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MattR

Scouts on the cheap - what scouting is really about

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@MattR, your thoughts are timely.  We need this dialogue more than ever.

I watched the general session of the National Annual Meeting today.  Right off the bat, three pros talked at length (about 15 - 20 minutes) about big dollar fundraising.  National is launching a new program to help councils raise money.  They made other points, but the upshot was definitely "the show must go on."  And by "show" I mean "keep those dollars rolling in." 

Overall, the general session had this one stark theme:  the virtual absence of any discussion about the challenges families and units are going through.  It was a completely inward-look/ivory-palace session.  At the end, Roger Mosby expressed his thanks to unit level leaders.  And sure, there was some breathless enthusiasm about badge earning via Zoom and camping in the backyard, but that was more of a victory lap for the pros.  Unless I missed it, only Roger addressed the unit leaders directly.

If those deep corporate pockets are out there and ready to donate, great.  But on a family and neighborhood level, the dollars are going to be far fewer from this point forward.  I understand National and councils have started to tighten the belt, but the financial pain has only just begun.

Edited by desertrat77
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My troop growing up did the bare bones type of camping. We went out every month, except December, and costs were in the $5 - $10 to cover food and supplies. We didn't do camporees, or any fancy dancy camps.  We went to summer camp, and while we did do MB classes, it was nothing like today's camps. While 6 day sessions were offered, the last 2 period of the day were free swim, free boating, and free shooting sports. Unless a MB you wanted was only offered  in 5th or 6th,  you were out having fun. Night classes were special 1 nite event like CPR certification, First Aid certification,. and Hunter safety. Obviously Astronomy we every night.

And we had fun.

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There is a sense that bigger is worse. Growing up, our default camping locations:

  • Adjacent a water dam (no swimming, just hiking and fishing)
  • Lakes on conservancy land (again no swimming)
  • The trail that cut across our county.
  • The back of a farm
  • The county fair grounds (our campsite actually was an "exhibit" for the Bicentennial)
  • Town/township parks
  • A church camp that needed a trail built during the off-season
  • The county airport (SM put a gnarly orienteering course there)
  • The nearest summer camp ... we'd do Klondike there in the winter

We had so many low-budget options that state park rangers would have to ask us to camp in their primitive sites.

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Even high adventure can be done at a lower cost when not through BSA (which I think uses it as a profit center).  When we go to BWCA we never go through Northern Tier (too expensive).

The good news is that our insurance rates should drop a ton after bankruptcy.  With no assets left, the lawyers would have nothing to sue to obtain.  Will we see fees drop back down with the reduction in insurance costs?

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5 hours ago, Eagle1993 said:

Even high adventure can be done at a lower cost when not through BSA

We used to do 2 a year and one of them had to be on the cheap. Those were fun. Of course, it helps when someone in the troop is a river rat and has friends with rafts. Several people have told me Northern Tier is much more expensive than the local outfitters. Same lakes.

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1 hour ago, MattR said:

Several people have told me Northern Tier is much more expensive than the local outfitters. Same lakes.

100% True … plus, we put 2 per canoe and I've been told Northern Tier is 3 per canoe.  We just go with local outfitters.

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Agree that the key is local program and local fun and adventure.

Out troop is from what would be considered an upper income community, but we still keep it simple.  $100 per year for dues and registration.  We do no fundraisers.  We charge a nominal fee for outings ($10 -15) and camp 12 times per year.  Couple of summer camps, Scouts pay for those, and attempt to make it straightforward.  The troop does service projects and we do attend high adventure.

Key is to let the Scouts spend time with friends, have fun, hand out in hammocks.

With summer camp issues we are running our own camp and "shocked face" our cost is less than 1/2 the council camp

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