the Pack's Treasurer. I would send him the receipts and he had online access to look at the checking account and match the checks to the receipts. He could not sign checks nor did he make deposits. (He is an IRS enforcement agent by trade. ) I am unsure if the SM and CC are going online and looking at the account. I will ask them about it. Although, I can't make the SM and CC go online and check my work. They have the ID and password to do so. I periodically send them my son's account statement so they can go over it. I don't want parents to think I am doing "funny stuff," so I create duplicate systems to assure there is an audit trail to track all of my work.
  15. Polaris

    Unit Treasurer

    Reimbursements: ....must have a receipt. The grubmasters must turn in food receipts within 2 weeks after the campout. The family can be reimbursed directly via a check or they can have the credit applied to their account. Most opt for a credit. If no receipt, thanks for your donation! Now, I have called a campsite and requested a receipt when the individual couldn't find it buried in his email. The SM and CC use their debit cards quite frequently, so honestly, I don't write a lot of reimbursement checks. They will throw the receipt on the shopping cart or on their lap or kitchen counter and snap a photo of it and text it to me. The one thing I do need from them is the category for the expense so I know how to track it in TroopLedger (or Quicken) as well as the net worth statement. I suspect other leaders from other units (Outings Chair) book their campsites and activities, but our SM and CC make most of the reservations via their troop-issued debit/credit cards. The Pack's CM was asked to get some info for a venue for PWD, Raingutter Regatta and Blue and Gold and bring it back to the Committee for discussion. Instead, he went out and signed contracts and wrote deposits out of his own funds. The CC had to reiterate the importance of running expenses past the Committee for approval. Fortunately, the sites were good, so all is OK. If I receive a request for a reimbursement and I question its validity, I will run it by the SM or CC just to be sure.
  16. Polaris

    Unit Treasurer

    SP--Thanks! BTW--Sometimes I act like I am 21, but I am much older....... Fundraisers and Cash: The troop's main fundraiser goes on all year long. The money ebbs and flows throughout the year, but the majority of it comes in around June. To be honest, I am not sure this fundraising chair counts all the money before she hands it to me. I have never asked. She puts it into an envelope or ziploc bag and hands it to me. For this reason, I count it several times before I finalize the deposit. I then send her a spreadsheet of my individual deposits along with expenses (related to the specific fundraiser) and their dates in order for her to determine the net profit. I suppose her "cash receipt" is the spreadsheet I forward her. Deposits: When I make a deposit, I make separate deposits at the bank for each "category." In other words, dues, popcorn fundraiser, spaghetti dinner fundraiser will all have a separate deposit slip. I know this is more work for the teller, but hey, it is what it is. In addition to tracking deposits in TroopLedger, I also run a spreadsheet to coincide with the deposits. The spreadsheet tracks the name, category (scout acct, popcorn, Eagle donation, Troop donation, etc.), ck # or cash, amount, date of deposit, total deposit amount. The amount column and total deposit column should equal each other at all times. I create a worksheet for each month and start a new Excel spreadsheet at the start of the fiscal year. People Handing Me Stuff in a Hurry: I carry a large zippered notebook to each meeting with dividers. (I took this idea from the previous Treasurer.) I have a mini-stapler, paper clips, recycled envelopes, pens, Sharpies, etc.--In other words, a desk. If they shove stuff at me, I grab an envelope and jot down their name, amount (if cash) and what category it goes towards. I will write out the cash receipt later. I also have paper where I can jot down To Do notes if I can't complete everything right then and there. The notebook also has pocket dividers where I keep summer camp payment info, High Adventure info, patrol rosters, troop calendars, phone lists, TroopLedger tips, etc. SP--If the private message system works, send me your email and I will forward my spreadsheets. ​
  17. Polaris

    How do you handle applications securely?

