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Do (or should) scouts really pay their own way?

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The SE can do his thing with the FOS campaign, but that has zip to do with our boys earning money to pay their weekly dues and camp fees.


Yah, seemed like this was a good thread to spin off to stop da hijack of the previous thread.


I've seen some versions of "a Scout is Thrifty" over da years that made this notion of "a scout pays his own way" into a big deal, eh? Seems to depend a bit on da COs and adults involved; there's a stronger history of this value in some Protestant traditions than others, and yeh don't see it nearly as strong in other faiths.


I've never been able to figure it. From da weekend campout at the BSA camp or state park to the Philmont Trek to da lights in the local meeting hall, scouts never really pay their own way. They're subsidized constantly by FOS donations, out of pocket expenses by adult leaders, and the generosity of da adult leaders time. Even when the lads are fundraising, we all know that they're rarely providing real value. From overpriced popcorn to first aid kit sales, folks are really paying to support Scouting, not because they really need or want da stuff that much.


Then yeh add to it that by and large, parents pay their scouts bills, eh? They buy the rain gear and the backpacks. They shell out for Jambo and Philmont and dues. Directly, or indirectly buy buying a bunch of popcorn themselves.


So I can't help but think this scout pays his own way thing is anything but a myth.


I'm also not convinced it's a good lesson for the lads. We want these future corporate leaders and future parents to know that it's their duty when they reach those points to provide opportunities for others, especially young folks. Nothing teaches that better than knowing that great experience yeh had on top of Baldy was because of da deep generosity of a businessman who cared about kids. So creating da fiction that a boy is paying his own way works against our goals.


To me, school is valuable. I support schools with my tax dollars and with my contributions to my alma mater. Kids in school therefore never pay their own way. To me scouting is valuable. I support scouting with my contributions, so that kids can experience scouting without having to pay the full cost... Or any cost, if that's what it takes.


I just don't see anything wrong with that. Yah, yah, it's good to have the lads do some service and some fundraising, to help their fellows in need, to learn some work ethic, some salesmanship, and to give 'em direct experience with the generosity of their community. There's some good educational reasons for the boys to do some labor. But that's it, eh? Educational reasons. It just ain't practical for most boys to pay for either their K-12 education or their trip to Fort AP Hill. Providing those opportunities to the young is the duty of the old. And the young should learn that.


My two cents, anyways. What are yours? Do any of yeh really have the lads pay da full cost of things? Any councils really expect the boys to earn the full $1.5 - $3K for Jambo fees? Does everyone turn down the person who doesn't want any cheese popcorn but wants to give money to support scouting without getting anything (or at lest anything they don't need)?


Beavah(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Oh man! I soooo agree with you.


I can pay $10.00 for a quart size tin of old/cold/stale Trails End popcorn or go to Wal-Mart and buy a 5 GALLON can of 3 flavor old/cold/stale popcorn.


Truth is, we go through the motions to convince ourselves that we are making whoever is selling "whatever" earn the money.


I eat the Kiwanis pancakes every year even though they are cold and chewy because....it's the Kiwanis. Any restaurant try to sell me that nasty pile of round cardboard...I'd ask for my money back AND never patronize that place again!



Whenever I break down and clean out my truck...I mean "really" clean it, I always find suckers and packs of mints and such that I bought from the Lions Club.


I do not eat or use their stuff, but well. I support them.


So my Webelos son wants to earn money for whatever in Scouting. How does he do it? By cleaning his room? By doing homework? By picking up toys in the yard?


That's stuff he should be doing anyways without bribery.


I don't get paid to clean my room, cut the grass or take my son places.


Wow! Didn't mean to go off on a rant.


Beavah, I agree with you completely.


The only thing we can really hope is that our sons don't figure out that they are not really earning their way. And we can hope they do more each and every year instead of doing less or ultimately just sitting on their butts and expecting everything for nothing!


Yeah, I have seen some scouts and parents who couldn't do less if they were in a coma! :p

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Thats why I like my troops fundraisers. First off they finish building wreaths, wire on the bow and pinecones and then sell them concurrent with our sponsors hot/fresh pancake breakfast. They spend both sweat equity and salesmanship with the instant feed back of face to face sales. Cept this last year when they surprised the leaders by whipping out cellphones and selling to family as well!


The other one is installing and removing holiday lights on the local bank, this one involves more leader work than I like but what can you do when the boys arn't allowed on ladders?


Involvement in either means the troop subsidizes summer camp or Scout Shop expenses, the more times involved the greater the subsidy.

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Let me stress that I do not mind paying for stuff for my son when it comes to scouting....he's only 9 years old- not gonna make him get a job.




