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witch359

Flag Ceremony at a Business

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Hi all,

 

I recently got a request from a local restaurant asking us to do a flag raising ceremony around Veteran's Day. I initially accepted and sent out an email to the troop asking for volunteers.

 

I was shocked by the negative response I got because it was going to be held at a business. Our troop committee determined that it's not appropriate because of the perception of scouts supporting the business. When I called the owner of the restaurant (with egg on my face) to explain the situation, he said that other troops have done it in the past.

 

So what's the deal? Is something like this prohibited under BSA rules?

 

Thank you for any insights.

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You should talk with the people with the negative responses.  No email, no lecture, but a face to face conversation.

 

The business is supporting veterans and Veteran's Day by having a flag raising ceremony.  They asked for Boy Scouts to perform it.  Seems reasonable to me.

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I doubt there's a rule against it; especially since scouts can do flag ceremonies at political events and such just as long as they don't provide an appearance of endorsing a candidate.

 

Especially if the business has been supportive of scouting in the past, I doubt recognizing that would be a problem.  I'm sure all know which businesses in town have supported community FOS and other council fundraisers and events, right?

 

Is the business a competitor to someone who complained about it?

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I fixed the spelling of your topic heading.

 

Is this an outdoor flagpole that the restaurant has outside its building? If so it could be viewed as kind of a "public space" even though technically it is private property?

 

Does the restaurant serve alcohol? It wouldn't make a difference to me but it might to some people, particularly in certain areas.

 

I don't think there's a rule against it but it's kind of moot unless your troop committee changes its mind. Did anyone on the committee say it was against BSA rules when they were deciding not to do it?

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I'm sure all know which businesses in town have supported community FOS and other council fundraisers and events, right?

I am not sure whether you are making that statement/question seriously or not. In my area nobody would know whether a particular business supported Scouting in the area. They might have a plaque or thank you letter or something on the wall but I doubt whether even 1 percent of people look at those things.

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Is the business a competitor to someone who complained about it?

 

No, I got a few complaints from different people.

 

 

Is this an outdoor flagpole that the restaurant has outside its building? If so it could be viewed as kind of a "public space" even though technically it is private property?

 

Does the restaurant serve alcohol? It wouldn't make a difference to me but it might to some people, particularly in certain areas.

 

I don't think there's a rule against it but it's kind of moot unless your troop committee changes its mind. Did anyone on the committee say it was against BSA rules when they were deciding not to do it?

 

It's an outdoor flag pole next to the restaurant.

 

I initially pitched it as an opportunity for service hours. The argument against it was as follows:

 

Service hours are those provided for community service for non-profit organizations. The Eagle workbook is a little more explicit - and while that is for Eagle projects, it is a reasonable guideline:
"While projects may not be of a commercial nature or for a business, this is not meant to disallow work for community institutions, such as museums and service agencies (like homes for the elderly, for example), that would otherwise be acceptable. Some aspect of a business operation provided as a community service may also be considered; for example, a park open to the public that happens to be owned by a business, but primarily benefits the community."

 

To be fair, I'm holding a little information back, but I wanted to present it the way I did in order to be as objective as possible. Let me get your perspective on the above and then I'll fill in the blanks.

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I am not sure whether you are making that statement/question seriously or not. In my area nobody would know whether a particular business supported Scouting in the area. They might have a plaque or thank you letter or something on the wall but I doubt whether even 1 percent of people look at those things.

 

I was thinking more along the lines of a "Thank you to our event sponsors" banner at a fundraising event.

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So we can setup tables in a business to sell popcorn, but we shouldn't do a flag ceremony honoring veterans because it's in front of a business?  That doesn't make sense to me.  I say do the flag ceremony unless there is some morals issue you haven't disclosed (I wouldn't do it if it was a strip club or a bar, or something like that, but a restaurant or store that incidentally sells alcohol shouldn't be a problem).

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I say do the flag ceremony unless there is some morals issue you haven't disclosed.

 

Bingo!

 

It's a Chick-Fil-A. And, oh yeah, I'm in Massachusetts. Does this help fill in the blanks?

 

The initial argument I got was largely social/religious. Then it turned to it being a business. What really irks me is that many people are trying to make a social statement and don't really care what the rules say (or don't say).

 

So, now that you have the whole picture, what do you think?

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There is no rule against this, my troop has done it.  You may find that people like or dislike certain businesses for whatever reason they like or dislike something, often extraneous reasons will be brought into a discussion about working with a business, like it not being appropriate for service hours, but really people are free to like/dislike businesses and it wouldn't be a troop's place to try to persuade them otherwise.

 

The bit about service hours has at least some arguable merit.  Drop the idea of service hours and see if that changes any views --- it likely won't, but it's worth dropping that point to focus on the question of yes or no to do the flag raising.

 

The most critical takeaway on this is one I've learned the hard way: don't say yes to any request for this type of activity until you have the actual commitment from people to do it.  I get a number of requests like this both for businesses, non profits, and community organizations.  It is more distressing (and puts both unit and BSA in a bad light) to say yes and then back out, than to just say no or let me check as a first response.

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Bingo!

 

It's a Chick-Fil-A. And, oh yeah, I'm in Massachusetts. Does this help fill in the blanks?

 

The initial argument I got was largely social/religious. Then it turned to it being a business. What really irks me is that many people are trying to make a social statement and don't really care what the rules say (or don't say).

 

So, now that you have the whole picture, what do you think?

Oh! Well, now that I have the whole picture, I think the objections are perfectly understandable. Not because it is a "business" and not because it is "social/religious", but because it being Chik-fil-A turns it into a political issue. This is a business that has been very loudly and vocally on one side of the political divide over certain issues in this country (which may be social and religious issues, but that does not make them any less political) and I think a BSA unit should stay away from that. If I were on your troop committee, I would have voted against it too - but again, not because it's a business, but because it's political. If it were Joe's Diner I wouldn't have a problem with it, especially if Joe were very active in the community and/or Scouting and was clearly doing this as a community service.

Edited by NJCubScouter

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The most critical takeaway on this is one I've learned the hard way: don't say yes to any request for this type of activity until you have the actual commitment from people to do it.  I get a number of requests like this both for businesses, non profits, and community organizations.  It is more distressing (and puts both unit and BSA in a bad light) to say yes and then back out, than to just say no or let me check as a first response.

 

Excellent advice.

 

 

Oh! Well, now that I have the whole picture, I think the objections are perfectly understandable.

 

 

Thanks everyone for the sanity check.

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Oh! Well, now that I have the whole picture, I think the objections are perfectly understandable.

 

Thanks everyone for the sanity check.

 

I will choose to interpret that as a compliment. :)

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If it were Target instead of Chick-fil-a, would your troop committee have the same qualms?

If it were me, I wouldn't have the same qualms. Target is not known for their political lobbying. In my area, they are known for their long, long lines at checkout (at least at night, when I go) because they usually have 2 out of 18 registers open. Which is one of the ways they keep their prices low. But I digress...

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