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Committee voting

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I understand BSA does not give a lot of direction on this issue but I am trying not to recreate the wheel for our 1st year committee.

When it comes to spending money on purchases, does your committee always vote? Our committee wants to buy some tents for our new troop for few hundred dollars. Trying to get us to decide on 2-3 tents is as hard as trying to get a bunch of scouts to decided on the same - too many options, too many opinions. As such, we are now weeks into discussion without new tents.

For this and other items, how does your committee handle it? Does someone eventually just make the decision or are you able to come to consensus? I don't want to steamroll the other members but I also don't want paralysis by analysis.

On a side note, know of any good tents for sale? 😵

 

Ideally, we have them in hand a week from how for our COH.

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For your specific issue, our committee gives the SM a yearly allocation for gear purchases.  (Usually this is an estimate based on the SM and QM trying figure out what the troop needs will be. If the PLC is running smoothly, the SPL would be the one submitting the estimate.) The committee does not get into the weeds of what gear is purchased. That way, if the SM and scouts are buying a new stove, and see a couple of tents competitively priced, they may buy them. Receipts are turned into the treasure, and the committee sees the total dollar amount of gear purchased in the treasurers report, and the list of gear purchased in the SM/SPL report.

The same applies to most general expenses. The committee establishes a budget, and delegates the responsible parties to work within that budget. There are some things that come up quickly and cannot be budgeted, like families needing support for camp fees and the cost is beyond SM's discretionary budget. I've recommended that committees handle those between the treasurer, CC, and SM in executive session, and the treasurer reports the expense as an anonymous line item like "Camp fees for scouts in need".

Bottom line: the committee should focus on deciding how to support what the scouts want to purchase ... not deciding what to purchase for them.

Since our troop doesn't buy tents, and I only buy tarps, I can't help you on your hunt!

Edited by qwazse
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In our troop the SM works with the QM and the ASM of equipment to identify what is needed, what features are needed and they choose what fits. We then look at several sources and figure out costs. At a commitee meeting we ask for funds first, then provide details of the tent. The vote is for providing funding not for the type of tent. 

 

We only buy Eureka Timberline tents and always wait for the Campmor 25% sale.

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Why is the committee involved in what type of tents to buy?

Back in the day, our QM was responsible for gear selection. He was given a budget and did all the research. Sadly the committee member didn't follow his advice,  and bought different tents that were on sale. The bulk of those tents were destroyed on the first camp out, the rest of them on the second.

The Scouts know their needs better than adults.

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34 minutes ago, qwazse said:

The same applies to most general expenses. The committee establishes a budget, and delegates the responsible parties to work within that budget. There are some things that come up quickly and cannot be budgeted, like families needing support for camp fees and the cost is beyond SM's discretionary budget. I've recommended that committees handle those between the treasurer, CC, and SM in executive session, and the treasurer reports the expense as an anonymous line item like "Camp fees for scouts in need".

Bottom line: the committee should focus on deciding how to support what the scouts want to purchase ... not deciding what to purchase for them.

This is what we do too. 

Empower smart people to make the right choice and then trust their judgement.  The role of the committee is understand the needs of the program and then allocate resources (money, people, etc) to meet those needs.  For money this is done by setting a budget or by approving funds for a special purpose.  But, once those funds have been allocated, it's up to the responsible people to make the decisions on what to buy.  It's not the job of the committee to make specific decisions like this.

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Do not involve a Committee vote on tent selection, leave it up to those sleeping in them. The Eureka Timberline 4 person is probably the Scout standard and a good choice.  I would set the budget max at the cost of a Timberline.  For flexibility of sleeping arrangements and avaialble tenting space, I've found that a 4 person is better then 2 person tent.

Campmor is great and they advertise a less expensive Mountainsmith Bear Creek 4 Tent.  Involve your Troop Quartermaster more and FYI... I've found that putting an inexpensive plastic ground sheet under the tent helps save the floor.

 

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or it could be done in reverse order. The QM in consult with the PLC determines what gear is needed, puts together a proposal to the SM who brings it to the Committee to approve the funds. 

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2 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

This is what we do too. 

Empower smart people to make the right choice and then trust their judgement.  The role of the committee is understand the needs of the program and then allocate resources (money, people, etc) to meet those needs.  For money this is done by setting a budget or by approving funds for a special purpose.  But, once those funds have been allocated, it's up to the responsible people to make the decisions on what to buy.  It's not the job of the committee to make specific decisions like this.

Yes, sounds like to many cooks in the kitchen. I agree with empowering the smart people, or person. Look for the expert to ask the right questions for considering the right selection. Budget may be one of those questions, but you don't need a whole committee to make that point. And keep the PLC in the discussion. 

As for the tent itself, I agree that the Timberline is a fine tent for scouting in general, but it doesn't hold well in the Oklahoma winds. They tumble away really well, which is why dome tents are more popular here. Just an example of why you need to ask the right questions, and other troops would be a great start.

