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Looking at the BSA from the outside.

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When I brought up the cost of Scouting, I wasn't so much much thinking of the cost for the individual.

If my math is right? It costs the Council about $220 per youth member.

We can argue about how this is spent, if it is worth it or not. But at the end of the day that is the cost.

Back when I was a Leader once a year we send ten pound to National and moaned and groaned about that.


Almost everyone I have met who is a Scouter from outside of the BSA is very impressed about the resources that are available to and for American Scouters.

Back home when I needed a badge for a Scout I waited until 1900 on a Tuesday night and got on a bus to visit the Badge Secretary, a volunteer. If I wasn't there by 2100, he'd have packed up shop and gone home. The idea of just going to the local Council Service Center being waited on by the nice Lady in the nice warm building, looking in to see what the DE,the SE and the Program Director is nice. But that service comes at a cost. The volunteer Badge Secretary worked for free.

Each year the Council employs a staff of about 60 for Summer Camp Staff. The camp site is less than 30 minutes from where I live. I have very strong emotional ties to the camp. It's where I met HWMBO and is the reason why I ended up here in the USA (And have done more than OK thank you!)

The fee charged for summer camp really doesn't cover the real cost of the camp. It doesn't take into account the depreciations of equipment needed for the camp and the real cost of maintaining the camp.

For nearly all the Troops in the Council, summer camp at the council camp is the program offered for each and every summer.

Sad to say that after about 3 years the Lad who has gone to this camp, feels that he has "Done that, been there and has a wardrobe full of t-shirts" He is no longer challenged by what is offered.


A good pal of mine served on the Scout Association Committee Of The Council back in the UK. This is a fairly small committee that is the governing body for English Scouting (Pint, - It's Martin.) I have no idea how the BSA ever gets anything done with so many people serving on so many different committees that make up the BSA National Council. I have a good friend from the Council I serve who sat on the Relationships Committee for many years and from what he has said nothing ever gets done in a hurry.



I of course don't have a crystal ball, so I can't tell what the future holds.

But having served on the Area Committee, which served 13 (Now 11) near by Councils. I kinda think that the days of the small Council are numbered. Here in SW-PA we tend to have a good many small Councils. Many in rural areas. Over the past few years the membership in these small Councils has been on the decline, so has the amount of money that they have been able to raise.

Four or five years back our local United Way decided that they were no longer going to give money to organizations that had a endowment fund.

We had such a fund. They "De-funded" us over 3 years. The $90,000 went down by $30,000 a year.

Of course the Executive Board said that we would look at new fund raising events and ideas. So far nothing has happened and the buck seems to have fallen back on the volunteers with more and more requests for FOS and a bigger push to sell popcorn.

At the same time membership has gone down so here is less people to donate and less kids selling the popcorn.

In the Area (Councils that fall under the Area Committee) There are Council Camps that are running summer camps with less than 400 campers per summer. The only way they remain open is by having volunteers who have other positions also work as unpaid camp staff members. This works as a short term fix, but will not work as large items that a camp needs to operate wear out and need replaced.

For the most part the salaries that are paid to our professionals are set not by the people in the Councils that these professionals serve, but by a set scale.

Again we can argue if these people are under paid or over paid and if they really do or do not earn what they are paid. We however are stuck paying them, until such a time as we can no longer afford to pay them. When this happens?? Camps are sold and services are cut or Councils have to merge. Which again normally results is camp sites being sold and less local services being available to the volunteers.

There is or seems to be a push to recruit more of the less fortunate youth into our programs. A push I fully support. My hope is that the big Metro Councils will be able to raise the extra cash that is needed to support the units and kids that we bring in.

Still here is rural PA we have a big problem.

The small local businesses that have in the past supported local Councils are going out of business, being replaced by the bigger multi-national stores and businesses. Who have a very strict policy about who they will and will not support.

Here in my small town our local bank went from being a family owned bank which was well known for supporting the community to becoming part of a State wide Bank and is now part of a bank based in New York.

I'm not sure why? But in the area where I live we seem to have a lot of churches. Most are very pro-Scouting, but when I have visited them on a Sunday there doesn't seem to be that many people in the pews and the people there are elderly.

Even the church I attend, the local R/C is seeing a big decline in attendance and money in the plate. In fact the priest has just send out a letter asking for extra cash in order to heat the church.

The likelihood of there being any extra cash for the Scout Troop that the church charters is about zero. Already the parishioners are being asked to dig a little deeper to help the school, the cemetery, the organ and a lot of other things. Selling them a box of $30.00 popcorn is a real hard sell.

