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Scout troops in low income areas

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Hello fellow scouts and adult leaders,

I just started working with are local troop here and the scoutmaster wants me to take over his place as SM in about 8 months. Hes getting up in age and trying to be active in scouts and work full time, needless to say its getting to him. Anyways we have 6 scouts in our troop. I know its small but it can be so much more. There is trillions of adventures just waiting to be discovered in are state. My wife before we was married started a cub pack which was very sucessful and a venturing crew. Her crew went to seabase in florida and had alot of fun adventures.


My scouting experence is, When i was younger i made it to life scout and was close to eagle but my parents didnt have the time or money to keep me in and i gave it up. Regreted it every since.


So thats my history now to my question. Does anyone here know of any programs or community services that will assist new scouts in affording dues and uniforms? Its a same that the boys have to miss out on the wonders and joys in that the scouting program offers just because thier family is stretched for money and cany afford it. Any suggestions would be helpful.


Thank you for you time and reply.

William(This message has been edited by william862)

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Welcome to the campfire and congratulations for the adventures you and your scouts are about to have.


One thing that you might do is to find a troop in your area that you can 'brother' up with for assistance with gear and support. The troop that I serve has let our local scout office know that if there is a local troop in need that we can possibly be of assistance, to let us know and the troop would try to do the 'helpful' thing.


As far as funding, our biggest fundraiser is selling hotdogs, hamburgers and HyVee coupon books over the Labor and Memorial day weekends at Lowes. Profit made is divided into each scouts troop account depending on the hours they worked. Covers a lot of their expenses.


Good luck and happy scouting



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The popcorn fundraiser would be helpful in assisting the boys. Some troops allow for boys to have personal accounts from which they can draw funds to pay for trips, etc., but one has to be careful of this practice so as to not be laundring money.


I would suggest that if the troop wishes to invest in uniforms because they are in an area of low income, they could use troop funds to purchase cheap uniforms off of E-Bay, or have them donated by older scouts so that for maybe 10-cents a year they can rent one to use. This way it also assists in the boys who are growing out of their uniforms and having to buy new all the time.


When I suggested the troop be a fully uniformed troop, I made available uniforms for rock-bottom prices and buy and resell at my cost back to the boys. I target $15/pants, $10 shirts, $5 for belts. The only other cost is patches.


There are a number of ways the troop and the boys can be Thrifty. Be creative, be vigilant and if the boys get out and hussle their popcorn sales and other fundraisers, there is no reason why Scouting can't be very inexpensive for the boys, if not free.


I know of one boy in my former troop that raised enough money to completely pay for his Sea Base trip by selling in a rural area. The urban boys didn't do as much even with less travel time between homes.


If you have 6 boys, that means 4 tents for a camp out. Target the cost, put up a chart and have the boys go at it. Make a game of it. Let them pick out the tents so they have an ownership in the process. Then work on cook gear, fly, etc. Keep a uniform closet on the side and be diligent in getting the boys out into the field. Keep food costs low, and buy good stuff. Don't have the boys spending extra for individually wrapped food items, shop the bargains and teach your boys that just because they don't have a lot of money, they can't still have fun. Plan day hikes with a lunch packed from home. Nice outing, no cost! Do bike hikes with a lunch packed. Nice outing, no cost! Do a service project for the community, pack a lunch, no cost! (nice visibility when those same uniforms that were cleaning the park show up selling popcorn a few weeks later.) Do food drives for the community (low income area) and have the boys out there being visible. You'd be surprised how much the community notices such things and appreciates it and will do what they can to assist in making sure the boys have the opportunity to continue.


Welcome to the forum.



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Some random thoughts to add to the other good advice you have seen here,


2nd hand shops often times will have some scout uniforms at very reasonable prices.


Start a "uniform box" at your troop in which scouts who have out grown there uniform bring it in for others boys (which has worked really well at our troop)


Sometimes other organizations would be willing to help (Rotary, Masons, Knights of Columbus just to name a few)"sponsor" a uniform. At other times these organizations will help you put on events like pancake breakfasts or spaghetti dinners.


But also other troops in your area might have extra equipment they can spare. I know in my area one "new" troop got a ton of equipment from a troop that folded a few years before in another town.

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You need to do fundraising instead of looking for handouts, else these Scouts will remain as poor as their parents when they get older.

Having said that, contact each troop in your council and ask for the donation of no longer needed uniforms. Alternatively, your new Scouts can use a Scout tee-shirt until they earn Tenderfoot. At the Court of Honor they can be presented with a uniform shirt and its patches -- paid for out of troop funds -- as part of the honor. Earning Second gets the trousers.

Your wife sounds like an excellent resource for fundraising

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You need to do fundraising instead of looking for handouts, else these Scouts will remain as poor as their parents when they get older.


Yah, or maybe they'll actually learn that they have a chance of goin' to college, because there are generous people and schools out there who provide scholarships for good kids in need. And maybe in turn they'll learn to be generous with charity solicitations like Friends of Scouting. :)


Are yeh a ScoutReach unit or do yeh have a Chartered Org. sponsor? If the latter, I would have a conversation with your sponsor about helpin' with boys in financial need.




