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Started the process with a high of 16 'definates'. After all the "I changed my mind's" came back we went with 10 after dipping below the minimum of 7 at one point.


Yah, I was struck by this, right after da other thread on priority venting.


Is this really becoming commonplace? More than half of da lads quit a trip after having committed to it? I seem to hear about it more and more these days. That can create all kinds of chaos for outfitters and high adventure bases. It means other kids or units who might have been able to go can't. It can mean higher fees than what was planned for those who do go.


Same deal for shorter trips too, of course.


How are your units handlin' this kind of behavior by kids/families? Are yeh demanding full, non-refundable payment up front? Anybody adopting a one-strike policy (fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice shame on us) so that they become ineligible for future trips?


I'm not talkin' the lad who is in the hospital or whose mom has cancer, eh? We all would flex for that kind of true emergency. Those things are rare. Certainly more rare than half of the kids bailing out.




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We have not had a significant problem with cancellations. When they do happen we operate on the concept of sunk costs. Participant fees are collected in a timely manner and paid. Adults and Scouts canceling receive refunds only to the extent they are made to the troop. If there are flat fees portioned out among the participants the canceling party is only refunded monies to the extent they do not make others pay more. This is made clear up front every time.


This is applied down to a Scout's share for the patrol food. So far we've had no complaints.

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Thanks EV.


Just to be clear, I'm not talkin' only about expenses. Anyone who's run a lot of trips knows there are a lot of other things that go on. Yeh allocate adult leaders based on da size of the crew (recruiting people to take off work so as to keep a good adult:youth ratio). There are group discounts for everything from airfare to outfitter fees to food in bulk that depend on the number of participants. Yeh have to plan for specialty gear purchases in some cases. Safety planning depends on group size and ability. And, most importantly, yeh took a place for another kid that might have gone when the outfitter reserved that space for that number, eh?




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For all but HA trips we pay as we go - you sign up and pay and then you either go or lose the money.


For HA trips we have a little more flex but there are so many more things in play;

e.g.: 1) Johny's dad is driving us to Philmont - Johny fails and is going to summer school, is Johny's dad still driving?


2) Billy's dad is our rock Climbing specialist - owns and operates Climbing gyms - Billy can't go - Is billy's dad still going and running that portion of the event AND/OR still providing the protective gear or do we have to go find a new Expert and equipment?


3) Outfitter gave us a 30% discount for the size of the crew, fall outs leave us down 15% for our reservation outfitter doesn't offer any discount at that number of passengers, cost goes up $50 per Scout and Adult.


etc. etc.


We try really hard to beat the money end for HA trips by having an Interest sign up with deposit date, a back out date with additional funds after which you paid; you either go or lose it and a "lost" date with final funding, unless perhaps something actually catastrophic occurs - the hamster dying isn't going to get it back....



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Good points I missed in the first read. I've not yet had a trained and competent youth or adult leader pull out of a high adventure trip raising safety issues. If that were to happen I guess my first response would be, "So who's your replacement?" putting the onus on the person backing out. Not quite Lyndon Johnson's version of moral suasion but I would not be bashful about asking it in front of an audience.


As for filling a slot to get to a minimum number it comes down to marketing both in the troop and Scouts/Scouters outside the troop.




Eric Augustine

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We insist on the money up front with no refunds. Just make sure you state that policy up front, especially to new members. For High Adventure trips, a substantial deposit must be turned in, with again, no refunds. Unfortunately, you have to run things like a business or you will get taken advantage of.


We have an end of the year picnic, which the troop used to pay for. We were getting 100 people sign up in advance, but then 40 people show up. Since then we now charge $2.00 a head, something everyone can afford, and have very few no shows.


Money talks........



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I know this is going to sound silly!

But it seems with a good many of our male 17 + Sea Scouts that they want to go not with what has been planned and worked on, but with the last offer they receive!

We don't have this problem with the female Scouts.

We have tried a no refund policy, which the QD does at times put on some trips.


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This is why I really don't care if our troop ever does a HA trip again. Want to go to Philmont? Great! The council sends several contingent crews ever year.


Two years ago the crew almost fell apart three times. The shame of it was that when one kid dropped out and the crew size fell below the minimum, the kids who still wanted to go were placed in jeopardy of not going AND losing all their money.


This year we implemented a policy that NO money is refundable until after the crew returns home from the trip. Then, any money remaining will be divided among the dropouts pro rated on what they paid in. That gives us the ability to spend YOUR money to help pay the way of your replacement. Our Number One priority is to preserve the crew. Getting you a refund is secondary.