    You could ask the individual to take their app and YPT certificate directly to the Council office and thank them for saving you a trip. Just be sure they give you the copies in the back so you have their info (sans SSN). I remind folks that the BSA is serious about background checks and their personal info is necessary to run the check. I also let them know I will guard the app and take it to Council ASAP to reduce the risk it will end up in the wrong hands. I haven't had any issues after they understand why the numbers are needed.
  18. Polaris

    Unit Treasurer

    Background: We have a large troop. We maintain "scout accounts" and parents pay into the account and hold reserve funds for activities. We use TroopLedger software to move funds back and forth between scout accounts, reserve accounts and the general fund. I send families statements each month so they can see what is going on in their son's account. This takes quite a bit of time since we have a large troop. Re: Financial Policies ​ We don't have a lot of written financial policies. Most policies are written after dealing with an issue. For example, fundraising funds cannot be written to an individual--they go into the troop general fund. Most of the policies are common sense practices. Re: Tenure As far as I know, the position is mine as long as the Committee is happy. The TroopLedger software has a steep learning curve. I dread training my replacement. I am making a "TroopLedger Tips" guidebook as I go to help out the next individual. IMHO--finding a new Treasurer each year would be a burdensome task. We have a lot of parents, but I don't think many would come forward to take this on. Re: Cash deposits I often get handed a large wad of cash from the fundraising chairs. I do not issue cash receipts for these. I do make separate deposits for each fundraiser and write on the deposit slip what the deposit was for. We use online banking and you can click on the deposit line item, download the deposit slip and see my handwritten note on the deposit slip. I will then email the spreadsheet to the fundraising chair to make sure we are in agreement. When I receive individual cash payments, I issue a cash receipt and keep the carbon-less copy. If they do not want to wait for a receipt, I will still post the transaction in my receipt book. I will then make a separate deposit and again, write on the deposit slip the name of the individual that paid. Most folks pay with a check, so I don't have a lot of cash payments. Re: Checking Account Statements The Treasurer, SM and CC have online access to the checking account. Statements are not mailed. I will download the statements and save them. I also print off a statement to reconcile with and then staple all the deposit slips to it. Re: Statements at a Committee Mtg I bring all the receipts and statements and everything else to each Committee Mtg just in case someone wants to look at it. No one has asked to look at them yet. Agree with SP. To go over the monthly transactions would take way too much time at a meeting. I just present the bottom line. I provide a detailed spreadsheet of the troop's net worth at each meeting. Re: Timely deposits I like to make deposits within 1-2 days. The exception is when I get that wad of cash with two large envelopes of checks and it takes me several hours to count and re-count the stack. Usually I can get this completed by the end of the week and this only occurs twice a year. The issue I have is parents that hold fundraising checks for a couple of months and then they come back with NSF. Our bank charges us for bad checks. This has happened 3 times this year. Fortunately, 2 of them eventually made funds available and I put on my sad face and asked the bank to take care of the other charge. Re: Dual Signatures We don't do this. I don't know why. The CC and SM have signature cards on file with the bank. It would be easy enough for me to ask either of them to sign them at a meeting. I make sure I have a receipt for every check just in case someone wants to question/audit my work. I practice as though someone will be looking at my work at some point in time. (The CO does not participate with the unit's day-to-day operations.) Re: Debit/Credit Cards The SM, CC, an ASM and myself have debit/credit cards. I only use mine to make after hours ATM deposits. The others will text me a photo of the receipt matching the transaction. I will then email the photo to myself and then download the receipt into my "Receipts" folder which is organized further into months. I was leery when I found out about the debit cards, but it is quite handy for the ASM to use it on a campout to buy some last minute propane, paper towels and charcoal. There is no need to write him a reimbursement check. Re: Online Account I will go online and check our account 3-4 times/week. I look for fraudulent activity as well as debit card transactions. Sometimes the debit card is used and I don't get a timely receipt. Since the last 4 digits of the card show up online, I know who swiped the card and I send a gentle reminder to forward the receipt. Re: Pile-o-Receipts My goal is to start scanning all the receipts at the end of the year so I can get rid of the paper. Currently, I have two backup copies of my Troop XXXX Treasurer folder just in case my computer crashes. If folks want to look at an older document, it will be easy enough to attach it to an email or plug in the thumb drive at the church.
  19. Polaris

