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trainerlady

extortion or common practice

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Have been thinking why this would never happen where I live?

The main reason is that the fees for events like the Jambo. NOAC, Summer Camp are set by the volunteers who sit on the committees that are responsible for these events.

Of course the Council does have a representative sit on these committees, and there are costs that are set in stone.

Still, the volunteers go out of their way to do what they can to keep the costs down as much as they can.

For the Jamboree, someone on the committee knew someone who owned a trucking company that was willing to donate the truck and the trailer used to carry the equipment to and from the site. Someone else knew a bus company that was willing to provide the buses that got everyone to the site and the company only charged the cost of the drivers.

For many years we had the same District Camping Chairman. He attended the Council Camping Committee meetings with the goal of keeping the increase as low as possible.

Anyone who has ever tried to understand BSA budgets or financial statements will know that these just don't make sense.

Salaries? Very often will include all the salaries that the Council pays, professional, office staff and camp staff.

Repairs to equipment at camp? That might come out of the Council operating budget.

Buying new or replacing equipment might come out of the capital budget. T-shirts for staff? Awards and promotions budget the same budget used to buy Silver Beavers.

For a very long time no one had any real idea what the cost of anything was.

At the District level, every year the District Key 3 was supposed to sign off on the budgets for all the District events. Most of the time the budget was based on what had happened last year. In ten years as a Key 3 member these were never right, all of them were wrong. I was informed that the District had lost almost $2,000 on last years Webelos Woods. The break down of where we'd lost all this was very impressive. Sad thing was that we hadn't offered Webelos Woods for the past five years. The Day Camp budget showed that we'd paid $2,300. for a water tap in fee. Day Camp was at the same place for the past 15 years. A local Grange who donated the use of the site and never charged us for anything.

So every year I'd note what was wrong and fax it all to the Council Treasurer, normally about 40 pages.

The guys who sat on the Camping Committee used this mess to their advantage. Every year they would come back to the District Committee meeting and report how they had managed to keep the increase of the cost of summer camp down to $5.00 or $10.00. The truth was that this number was just a number taken out of the air. No one knew what the cost of camp really was so of course no one knew what the increase ought to be.

It wasn't until the Council faced a massive financial crisis that we managed to get any numbers that had any real meaning.

BSA accounting and financial reporting is terrible. It makes no sense and at times does seem to be more about confusing everyone more than anything else.

 

We the volunteers are not dumb.

We understand that there isn't any such thing as a free lunch.

If everything is open, transparent and above board we for the most part will support it and as volunteers we are of course willing to pay our own way.

But also as volunteers in a volunteer organization we have a real responsibility to ask questions, get the facts and decide what's fair.

This isn't about being a pain in the neck or any sort of "Them or us". It's about doing what's right and protecting what we have not just for ourselves but for the generations of kids who will follow.

It seems to me that if a Council is so hard pressed for money that it is willing to upset and make the volunteers mad that it has a big problem.

We the volunteers are the Council so we need to find out the reason why it needs to be asking for funds this way?

We need to be willing to work at fixing the problem.

No matter what, it does mean that doing nothing is not the answer.

Ensuring that we have the representation at District and Council meetings and having our representatives ask the right questions and report back is the first step.

Ea.

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If the FOS donation is required for participation in an event, does that change it to a fee thats not tax deductible?

 

No, because fees that adults pay to participate in Scouting are also tax-deductible. All the fees that you pay to go to jamboree (as an adult) are tax-deductible, because they are expenses associated with you providing service to a non-profit. Money you spend on uniforms is tax-deductible. (Not a lawyer or accountant, but I'm confident on this one.)

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Just a side note. It doesn't really matter a whit whether this is tax deductible. For people who are facing hard times (high unemployment in MI these days, not to mention significant underemployment), plunking down the money up front is the issue. And whether one is feeling financially secure or trying to figure out where the mortgage payment is going to come from, the notion of being expected to pay an extra $155 for the privilege of getting a signature that allows you to participate (when you're also paying for the event itself), is crazy and insulting.

 

In the other thread, Eamonn said something about the expected value to be gained by harassing and upsetting lots of volunteers for what really amount to small-fry donations. He had an excellent point. This is a very short-sighted strategy.

 

By the way, trainerlady, I'm in MI too and hadn't heard about these new fees. I've got friends who were jambo contingent leaders in the past and will be again this year (incl. for the crews). I'll ask them what they've heard about this.

 

 

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Asking relevant questions, however politely, can get you red-carded.

 

Is it not possible that irrationality in financial record-keeping is less the result of a conspiracy to obscure than a lack of ability in the paid decision-makers? While some are among the finest Scouters - and people -- I have ever met, for many Scouting was the employer of last resort which could not, in the event, be escaped.