From da Beav's point of view of looking at this from a more principled perspective, I don't have a huge problem with drop outs on HA trips. I look at it as a escalating commitment. Philmont requires such a long lead time, it's tough for folks to anticipate things 18 months out. Peoples' lives change. I've had kids gun-ho for Philmont in October a year out who have dropped out of the troop two summers later.


I have more of a problem with boys who blow off weekend campouts because they're calling for rain or because their running buds want to go to the movie Saturday night.

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Significant deposit up front. This makes the commitment really mean something to them personally because they have invested in it.

This also goes to my view that the program would be strengthened if everyone paid the full freight in the form of fees, rather than going begging through sale of popcorn or FOS. It is the best way to demonstrate the value of the program through a market-based approach. And when someone pays full price, they are much less likely to treat their commitment as a frivolous matter.

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There's always peer pressure...


Our current leadership team is really into activity participation and not only sets the example by attending themselves, but also by having a very high expectation that all other Scouts will attend as well. And we have seen excellent (95%) attendance recently.


Very different from a few years ago when the leadership team planned all kinds fun activities but then didn't end up going because they were so involved in other things - sports, band, girls, etc. And the rest of the Troop followed suit, with 25%-75% attendance on activities.


We also have a general no refund policy, which does make Scouts & parents stop and think before committing.

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for our "normal" camping trips there is event cost and food cost... when they sign up they pay both - if they happen to cancel before their shopper does the shopping then the food budget is adjusted and they get the food cost part back.


for our "HA" trips we have yet to have a problem with it. we go every other year unless the troop has put in for philmont and doesn't get selected and they don't get another option picked... but we normally have at least 1 extra adult that is "back up" and the boys have never backed out of a HA trip, but then they spend over a year fundraising, training, and paying that it would have to be something major for them to miss out.


we also are lucky to have some dedicated adults... we had 1 campout where 1 dad went while his son couldn't come because of illness and my own son had to leave the first morning because of illness and I had his dad come get him. I even went on a trip right after returning from a Girl Scout trip where my back went out because I was the only available adult that was CPR certified. We've had other things like this that come about, and the adults involved in our troop are always stepping up when needed - never cancelled a thing due to lack of adults.

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I realize it's old fashioned and rather out-of-vogue, but one does have to take into consideration a scout's word of honor. It might have a passing note in the Scout Oath, but coupled with the old fashioned custom of shaking hands, a person's word once meant something. In today's world I don't know if it's as important or if it's even being taught as important.


If a scout says he'll be there, I kinda take him at his word (Scout Oath) and trust he'll come through (Scout Law). If I as leader expect anything less, I don't know if I am upholding my commitment to the Oath and Law.


I would much rather have a boy say no, he can't go and then change his mind and work things out to come rather than say he is coming and then leave his buddies holding the bag on expenses and program.


It's a discussion area when reviewing Scout Spirit during SM conferences.



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We have not had a problem until this year. We had 4 crews to SeaBase set up. Commitments were there as well as a non-refundable $100 starting August of last year. We had to scrub 2 crews with one barely hanging on for dear life. We had dad/son cancellation as late as 3 weeks ago with the reason of financial difficulty. They, however, forego the moneys that they paid. (It wasn't a financial difficulty, but that's another story for another day). This put our third crew endanger of being scrubbed off ... and everyone loses his moneys. We don't have a two or three strikes rule because it has been pretty good until this year.


As for weekend campouts, we have had good participation in terms of commitments; however, what chaps my hides is the two or three scouts who sign up and decide at the last minute to come on Saturday. That throws the tent-mate situation out of whack! That frustrates me. I am about to ask that if they cannot come and leave with the troop, then we'll see 'em next campout. It's a little bit harsh, but it is not fair to the rest of the patrol.



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I tend to agree with Stosh.


That said, during the current Depression, I've known families whose circumstances changed from six digit incomes and plenty of opportunities for the children to unemployed, and tapping the retirement funds for costs of life.


Jamboree and NOAC are both incredibly expensive. They're not Scout Camp. I think most kids could earn their fees to Scout Camp. Most kids are going to need the better part of 2-3 years of summer jobs to get to go to one of these, and they may still need parental assistance.


HA bases, in and of themselves, are pricey, but not outrageous. Depending on distance from the home to the HA base, though, that meter can run quickly.


Here's my personal breakpoint: If, as I've actually known locally, Mom and Dad are taking childrens' earnings for basic family income in these tough times, then if the Scout has to back out of the commitment, the unit/chartered partner either needs to accept it with grace, or find a way to help. OTOH, if the Scout simply changes his mind, then its a forfeit...


My $0.01 (adjusted for coming inflation)

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