    Online Popcorn sales

    Regarding ordering from the popcorn's site: Check on the shipping costs. Two years ago, my son sold popcorn to his out-of-town relatives via the Camp Masters website. I then had to listen to their complaints during Thanksgiving dinner about the cost of shipping. It was as much as the boxes of popcorn. Other parents in the Pack complained about the same thing and the Pack no longer mentions the ability for individuals to order online.
  20. Polaris

    Winter Lock-In

    We have a Cub Scout lodge "camp-in" in January. Lights out at 10:00 or 10:30 pm. No all-nighters here. One lodge has 2 inch floor mattresses and another has bunks. We have non-advancement indoor and outdoor activities. Breakfast in the kitchen includes Webelos-cooked pancakes and reheated frozen turkey sausage and adults supervising Ziplock bag eggs. And coffee. For dinner, sometimes we order pizza or we will go outside and cook over coals. This camp-in has our largest attendance because parents are using flush toilets, there aren't any bugs, they don't have to set up a tent and the building is climate controlled. Have fun!
  21. Polaris

    Winter Lock-In

    Sock Wars is great game in this environment. Have families bring several bags of socks. Flip the tables on their sides and/or bring cardboard boxes to make forts. Ball up the socks, blow the whistle and go. Kids vs. kids. Adults vs. kids. If you are hit, you are out. Time the rounds. Be prepared for screaming and lots of energy. Wash, pair up and donate socks to local shelter.
  22. Polaris

    Tickets done!

    I just sent in my last ticket item. I asked my WB Program Director to leave my stuff at the Council counter in lieu of the beading hoopla. He said I could at least meet him and my TG for coffee and a congratulatory handshake. Will do so in the next couple of weeks.
  23. Polaris

    Over the top Blue and Gold

    Our Pack provides meat and families bring potluck sides. We use an online invitation thru Evite or Punchbowl. Guests can RSVP and sign up for potluck via the electronic invitation.
  24. Polaris


    Dues are $144. Fee includes Boy's Life. Troop pays for Leader BSA registrations as a thank you. This is a large troop with a lot of Leaders. Volunteers are not reimbursed for mileage unless it is further than 4 hours. A portion is used towards the cost of NYLT. ASMs may request for up to $25 for training, but most do not. Base campout price averages $17-18 to include site and food. If the Scouts whitewater, climb, snow tube, amusement park, caving, it is going to cost more. Troop did not raise fees to cover increased BSA registration fees. They will look at the budget again in April. Out-of-Council summer camp this year is $250.
  25. Polaris

    Frequently Absent Scouts

    You can Scout and participate in sports. Some families choose sports or whatever over Scouting. Your enthusiasm for Scouting is not the same as theirs. A Scout family with frequent absences will receive a phone call from the Den Leader. In almost all cases, the family has quit. As far as volunteering and financial responsibilities, if it is the same family again and again, a phone call is needed--not an email. "Mrs. Smith, I am giving you a reminder phone call that you signed you to help with........ Will you be there on Tuesday? Also, we ask our families to help out with expenses and could you bring $xx to the meeting? Thanks again. See you on Tuesday!" If you put them on the spot, you will get your answer. If they don't return your phone call, then move on to Plan B. Our Pack collects a lump sum for dues--thru popcorn and/or personal check. This way the Den Leaders are not responsible for collecting funds--they're responsible for their program and the fun. The DLs have a budget for reimbursable expenses. Families pay their Pack dues and if they show up, they get to enjoy Scouting. If not, well, they missed out. I recommend you discuss your concerns with the Pack Committee especially if one family's absence is messing up your scheduling, planning and dividing up of responsibilities. Our Den Leaders will ask families to help out with small tasks, such as snacks, and if they no-show, no big deal. The kids will not starve. You now know these are not the families that will be responsible for larger tasks such as running a Den meeting much less a Pinewood Derby. It's called the Oreo test. Identifying a potential helper or volunteer is very important to event planning be it a Den activity or a Pack event rather than passing around a sign up sheet and ask all folks to put their name on it because everyone else did. Potential volunteers are engaged--they pay attention, they ask questions, they show up. If you are assigning tasks before you get to know someone, you are gambling they will follow through. http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2014/02/26/try-this-identify-potential-scout-leaders-with-the-oreo-test/