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Treflienne

Scout involvement in budget and spending decisions

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Time for a new topic:

To what extent are scouts involved in making the troop's budget?  To what extent are scouts involved in spending decsions within (pre-made) budget categories?

What have you seen (and how well has it worked)?
What do you think is the ideal?
What have been the major schools of thought on this subject?

Obviously some expenses are mandatory if you want to be a scout troop (rechartering fees) and ought to be included in any sane budget.   Other expenses I cannot imagine dropping (patches for ranks, merit badges, etc).  

But there is a lot of stuff that is rather discretionary:  buy cakes for COHs and pizza for PLC meetings (some troops do)?  how much to devote to buying equipment?  

Do the scouts have a lot of say, or little say, in the budgetting/spending process?   And which scouts?

Last year the troop had no money and no budget -- so we are starting from scratch here.  Both in terms of building a budget, and in expectations for how much the scouts are involved in the process.  It would be nice to have a broader perspective than simply that of the boys' troop of our same CO.

 

 

 

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Maybe I'm sentimental, but my experience is that it worked best in my troop growing up where the youth was the treasurer. He collected dues at every meeting. (I used my Christmas and Birthday money to "pay ahead" in dues.) He also checked and collected funds for all fundraisers. Sometimes an adult would help by manning the ticket booth at our pancake breakfast. And the scoutmaster would deposit those funds in the troop bank account. He would then report to the PLC and the troop committee on how those funds were spent. Sometimes he would let the troop as a whole know about specific expenses (summer camp, rechartering, etc ...).

I rarely see this happen in a modern troop.

From my experience with venturing, I believe any unit is best served with a youth treasurer who bears primary responsibility for receiving funds and accounting for expenses. The adult treasurer serves as an auditor. Most banks require an adult to cut checks. So, there's that. But otherwise, @Treflienne, I would maximize the hand that youth have in all fiscal matters. This makes sure accountability is a two-way street. Think of it. If your older scouts can't understand what your treasurer is doing, there's a good chance something is being done wrongly.

The committee should make general recommendations as to the ideal size of the unit's balance, who should be given a discretionary account, and what items should be in the budget. That's the benefit of adult association. But, the PLC (or crew officers) should set the budget. Honestly, I would see some benefit in Webelos doing this at the pack level to a degree. Wise is the committee who asks their tenured scouts of any age if they should expand or scale back certain activities. Some boys might rather have a high-tech PWD track, others might rather use scrap lumber for a track and have a live act (magician? music group?) at their B&G. Did anybody ever ask your Webelo's what's important to them?

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Good.  So I am not crazy to want the scouts involved in the process, and not to want the committee to set a budget and decide spending with no scout input.   (I am still rather uncertain about how many non-BSA ideas I am bringing along from my girl scout background.)

@qwazse, thanks.

The rest of you:  any more suggestions for best practises as to how to involved scouts in the process?

 

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In my experience, scouts may be somewhat involved with the troop program budget and the equipment budget (e.g., quartermaster requests or scouts already have our own tents).

The PLC plans the activities for the program year and then there is some thrifty back and forth with the Troop Committee as to what is feasible. The thrifty back and forth involves networking for bargains (e.g. stay at someone's cabin, borrow tents), fundraisers needed, dues, etc.

Some units prefer pay as you go while others prefer fundraisers to have a cash on hand to fund the coming year. In the former, a scout pays his/her expenses for activities, gear, and awards and a share of common expenses like recharter and unit gear. 

At the patrol level, the meal budget for an outing is scout run. 

My $0.01 for rambling.

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4 hours ago, Treflienne said:

...  So I am not crazy to want the scouts involved in the process, and not to want the committee to set a budget and decide spending with no scout input.   (I am still rather uncertain about how many non-BSA ideas I am bringing along from my girl scout background.) ...

As was once said to me: you might be crazy, but you're also right.

There are a lot of things that GS brought to my venturing crew, a good sense of costs and payments was one of them.

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In our troop, scout budgeting involvement changed depending on the scouts we had and the adult leaders we had.

Scouts always worked meal cost.  Parents helped as it was their checkbook that paid for the food when their son was shopping.   Often, scouts worked all event costs and how to split cost for the event.

Scouts always did the annual event and calendar planning.  Usually, adults reserved sites and worked the budgets.  A few times, scouts got involved in total costs.  But not usually.  

I was always happy if scouts could successfully prepare, setup, run the event / camp out, cleanup, re-pack and do post-event cleanup.  Full 100% budget responsibility would be great, but not within nornal scope.  

 

 

Edited by fred8033

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8 hours ago, Treflienne said:

Good.  So I am not crazy to want the scouts involved in the process, and not to want the committee to set a budget and decide spending with no scout input.   (I am still rather uncertain about how many non-BSA ideas I am bringing along from my girl scout background.)

@qwazse, thanks.

The rest of you:  any more suggestions for best practises as to how to involved scouts in the process?

 

I'd encourage you to think as big as you can.  There's really no set rule for things like scout involvement in the budget process.  If you can define a way for the Scouts to be involved in that process, then go for it.  Define the kind of involvement you wants the Scouts to have in running the troop, get the adults on board with that vision, and then have at it. 

I would encourage you though to define terms like "budget".  I was a Troop Committee Chair for a number of years.  To me, a budget is set at the level of "$1,000 for new equipment purchases, $3,000 for national dues, we want to maintain a funding reserve equal to 1 years expenses, etc."  For a budget, I wanted to plan to and track to the level of "are we going to have enough money this year to fund troop operations?  Are we running in the red or in the black?"  So, to me, I'd have welcomed Scouts to that discussion, but it would have been a little abstract I think.  90% of the troop adults found it to abstract too.

Now, when Scouts planned trips and events, absolutely they decided the costs and fees.  But, to me that's not having Scouts involved in the budget process - that's just Scouts doing trip planning.  Same would go for equipment purchases, meeting expenses, etc...

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