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Friend of Scouting? Going, going, gone?

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In the thread "What are your units/councils doing for families in need?"

I posted about the way things have changed in the small town where I live.

To be really honest, I don't actually live in the town, I live mid-way between two small towns. But my mailing address is for one.

I'm new to the area, having only lived here for 25 years.

HWMBO was born here, her parents, grandparents and I'm not sure how many "Great, Greats" She can go back.

There are roads, schools and a park named after her relatives on her Grandmothers side of the family.


I like where I live.

I love the area and the people.

It's just a nice place.

Driving is kind of hazardous, as you need one hand to wave at the people who are out and about. Failing to wave? Is seen as being anti-social.

We have next to no crime. The headline in the local paper a while back was all about some kids who were skateboarding near the gazebo in the center of town!


A long time back in the 1870's the town really boomed.It manufactured the largest pipe in the world in the largest pipe mill anywhere.

Within a six mile radius there are 35 churches! (I just looked that up and was really surprised!)

Some guide books say that the best example of Edwardian architecture anywhere in the US can be found in our small little town.

Having owned the local "Watering Hole" and eatery and being involved in local business organizations I know a good many people in the area.

Sadly over the past 25 years I have witnessed the death of our down town area. Local stores are unable to compete with the malls and the big chain stores.

Many of the local mid-sized businesses have also closed.

The people who owned and operated these either just got too old and their kids had no interest in working that hard or the market for what they were doing just wasn't there anymore.

Even within the past few months our local Dodge car dealer lost his dealership. He is a super older guy who has always supported the community and was my Community FOS Chairman for about ten years.

The loss of people like him, like the guys who owned local businesses has had an effect on the Council.

At one time these were the people who not only supported grass roots Scouting, working with churches and organizations that chartered units, they also sat on the Council Executive Board.

Most of these people were no nonsense types. Ask for something and they either knew where to get it, made or wrote a check so it could be got.

When I look at our Executive Board today, these guys are gone.

They have been replaced by people who work for big companies who say that their managers need to serve on Boards that serve the community. These guys need to be on the board, mainly because it looks good on their resume.

Sure, most of them are willing to pay the expected donation ($1,200) For this they do get to attend the big fund raising dinner. Some will turn out for one of the many golf outings that the Council has.

But a little while back, when things looked really bad and the Council was thinking of selling a camp. I challenged the board members to match my donation of $5,000. We had at that time sixty board members of which only two were willing to kick n the five grand.

The CPA who was a board member was asked to do an audit of the Council books. He did a wonderful job. But the Council wasn't happy when he presented a bill for almost $10,000!

I do find myself getting a little annoyed having people who have never met a Boy Scout sit on a board which can decide the fate of a Council that so many people have worked so hard for over the years -For some a lifetime.

I know that we can't turn back the clock.

I'm just nor sure how long we can keep milking the people who are already giving so much not just in their hard earned cash but also their time and energy.

I hate popcorn, I never eat the stuff!

I don't need to attend a $150.00 a plate dinner, that I can prepare much better! (I hate spending $8.00 for a beer!)

While I understand the need for FOS presentations, I really no longer feel that I can do them, knowing that in the past mismanagement has not used the money wisely.

I do still feel that we can and do perform a much needed service. I'm still willing to pay my fair share.

I know all too well that I have been blessed in fact had more than my fair share of blessings!

I do worry that if the guys at the top are more worried about their resumes? What happens to the guys who are doing all the work?



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Eamonn, I understand what you are saying.


The best FOS I've seen is in my present council...they have a special council patch each year that is truly special. Many councils do this but these are superb. I've got this year's on my uniform. I'd rather buy the patch that eat a rubber chicken dinner.


I was an ASM when popcorn first arrived as the BSA fundraiser. Though I had a very long hiatus from scouting due to military duties, I still don't see popcorn and the BSA as a true match. Who wants to pay that much money for popcorn? One silo of popcorn costs about the same as one of those special tins.


The BSA needs better public relations...visibility and reputation.


By the way, got a chuckle out of being considered new to a place where you lived for 25 years...I've been in the Air Force about the same time and have moved 11 times (number 12 coming up), not counting deployments! Your neck of the woods sounds wonderful and some day I hope to achieve the same kind of stability.

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it is almost impossible for small town merchants to compete with the Big Box because they can't put in the hours necessary (9 to 9 everyday). Has the town contacted mainstreet.org?

if the town can't do manufacturing, that leaves farming, tourism or bedroom community. can the old railroad bed be turned into a bike trail? anything historic happen in town where you can have a yearly festival?