Barry

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Ultimately it the SM, who would have already had consult with the PLC (and ASMs if needed) that would present a request to our committee for X $s to purchase tents.  I wouldn't at all have debate in my meetings on the type of tent, just whether we had majority to allocate the funds.  The SM might come to me as CC, or I may go to him, to discuss the item(s) if we each felt it necessary.  Being a first year group, your committee seems to still be "norming".  A private aside with the CC to encourage that they try to keep these discussions on point and concise might be a good idea.  

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If it were my troop ....

  • I'd want the scoutmaster to let the treasurer and committee chair know before major purchases.  Not for approval.  More to be polite and considerate.
  • Annual planning should setup the budget and expectations.  From there, don't nit-pick the SM.  He's a volunteer.
  • Tents will last longer than the scouts.  As such, I would "guide" the scouts as it will be a long-standing decision ... mainly because you want all the tents to match and have interchangeable parts.
  • We used to use the base Eureka Timberline 4 tent (with vestibule).  Never had trouble with wind if it was properly staked down.  We've now switched to the Eureka Timberline 4 "OUTFITTER" tent.  The lower rain fly is critical to keeping the tent dry.  The base version rain fly just is too short.  The new base version zipper is too fragile for the scouts (old version from years ago had a great zipper).    
  • We've always looked for deals.  This is a $399 tent, but we've never paid more than $220.  Always be on the hunt for a sale.  

IMHO, having a standard troop tent is important.  It helps set the personality of the troop.  It helps let scouts room with other scouts instead of just their friends. 

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I recommend getting scouts opinion on type of tents, they will be the ones using them. 

Our committee is in charge of funds to prevent overspending or misallocation.  SM is in charge of the scouts.  Our QMs have never been very good because of lack of training.  No Equip. Coord..  Usually SM tells committee the scouts need tents. Budget would have been set aside for general equipment wear and tear replacement, usually enough to cover several tents or misc each year but even better if its not needed.  SM says we need 3 tents, treasurer says ok we budgeted enough to cover those but any other new gear will need to be discussed.  CC asks for a 'second' from the committee to confirm spending the money.  If anyone has a problem they just speak up.  If enough people disagree then its voted, majority wins.  Ultimately the CC is in charge, so CC would have final call but that can come off as an abuse of power in our group.  This process works well for our group.  We had drama in the past when individuals wanted to purchase a few high-end tents for the scouts and would have emptied the troop's account.

If you go with Eureka, as some others have suggested, call their customer service and explain that you want to buy multiple tents specifically for scouts.  I haven't done this for a few years but at the time, we were able to get them for approx. $150 each when they retailed for closer to $300.  Ask if there's any free shipping deal also.  If you are buying multiple tents, I recommend contacting any tent manufacturer directly to see if there is anything they can do for you before buying retail.

 

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1 hour ago, fred8033 said:

If it were my troop ....

  • We used to use the base Eureka Timberline 4 tent (with vestibule).  Never had trouble with wind if it was properly staked down.  We've now switched to the Eureka Timberline 4 "OUTFITTER" tent.  The lower rain fly is critical to keeping the tent dry.  The base version rain fly just is too short.  The new base version zipper is too fragile for the scouts (old version from years ago had a great zipper).    

IMHO, having a standard troop tent is important.  It helps set the personality of the troop.  It helps let scouts room with other scouts instead of just their friends. 

That's quite an assumption there. I'm going to assume that you haven't camped much in Oklahoma.

Barry

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Based on thirty-eight year's experience in OH, PA and WV,  twelve months per year, the "Timberline" is good for wind coming along the  long access of the tent and poor in cross winds.  In cross winds, the side collapses in and hits the occupants in the face - only bad after the first 2000 hits.

 

Eureka came out with what was essentially a Timberline with a center hoop to solve this short-coming, the recently discontinued "Alpine Meadows." 

Eureka "expedition tents" had a model with several reinforced side tie-outs to resist the wind.

Our Scouts can usually set up a TL by feel.

Edited by TAHAWK

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Pick a small number of people who either know or will learn quickly what will work best.  If you really feel like the committee needs to vote make it an up or down vote on the proposed tents.

After a lot of research and some missteps our troop has gone to ALPS Mountaineering 5 Person Outfitter tents.  Three scouts and gear comfortably for weekends.  One of the reasons we went with them was when were still researching and experimenting I had purchased a four man version, and after a wild thunderstorm mine was the only tent standing and dry .  The less fortunates included a couple Timberline Outfitters.

Hikerdirect.com (ALPS) sells to scouts at a deep discount.

 

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20 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Why is the committee involved in what type of tents to buy?

Because we are all brand new and trying to figure this out on our own. Until the first response in this thread, I had not even considered that we could simply leave it up to the SM.

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