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Krampus

Friends of Scouting Mandatory?

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<<Received an interesting email from our District Chairman. It basically said "Every Unit, no matter the size, is expected to participate in this year’s FOS campaign...". This pretty much turned off our whole TC and adult leadership, so much so we are going to forego FoS this year.>> 

 

 

 

This kind of approach is dumb and counter productive.

 

 

For many years,  our district leadership has been respectful of units in soliciting voluntary FOS contributions.  That approach works better than any other,  in my opinion.

 

Frankly,  a unit which refuses to participate in FOS should be a useful warning to district leaders that there are problems  with the unit or with the district or council than need to be identified and corrected  ---- in my opinion.  

 

​Using this approach,  our district has consistently met it allocated FOS goal each year except for one,  at the bottom of the recent recession.

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If your FoS presenter is an unwelcome pain, you could always do a troop presentation immediately after.  "The money you give to the DE goes to the council camp that we don't attend.  If you want your money to go directly to your son's program, use the envelope that the boys are passing out now that has our troop treasurer's address on it.  Thank you!"

 

I bet the FoS guys leave you alone next year.

 

FWIW, our council is sensitive to our time when they visit.  They usually get around two grand from our 45 man troop.

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We suffer from two problems. First, we cannot sell our parents on the difference between supporting the unit and supporting the council. The parents see them all as "Boy Scouts". With the gear, uniforms, camp and events costing so much, it is hard for them to dig deeper and fund programs which their kids may never use. Second, and perhaps most important, is the sheer pomposity with which the council/district folks act before, during and after the FOS presentation. When my "Joe Average" *and* my "Gung Ho" parents walk out of a COH because they feel like they're being spoken down to, then the FOS folks have a problem.

We have had the same issues. In the past couple years our FOS presentations have been done by one of our own ASM's who is also a UC, so the "pomposity" factor has not been much of an issue. But the reason he does it is that the troop committee has made clear that we didn't appreciate the "attitude" we got from some of the "outside" presenters in the past. So this guy stepped in and volunteered to do presentations that won't tick off our parents, for which he deserves applause. (But I don't think his presentations raise much money from our unit.)

 

I also think that parents in general take the attitude that their son joined a troop - not a district, not a council, not a national. They realize they have to pay the annual registration fees, which are built into our troop dues. But beyond that, the parents don't see the council/district as providing much value, if any.

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Our district had roundtable last night with the council key 3, the VP of Programs and the camping and properties chair.  One of these 5 is a paid professional, the other 4 are volunteers.

Much of their visit was to speak about plans for possibly selling one of our camps and money.

 

This year our council did away with FOS.  They have implimented a manditory $24 "activity fee" on every registration instead.

 

Councils need money for staff (bookkeeper, paperwork processor, etc), to run training and to maintain camps (taxes, maintenance, improvements, etc.)  Without councils we couldn't function.  All of that money comes through fundraising and FOS.

In our council less than 12% of families participate in FOS, only 50% of units participate in popcorn sales and less than 10% of units participate in the sale of nuts.

 

We have 3 council run camps, only 1 of which makes money, between the 3 camps council suffers a net loss of about $75,000 a year and they have deferred maintanance on all the camps for the last 7 years.  It is very sad when a scout camp has to be sold but councils cannot run loosing money when they are not getting support from the units.

 

Just another perspective.

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Our district had roundtable last night with the council key 3, the VP of Programs and the camping and properties chair.  One of these 5 is a paid professional, the other 4 are volunteers.

Much of their visit was to speak about plans for possibly selling one of our camps and money.

 

This year our council did away with FOS.  They have implimented a manditory $24 "activity fee" on every registration instead.

 

Councils need money for staff (bookkeeper, paperwork processor, etc), to run training and to maintain camps (taxes, maintenance, improvements, etc.)  Without councils we couldn't function.  All of that money comes through fundraising and FOS.

In our council less than 12% of families participate in FOS, only 50% of units participate in popcorn sales and less than 10% of units participate in the sale of nuts.

 

We have 3 council run camps, only 1 of which makes money, between the 3 camps council suffers a net loss of about $75,000 a year and they have deferred maintanance on all the camps for the last 7 years.  It is very sad when a scout camp has to be sold but councils cannot run loosing money when they are not getting support from the units.

 

Just another perspective.

 

To be honest I like the activity fee idea better than FOS.  I think it would be easier to sell parent at registration every year by saying "yep, it's $75 a year to be in scouting.  1/3 goes to national, 1/3 to council and 1/3 to the unit.  Write one check now and we'll do local fundraisers for all the rest."  That's better than constantly coming back to the unit asking for more money.

 

FWIW, The units support the council and national by existing and running the program.  They don't owe the organization anything beyond that.  Rather, the organization exists to support the units.

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Our district had roundtable last night with the council key 3, the VP of Programs and the camping and properties chair.  One of these 5 is a paid professional, the other 4 are volunteers.

Much of their visit was to speak about plans for possibly selling one of our camps and money.

 

This year our council did away with FOS.  They have implimented a manditory $24 "activity fee" on every registration instead.

 

ROFL...I have to say that would be a deal breaker for me. I'd gladly pay my dues for BSA because these are services I require. I would not pay a user fee for something I don't....especially if the council is not good at managing its finances (not saying yours is, but I know mine isn't).

 

To be honest I like the activity fee idea better than FOS.  I think it would be easier to sell parent at registration every year by saying "yep, it's $75 a year to be in scouting.  1/3 goes to national, 1/3 to council and 1/3 to the unit.  Write one check now and we'll do local fundraisers for all the rest."  That's better than constantly coming back to the unit asking for more money.