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Amen, brother.


Several years ago the son of one of the local heavy hitters joined our pack. His business partner was a big supporter of Scouting. I suggested to our DE that he and I take this guy to lunch and try to maximize his FOS contribution. We met with the guy and hit him with an "ask" of $2,500. The fellow squirmed and didn't commit right away, but a few days later he came across with a check for the full amount. A month later he was appointed to the council executive board.


Hmmmm.... Son in Cubs for six weeks and one check and he's on the board.

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Twocub, now you know how it works in the world of professional scouting, it is a whole other world from volunteer scouting. Money talks and enough money reaps ample rewards.


Eamonn, you know I read your post three times and I really think you hit on something. Those of us over 40 remember the scouting of our youth being so much more easy going, not worrying about YP but instead using common sense and having a lot of fun. Nowadays its all about money, money , money,more and more rules and regulations. You are so right those guys who really cared about scouting, were scouts themselves, and kept our councils going are mostly all gone. Nowadays I don't know if even the volunteer scouters can keep the program alive with little to no help they receive from the council these days. Ah! for the good old days, lol.

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This really hits at one of my pet peeves. I've been a Scoutmaster for over two years and active in my current council for about eight years. I have done FOS presentations and serve on the council Religious Relations Committee. I am not shy, and I am at least familiar with most of the active "Scouters" in the council.


But I look at the members of our Council Committee, and I don't recognize many names. I wonder what their Scouting experience is? How many have spent a night in a tent with a unit in the past five years? Valid questions, I think, since these are the folks making decisions with OUR money.


I think one of the answers is that the volunteers need to take charge. We need to make it a point to get to know these folks and let them know what we expect. It would seem foolish today to sit back and assume they have the best interest of the boys at heart, especially if we aren't sure they know anything about the boys! Remember, the BOYS own this game. And nobody knows them better than the adult unit leaders. We owe it to the boys to make sure decisions are made in their best interest.



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What I'd like to see in a FOS presentation is a very transparent discussion of where the money goes. How much stays in the District, how much goes to Council, and what percentage goes to Nation. And then how it's spent. Where does the money go, and is it really used.


Enough with the vague presentations instilling mom, apple pie, and the legacy of Baden Powell.


Let's face it, all politics is local, and I'd like to know how FOS benefits our local Troop. I'm afraid this will never happen as the truth may induce contributors to just write their checks to the Troop. My preference anyway.

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Every council does things a little differently, as well as each presenter. I know that when I did FOS, I used some stats to show show where the money goes. I'm fortunate in that we have one of the council camps in our district and can see where some of the moeny is going.


As for the CEB, again every board is different, and it usually reflects on the SE. I know that in my council, several board members have some type of summer camp connection to the SE. Nice to have a "local boy" as SE. Also I do see some CEB members at OA functions.

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In our last council, the board was mostly "Alumni". Nearly every member had been a Scout or involved in Scouting when their son(s) were Scouts. One member was especially generous and spent TONS of money to support Scouting.


FOS problems resulted in the districts outside of the population center from the council. The wealthier districts (more people, higher wages, etc) received nearly all the money raised in the Council (FOS, popcorn, etc).


This resulted in the districts with the most need receiving the least support. FOS donations dwindled to almost nothing, from the Scouters in the district and the businesses that contributed. On the other hand, one district took matters into its own hands. Donors were sought for individual units and specific events within the district. The volunteers felt united enough to come together and provide their own expertise and recruit from outside of Scouts for more expertise to make some truly quality events for the Scouts. This went pretty well for a while, until council issued a cease and desist order for the "unapproved" unit and district fundraising.


So I guess I support the idea of FOS but like the idea of local business and community leaders supporting the movement more. However, shouldn't this be the same thing?


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  • 1 month later...

I know what EAmon is talking about. I am the CC of my youngest son's Pack, and a committee member of the Troop with my oldest 2 boys. I own a real estate brokerage in the area (don't mention the real estate market in the last 2 years!) and can only agree with the post. In the past year I have paid for full page ads in the Pinewood Derby program, bought popcorn, bought pizza, baked goods for the bake sale, drove the Troop trailer on 4 campouts, paid for campout fees, patches and food, uniforms, and gear. The FOS thing bugs me because it seems that it is the volunteers that wind up paying again. Last weekend I went to my council camp event for the Cubs, and they paid for porta-johns installed right in front of the new "comfort center' that was OUT OF ORDER - paid for by FOS contributions. The old guys are going out fast, and the new corporate types just cannot seem to get it together without piling on the paperwork, the regs and the scary CYA training designed to protect no one and satisfy the lawyers. Soon I'll doubt anyone at Council can tie a bowline anymore without gloves to prevent a splinter from "stray fibers" in the hemp rope.