 

A penny for a spool of thread; a penny for a needle; $1,000,000 for personnel; pop goes the budget.

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Oh, come now. Businesses routinely pay for conferences and events for employees that are "related to [the] job... but not [the] actual job."

 

Sure, when it's in the best interest of the business, and a responsible investment of the business's funds. The council should be paying the way for those pros who are being sent to jamboree as part of their job duties. But you can't blame the council for not paying the way for any employee who wishes to go volunteer at jambo.

 

In fact, in keeping with a thread that's mainly lambasting councils for inappropriate ways of raising funds, and inappropriate ways of spending funds... Well, I'd be a little ticked off if my council was going to be using it's funds to pay for any of it's employees to volunteer at an event that the rest of us have to pay for.

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If they are employees and it's a job assignment, they should be paid. In fact, in some states, they must be paid.

 

It's not the rate of pay - low enough for most. It's how many we are paying for, unlike the rest of the world. Plus there is the issue, with many of the paid Scouters, of value added. Fewer, with better pay, might be a better value.

 

 

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Lisabob,

 

I do remember that you are from Michigan, the northern section if I've figured you out right. Please let me know what is going on in your "old" council area.

 

There are 2 paid Pros going on this gambit. Each was the paid advisor on the last jambo for his respective "old" council. Michigan has been merger central for the last few years. Last jambo fell about 10 months after the first merger in the state. Each original council sent its own contingent and staffer. Lots of things were coorindated but not everything. This time around they both get to go again. Less to coordinate, less to order, less total kids even when you add venturers, less work as far as I can tell but double the staff for one council. One more thing that makes this whole fee for signatures thing piss me off.

 

If council is so short on cash that they are shaking down volunteers for signatures then maybe they should only be sending 1 pro.

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Maybe they should rethink how many people in the council should go if they can't help out the local program first.

 

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Why would professionals be staffing a Jamboree outing for Scouts? Seems like that would be a typical position for adult volunteers.

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One of Mr. West's favorite words was "control." (It led him to seriously propose that Scoutmaster's be B.S.A. employees. The National Board them began succession planning.)

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"Asking relevant questions, however politely, can get you red-carded"

Not sure about the red card? Yellow? Maybe?

What tends to happen is that someone waits till they are upset about something and any idea of "Politely" Goes out the window and then they make a fuss asking the wrong person.

There a lot of really great people who are employed by the BSA at every level. Many if not most want to do a good job and do what is right.

Still when it comes down to fixing something that we as a volunteer see as being wrong it is far better that we deal with it volunteer to volunteer.

Don't go running to the DE or the SE.

Use the system that is in place to get things sorted out.

Ea.

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I have to agree with Eamonn's point that most problems should be dealt with volunteer to volunteer. From my experience as both a long time volunteer and a District Executive when you get a pro scouter involved they will do what they see is as best for the councils interests since they have no personal investment in the units or district volunteers squabbling. The result is no one may get what they want or a person or two could be asked to leave their scouting position. A no win situation which could be better handled over a cup of coffee between the parties involved. Council advice should only be sought out for criminal issues or overall council situations.(This message has been edited by BadenP)

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Sorry, while I take the points of the last two posts, I just don't "get" the relevance in the context of the OP's issue.

 

"Just had a friend call me and tell me that in order to get his paperwork signed to volunteer at NOAC he had to cut the council FOS program a check for $155 ( family level suuport in our council). He thought the DE was messing with him, so he went to the council offices and talked to a field director and the CFO. Both told him that was the new policy and it would be published shortly. It would apply to all regional and national volunteer spots (NOAC, Jambo, etc). So now on top of paying to serve we have to pay extra to volunteer."

 

Are we talking about a policy originating with volunteers?

 

 

 

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I also like Eamon's example and advice.

 

To answer the question TAHAWK asks which is how to use that method, I would suggest the following:

 

Asking the council to clarify what their policy is is reasonable. But if the professionals at the council level are enforcing a policy volunteers don't like, I'd start raising that issue through the hierarchy of volunteers.

 

That would include district leaders, then volunteers at the council level such as the Council Commissioner and Council program leaders and such.

 

At my council the council President and Scout Executive have open access at the various council meetings for volunteers, and raising issues through those methods might be useful.

 

There are quarterly "Council Roundtables" where such issues might be raised, with breakout sessions for various program elements where such issues could be raised.

 

That would be my take on how to apply Eamon's recommendations to an issue such as that raised by the original post.

 

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TAHAWK,

 

The fee is the idea of the paid staffers, primarily the higher ups. The underlings don't seem happy about it either. They're the ones getting the flack over it and having to enforce it. Those in the ivory towers that can't be accessed don't care they just want money.

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