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Welcome to the forum.

Some people, maybe not you?

Seem to think that there are lots of people and organizations out there waiting to hand over money to local packs and Troops

Sadly this is rarely if ever the case.

If there is a "Food Chain"??

Big corporations work with the BSA (National) Or they have so many rules to donate for special or specific reasons that Scouting units never seem to qualify.

Some will work with local charities that have qualified with the IRS.

Next comes the Council.

Councils take a very dim view on units who solicit money from local businesses. This takes away from the community FOS campaign.

The feeling is that when Councils get the cash everyone shares in the wealth.

Next is the Chartering Organization.

Some CO's are great they have been known to help the units that the charter. Some don't seem to know or care what goes on and some are hard to work with.

I was CM for a Pack that was chartered by the R/C Church I attend. They have a school and it seems that fund raising for the school in non-stop and ever ending. The church wasn't able to do much for the Scout units and other than allowing the odd bake sale wasn't really behind any efforts to help with fund raising events that the Scout units did.

Some units have became registered charities. But the paper work and costs involved are a real burden.

However all is not lost!

No one can prevent anyone doing what they want with their own hard earned money. (As long as what they are doing isn't illegal!) They is always a chance that someone in your community might have a soft spot for the Troop.

This happened when the Troop in our church was restarted. The family of a guy who had earned Eagle in the Troop years back and has passed away gave the Troop $5,000.00 start up money. When another local person who lost a daughter in the Lockerbie Bombing found out that the Troop was restarting he also gave a large sum of money.

When the DE found out she tried sniffing around but these people made it clear that they only wanted to support that Troop.

Many times the employer's of parents of Scouts in the Troop are willing to help the kids of their workers.

Back when I had a couple of restaurants, I gave away so many gift certificates to local Troops which they could then sell.

We used to have a big Sony plant near us, they couldn't donate money, but were willing to donate a few TV's to the CO. The CO was willing to use them for a fund raiser and donate the money raised to the Troop.

One family who lives in a small town in the District pays for all the rechartering fees for all the units in that town.

But for the most part the hard truth is that you are on your own.

Working with the Troop Committee you need to come up with a budget that works.

For a few years this might mean that some of the things that you might have in mind might have to be put on hold.

I could list the things that I think I might want to have on top of my list, but I'm not you and I'm not in your area working with your Scouts.

Much the same can be said about fund raisers.

Some people have no problem selling tons and tons of popcorn, but I don't know if people in low income areas are willing to spend that sort of money?

I've seen different Troops do well with different things, while others have tried the same thing and it just hasn't worked.

In time you will find what works and what doesn't for the Troop you serve.

The big thing is that you should never be afraid to ask.

When I was District Chairman, I made it known that no kid in the District would ever not go to summer camp because he couldn't afford it. I know enough people who if asked will write a check for a couple of hundred bucks.

When I was CM we had kids that couldn't afford uniforms, when my wife mentioned this to her co-workers there was never a shortage of Cub Scout shirts.

Councils have lots of equipment that is only ever used for summer camp. A word with to the District and Council camping chairs can result in some friendly arm twisting.


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You might consider asking your DE or Council if they would give you the leftover popcorn from their sale. You could then take it to a Walmart or other big store and do a sale- if you got the popcorn for free- they can't do much with it after the sale, you could make quite a bit.

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Giving is always a bad thing.


Our DE imparted a story to me.


There was a very poor intercity Pack. The CM complained that they could not pay to recharter or register the boys. The DE found a benefactor to pick up the expense. That spring at the Cuboree the Pack showed up and the CM thanked the DE for the assist. While they were talking the DE noticed that Boys were spending a lot of money at the Trading Post. A couple of the young men were buying candy bars and soda's with fifty dollar bills. Every boy spent money, a lot of money in the trading post.


The Point, the boys need to earn it and not have it just given too them.


I am also in a poor intercity Pack. We collect 50cent dues and apply that toward recharter. That way recharter only cost $5.00 a head or so.


Also be mindful of feeding them at the meeting. Initially we had a couple of boys that didn't eat dinner before they showed up. So I would bring some peanut butter, cool aid and chips. Pretty soon their brothers and sisters were showing up to eat, then their parents. They demanded to be fed. Never again.


My point is the inner city has bred a system of entitlement. These boys expect you to pay their way, pay their dues and feed them. Their parents or grandparents also expect you to do it.


Yet another first hand account. We met at the CO for a day hike. The boys and several adults showed up in Tennis shoes, no water bottle or lunch. On top of it they hadn't even ate breakfast. Of course they didn't have any money. So I bought Lunch meat, bread water bottles and breakfast.


Day events quickly started costing me $50-100 out of pocket. Started thinking, then I realized that I was spending all of my discretionary income for these boys.


Never a thanks. Because we owe it to them.


I gave up. we moved on to another group were my son can have his own scouting experience with out the struggle.