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It's very sad to see Scouting turn into a retail operation with a cash register.


I contribute to FoS a small amount, the troop does get more from me direct.


I could not afford to be on our Board.


My small donation probably explains why I have to wait 48 hours for a return call.

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I mentioned in earlier post of mine I was the District Commissioner of a new district created out of parts of two longtime districts. It only lasted 2 years, got the OA chapter t-shirt commemorating their demise. We were created because national guidelines said the council needed another district because of number of units. The units in the new district in the most part where good FOS givers but most of the businesses in the district were parts of chains so we had near to zip on the community side. The part that remained in my old district was one city of 100,000 and another of 30,000. The other district remainder had 3 cities in 30,000 and one of 7,000. Our district had one city just shy of 10,000 and had a smaller part of city that was split by council lines. The city in our district was about 15 years old the shared one 100 years old. The rest of the new district was in unincorporated county. In old districts 3 cities are 100, the other 3 about 50 years old.


Now Im back in my old district and it always has the highest goal for FOS in the council and most years makes it. We have the largest city in the council, it is amazing how many community donors end up being counted in board or council not district totals.


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You and I could be neighbors. I'm still the newcomer after 5 years in my little community. After 5 years leading scouts a few folks know me but not my name. I could leave at any moment so no need to invest in learning names yet!


Speaking of investing, popcorn and FOS are both looked on with suspicion from the parents of my pack and troop. After paying dues, purchasing a uniform, and paying for summer camp, most aren't interested in being pitched for another contribution. They tolerate popcorn because they understand we use the proceeds for program. They are especially skeptical of FOS because their contribution doesn't stop us from being charged for camporees or other district/council events. They'd rather pay for one of our weekends out than some generic pitch from council.


Similarly, we hit up our few local businesses for material contributions and/or time during the year. I won't hit them up for cash in addition. I'd rather have the material contributions and time for the pack and troop.


What really zapped me on FOS was an outright misrepresentation by the presenter last year. I was standing in the back of the room when he asked if I was trained. "Why yes!" I replied. He then went on to talk about how I didn't pay for any of that. I didn't speak up but he was mistaken.


Our small town is some distance from the suburban center of the council. Explaining to folks that their contribution to council filters back down simply doesn't wash. I and a couple of other folks make an annual contribution to FOS and coordinate popcorn so we can check it off on the quality unit report every year but that's the extent of our participation.

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"I won't hit them up for cash in addition"


Good, because that would be a violation of BSA policy. Only Councils can solicit cash donations. I recently got the dreaded "phone call" from our DC because I did not submit an FOS pledge card (I think I was absent that night). For the first time in over 20 years, I said no. I recently learned that my health insurance is going up by $50 a month (to over $400), and I am steadily writing checks for my #2 son's upcoming wedding in 2 weeks. I fully expect that, even if I get a good evaluation next year, my takehome pay will decrease...again. I guess what bothers me is that I don't see any communication coming from council as to how they are economizing or downsizing to acccomodate the (I presume) downturn in FOS and UW donations. I am in a district that went through a 1 for 3 split a few years ago, requiring more professional staff. While our district was very large and Camporees were a challenge with almost 1000 attendees, we were very successful. Since then, the 3 resulting districts have been, I think, mediocre. Our council camp was renovated 20 years ago, and since then, not much. Last I looked at the Council's Form 990, there were two employees listed (only those making >50K need to be listed). One of them made barely more than 50K. The other made 3 times that. I have a real hard time asking people to donate toward the salary of someone who makes 3 times what the average parent in my Troop makes...when I know they are struggling with their own family issues like deaths of Dads, cancer, and job loss.

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It really bothers me to see the ever widening gap between council staffs and volunteer scouters. When I was a DE almost twenty years ago this relationship while occasionally a bit strained was never as hostile as it seems to be today nationwide. I loved the way my two districts with some fantastic volunteer scouters were able to exceed FOS goals every year and in return we had the strongest district programs, highest percentage of trained leaders in the council, and scouting was a strong presence in both districts. This could only be accomplished by maintaining good relationships between myself and the council, the volunteers,and the community leaders.


Now National seems to have lost sight for the need of this mutual cooperation to be successful and instead trying to use their authority to promote only their own self interests. And then they wonder why FOS is failing to reach their goals.

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