Back when I was in the UK Scouting seemed a lot more local.

If the local Scout Troop needed funds it had a Jumble Sale (Yard sale) the people in the community donated the stuff they didn't need and then came out and bought more stuff which they more than lightly would never need.

This money was used by the local Troop to support the program that the kids in the area were part of, with none of it going to anyone else.

There was never any requests to donate to the District, County or National or any such thing as a popcorn sale..


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Philmont is the diamond, but there are a number of others as well, and looks to be another good possibility coming on line. Besides that, there are probably at least a couple of dozen exceptional camps belonging to councils that have extremely good programs, like Emerald Bay on Catalina, a couple in the north Great Basin area and Rockies, and from what I have read some in the Great Lakes and northeast mountains. So we are blessed, even with the sell offs of some camps and council issues.


Room for growth, and a new century to work at it. Meanwhile, find ways to keep the "outing" in the program, and focus on the local level.

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"When I brought up the cost of Scouting, I wasn't so much much thinking of the cost for the individual.

If my math is right? It costs the Council about $220 per youth member."


Eamon -


This amount varies greatly by Council. The figure for our Council, a fairly large one, is $145 per Scout. That is the figure that they base their FOS individual requests on.


Just putting that information out there so that our international brothers can see that there is a wide range in the cost of Scouting in the BSA.

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I was kinda very jealous of you and your fellow countrymen today.

Here in SW-PA it was bitter cold, with a nasty wind and more of that white stuff.

Even Ollie my English setter who normally will walk and stay out for hours couldn't wait to get back into the house today!

Dudley the Goldie pup, was having a great time playing in the snow. - He is just too young to know any better. Must be great to be young!

Kinda looks like it's going to remain like this for the next week or so!

I hate the cold.



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Yeah, been a bit warmer than that here, sometimes recently. I'm near Melbourne where we get a lot of variety. Last week we had a day of 101 degrees F. (We use C here. It was 38.) But this morning when I got up it was 12 C, or 54 degrees F. I actually prefer the cool weather. Like to go skiing in winter. But it's never as cold here as I found in the US two years ago. (I did choose cold places!)

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Right now in Kansas City, it's 8 degrees F, and it's the middle of the day and sunny. Tonight the forecast is for -3 F.

Totally off topic. But, I suppose if your going to look at the BSA "from the outside" around here you'd best be wearing your hat and mittens. :p



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Another off topic weather related post: Were curretnly in the midst of a 'big freeze' in the UK, and in my location its -2C or 28F nad theres a weather warning out for severe snow and ice and we could see just over an inch of snow ( 2.5 cm )

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On Feb 7th last year the temperature in Melbourne reached 46.4 degrees C or 115.5 degrees F. Not nice.


Back to BSA..... Reflecting on all this, I think the most obvious thing that's special about BSA is the Chartering Organization thing, which allows other bodies to dictate policies to Scouting. Scouts attached to a church is very much a rarity. Nobody tells Scouts Australia what to do. The inevitable conservatism that comes from most of the COs being churches leads to the other major differences - no atheists, gays or girls.

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In Australia there is no such thing as charters or charter organisations. (I'm assuming they're related. We don't use those words.) The community creates the Scout Group independent of any other organization except Scout administration.


An example - My Scout Group is about to celebrate it's 50th birthday. Trying to put together a history. We unearthed the minutes of the first committee meeting from 1960. It was a gathering of adults who wanted the town to have Scouts. It was held in someone's lounge room. Some volunteered to be leaders. Some to continue on committee, which has the fund raising role Someone donated land for a hall. For the first 10 years they used a community hall, then moved into their own, which had been built by volunteer labor, no doubt with lots of materials donated. No connection with a church or any other body outside Scouting.


It still happens pretty much that way for new Groups now.


There have been Scout Groups set up by churches. But always a minority. Now a very tiny minority.


Leaders used to have warrants. Now we have a Certificate of Youth Leadership. That is issued after all the usual youth protection and other checks, plus some formal training. That training is provided within Scouting, but is accredited at a national level as a proper certification, officially recognised outside Scouting. Apart from the obvious Scouting emphasis in ours, it is of equal value to similar training gained at a college outside Scouting. That has been a very positive step.


Part of a leader's initial assessment, and every three years after that, is review by District Personnel Committee, again volunteers at one level up from the local Group who monitor suitability and progress with training.

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