But now you've just increased membership fees by 100% (from $24 to $48, $60 if you add in BL); and that's on top of any unit costs. So my unit charges $75 annually. We are cheap compared to others in my area ($100+ for many of them). Of that $75, BSA takes their share, the rest goes in to annual equipment maintenance, awards, meeting costs, etc. We balance out each year and have a cash-on-hand account of $2000 for emergencies. We would lose MANY members if BSA raised dues.

 

Why not just charge those units who use the camps? I don't see a need for other units to subsidize my unit using the camps, nor would I expect to subsidize other units. Make it demand-based, not a tax everyone approach.

Edited by Krampus
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... Without councils we couldn't function.  ...

 

I'd argue otherwise.  I see so much on this board relating to the council and district.  At the end of the day this is kid centric program, and ideally at the boy scout level, a boy led program.  You could deliver 95%+ of scouting with just your local volunteers and the scout book to guide the program.  

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I prefer to contribute directly to a council camp, and specific projects.  "Raising X dollars to replace the roof on the mess hall."  No problem, I'll write a check, happy to help.

 

However....

 

Will I cut a check for council overhead?   The palace-like HQ that some councils build unto themselves?   Wages for admin staffs that cannot keep the simplest records straight, nor produce quality products in a timely manner, nor provide a website that has useful information and a registration process that works?   Professional staff salary pyramid scheme?   No thanks.  

 

I'm not a complete curmudgeon.  When I was stationed at a base in the deep South, I was in a very small council.   Small/old council hq building.  A total of three people on council staff.  Dedicated, hard-working, down to earth folks.   I had no problem contributing to FOS in that council.   Did so gladly.

 

But for those other councils, with the fancy council hq, bloated staffs, superior/distant/hands off attitudes towards unit level vols, etc., it is a remarkable plan the BSA has devised:  the pros incur expenses, and the vols are expected to pay for said expenses.   With no input from the vols.  Aside from financial.

Edited by desertrat77
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....especially if the council is not good at managing its finances....

 

Krampus, this is truly the "sum of the whole matter."  

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The council gets no money from National, yes, they exist for the units but how are they supposed to pay for the services they provide?

The fees charged by summer camp is enough to offset that cost.  They pay councelors, for food, for program.  Not sure they could charge enough to offset taxes, year round property management and camp imporvements and have anyone afford to go to camps.

Our council is doing better and managing their money, they paid off our debt and have come in at or just under budget for the last 3 years, but again they have done no maintenance or upgrades on any of the camps.

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Krampus, this is truly the "sum of the whole matter."

I live in north Texas. You should see the HQs and scout shops we have! And then you should see the balance sheet of the council and how much money they have in the bank. Then go to the council camps. As you drive in notice the new training center they have built which is only used for WB and staff offices. Drive by the open-air dinning hall which reaches 103F or higher during summer camp. Then "do your duty" in one of the lovely trap johns at camp; recall the lovely aroma during summer camp. As you're doing that remind yourself of the money you give each year to FOS and in dues...and wonder why some of all that money council has cannot be spent on YOUR comfort and not the comfort of the paid staff.

 

Here's a few pics so you don't have to use your imagination except for the smell. :) BTW, the staff and offices are very modern, have A/C and flush toilets.

 

c3pUlUl.png

 

oHOCJid.png

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The council gets no money from National, yes, they exist for the units but how are they supposed to pay for the services they provide?

The fees charged by summer camp is enough to offset that cost.  They pay councelors, for food, for program.  Not sure they could charge enough to offset taxes, year round property management and camp imporvements and have anyone afford to go to camps.

Our council is doing better and managing their money, they paid off our debt and have come in at or just under budget for the last 3 years, but again they have done no maintenance or upgrades on any of the camps.

 

The councils SHOULD be able to recover their operating costs through:

  • Sale of merchandise
  • Fees for summer camp or use of council camps
  • FOS and other donations/bequests
  • Sponsorships
  • Fundraising...and if nuts, popcorn don't work find something people actually need
  • Upgrades can be funded by fundraising, having the OA actually *do* something, ask for units to help by volunteering to work on projects, get in-kind contributions, etc.
  • Cut costs b/c I will guarantee if a business man got in to the council's books they'd fine a lot more to cut than the council does

But no, councils take the easy way out: Tax their members. That's the coward's way out. Rather than actually *think* or work on something of value, they simply raise membership dues.

 

I am glad my council does not take this approach (raise dues). I guess I have that to be thankful for.

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I live in north Texas. You should see the HQs and scout shops we have! And then you should see the balance sheet of the council and how much money they have in the bank. Then go to the council camps. As you drive in notice the new training center they have built which is only used for WB and staff offices. Drive by the open-air dinning hall which reaches 103F or higher during summer camp. Then "do your duty" in one of the lovely trap johns at camp; recall the lovely aroma during summer camp. As you're doing that remind yourself of the money you give each year to FOS and in dues...and wonder why some of all that money council has cannot be spent on YOUR comfort and not the comfort of the paid staff.

 

Here's a few pics so you don't have to use your imagination except for the smell. :) BTW, the staff and offices are very modern, have A/C and flush toilets.

 

c3pUlUl.png

 

oHOCJid.png

Krampus, your description and photos of the latrines are producing a powerful memory!   :)

 

AC and flush toilets for WB training, the "pinnacle of scout leader training."    And, of course, when the pro staff in Irving needs to get away from work for an off-site, where better to reconnect with scouting and the outdoors than a nice building with all of the amenities suited for one's station in life?

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OK, I am seeing this from the perspective of our council.  The office is in a modest building that also houses the scout shop.  I believe there are 4 paid employees (in the office), the executive, a book keeper, the person who processes all the advancement paperwork and a recently added part time receptionist.  There are volunteers that help out.  We have 2 scout camps that run summer camp programs and a cub scout camp that, until this year, ran cub day camp and webelos arrow of light overnight camp.

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