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I'm not looking for frees or handouts. But that in its self brings up a whole lot of questions about scouting in my mind. This is about the boys. It might not be that way all over but with my troop its about the boys. If i could pay for every single boy now and future i would but i just dont have the money for that. This is a very low income part of the world and as such parents don't have the money to spend on stuff like $150.00 uniforms plus all the camp out and such. I know there is programs out there to help low income kids with boyscouts,girlscouts ect. but i cant seem to get any info. As such i read a story on the bsa national council site. I'd like to post it here and then someone please explain how this could be done without breaking the rule of a service being rendered for money. and that we as scouts cannot ask for donations.





Edmond Scout's honored for raising over $8,000 in donations


Published: October 10, 2009


EDMOND - Michael Schmidt's great adventure began nearly two years ago.



The Edmond 10-year-old was a Cub Scout in November 2007 when he chose to take up a challenge from his church pastor.




After a sermon about stewardship from the Rev. Bryan Eckelmann at Westminster Presbyterian Church of Oklahoma City, Schmidt volunteered to be one of 16 people entrusted with $100 to make a difference in other people's lives.


Schmidt said, "My pastor asked, 'does anyone want to go on an adventure with God? So I raised my hand."


The pastor first had to lay out the three conditions they had to be willing to accept.


"They must understand it is not their money but it is God's money, He's entrusting the money to them. They were to leverage the money, invest it in a way to leverage God's work in the world," Eckelmann said.


But what to do with the money was not an easy decision for Schmidt. "At first Michael wanted to spend it, then he didn't know what to do with it," his mother, Teri, said.


"Michael is one of these young boys that just loves scouting. We talked about it a little bit and figured out it took about $150 to fully outfit a boy with Boys Life registration, a handbook and a uniform from cap to socks," she said.


So Schmidt decided to invest the $100 in sending letters to family and friends for donations, to buy these things for less fortunate boys.


So far, his $100 investment has turned into $8,000 in donations and has supported more than 100 individuals.


Because of his achievement, Schmidt was honored with the Boy Scouts James E. West award and received a commemorative coin sent to Scouts who have performed extraordinary acts of service.


Schmidt also was featured in the July 2009 issue of Boys Life, and he is pictured on this year's boxes of Boy Scouts Butter Light Popcorn.


Now Schmidt has earned a nickname from his friends at Crossings Christian School. "They call me popcorn boy.".


Eckelmann said he tried to encourage the people who took the $100 to realize the most precious thing about the experiment wasn't the money but was the development of a person's character.


"I am hoping that Michael learned, and the adults that have watched him are learning, that it is not just $100 from the preacher's pocket but it's everything that any single one of us has been entrusted with by God that counts," Eckelmann said.





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Looking at the cost of equipping a Scout, the uniform isn't the biggest expense. Proper outdoor clothes, footwear, meals, a sleeping system, backpack, compass, pocketknife, rope, water bottles, handbook ...


In my opinion - and there are many who will disagree - uniforms shouldn't be the first thing that a new Scout purchases. Gear should be - gear that is of proper quality, is appropriate for the conditions and climate and will last a while. That will take some guidance and coaching from the leaders - but it'll pay off bigtime when the Scouts get outside and doing stuff.


If the troop's members genuinely can't afford uniforms, there's nothing that says you can't be a shirts-only troop for a while, or even a t-shirt troop, until you have a couple fundraisers and the boys save up enough money.


And if they genuinely can't afford gear, dig out some old books and make your own! If bedrolls and packboards were good enough back in the day, they're good enough now.

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"please explain how this could be done without breaking the rule of a service being rendered for money."


No such rule. A troop with no money will by necessity do a lot of money-earning events. A carwash works. Boy Scouts earn their own way.

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Trying really hard not to come off as argumenitive so forgive me if my posts seemed that way. I was under the understanding that a boy scout can not ask for donations to thier troop. Last poster pointed me out that there was no such rule. Ok. Heres my idea of what i would like to do. Its a very small troop 6 boys the current SM whom i will be take over his job in 8 months due to his retirment has a shirt only dress code. After talking to the boys they seem to want to go full scout uniform.


We can fund raise but fund raisers here really only cover thier summer camp. High adventure is a dream to us like sea base or PM. We really hope to get to the point where we can enjoy them trips at lower cost then we was quoted back in may of 2 years ago. Parents around here send thier boys to scouting but dont seem to want everything paid for the boys.


I honestly do not want the boys to pay for there parents inability or unwillingness to pay thier ways. It is not the boys fault. But honestly if it cant be done i will accept that and continue to pay out of my pocket to help them.


Last year I paid about 900 dollars to help boys go to summer camp because I didnt want them left out. This year with the last remaining factory in are area acting like they are going to close down, parents are even tighter this year then in the past.


So my idea was if there was a organization for childern out there that has helped scout troops out before then maybe i could take some of the stress off of my self and the parents who really do need help paying for this and believes in the scouting program.


I know alot of people will disagree with this but without scouting most of these kids are out on the roads everynight drinking and on drugs out of sure bordom. There is nothing in are town for young people to do and there is so much scouting and venturing will alow then to do if thier parents could just pay for the costs of it. Im not trying to change the world, just give these kids a fighting chance at life. Thats all.(This message has been edited by william862)

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