He does do stuff around the house and prep work for scouting related stuff too.


I just don't try to tell myself that "He paid his way" because he is doing stuff I'd make him do anyways.(This message has been edited by scoutfish)

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They should certainly pay PART of their own way. My son raised all $1650 for his jambo fee. And he appreciated the experience more, I think, than if I had just written a check for him. He also discovered that he had a lot more credibility in the eyes of some of the adults when he could look them in the eye and say "I am paying for this myself because I really want to be here."


That said, he earned at least some of his money by doing extra chores around the house, and he discovered that family members are suckers for jambo fundraisers (no, we really did not need those boy scout trash bags). We did make sure he understood that people were buying them to help and support him, not just to get the (generally overpriced) merchandise. We also made sure he understood that all of the adults who make jambo possible, paid out of pocket for the privilege of attending or staffing. So - no - he didn't really and truly bear the full cost of his participation and he knows it.





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My son (who is 10) wants to go to the 2015 World Jamboree in Japan, like, really bad. He has started saving money--but his parents have started saving as well. He learns the principle of what thrift really is, by saving some of his $4 a week allowance & monetary gifts he receives, AND he learns it from the example his parents are setting.


so, no, I don't expect him to pay his way. I do expect him to work for what he wants, but that's not the same thing.

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Back in the day, I raised my money to go on a trip the hard way: cleaning up after a parish (county) fair. I also cleaned up after a Virginia Slims Tournament, went door to door distributing flyers, and cut grass. I think it's safe to say I paid my way as a scout.


Now I admit I have bought an awful lot for my son. BUT I made him pay for part of his uniform with his savings and birthday money. He has helped with some of his camp outs. And he is saving money for Philmont, the Summit or Jamboree (can't make up his mind but he's only a Wolf).

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I don't think Scouts should be forced to pay their way entirely, but I think it is a good thing for them to get some skin in the game, to pay part of their costs. It's not a direct analogy, but if you looked at college kids, and compared those whose parents paid their full cost to those who had to pay all or part of their costs, my guess is those who had to earn their way probably had better attendance in class, and probably worked harder on their grades. They were probably less likely to drop classes and probably spent more time studying and less time partying. When you have to pay your way, when you have some skin in the game, that activity will be of more value to you. You won't take it for granted. I think this would also apply to Scouting.

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I grew up paying my own way for all my trips and activities. That included college and graduate studies as well.


I'm thinking somewhere along the way some of these things were subsidized by other funds (property taxes and the schools), but it didn't make much difference in the long run. If I wanted to go, I anted up the money on my own. It was easy since I have held at least a part time job since I was 12 years old.


I never really developed the notion that somehow there was some sort of free lunch out there and all I needed to do was have someone else toss me a few bucks along the way. I paid for it or I didn't go.


As in the world back then I'm thinking I'm a small percentage of those who opted for that route to travel, but as I see it now I own my own home, drive 3 different cars all of which are paid for, and I owe no one any money. Last time I checked my credit rating was somewhere around 825. I'm thinking I'm still a small percentage of those who continue to opt for that route to travel.


Did I miss out on anything? A few trips here and there, and a whole lot of financial headaches along the way. A scout is trifty for a reason.


So, Beavah, yes, the boys should all pay their way in the world. It's a lesson in leadership that will enable the boys to function better in any economic environment.


And by the way, whenever the youth come around and try and sell me candy bars, popcorn, wreaths or cookies, they get a check and told to take the merchandise over to the nursing home. Well, with one exception, those GS thin mints are pretty hard to turn down. :)





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I have to disagree with my fellow Beaver. One of the worst things we can do for our children is teach them that they are "entitled" to "things" by their elders. Nothing in life is free. Thrifty doesn't mean "paying your own way", although that is one of the lessons of thrifty. The Personal Management merit badge taught correctly teaches thrifty to a scout. You have to have a source of income, you have to have a budget, you have to meet your obligations, you need to save a portion and you need to spend your discretionary cash wisely. If we fail to teach our children those lessons when they are children, they are doomed to a life of thinking they deserve the things they want from the hands of others and/or will continue the downward slide of buying so much on credit that they will never be able to pay it off. Teaching a scout to work, earn money and spend it to pay part of his way is a valuable life lesson that hopefully reinforces what he is being taught at home. In those homes with helicopter parents, they probably are not getting those lessons.


In our home, our son has known since he was little (17.5 now) that he would buy his own vehicle when he was old enough to drive or he wouldn't be driving. His mother and I both had to buy ours at that age too. Having some skin in the game makes a huge difference. When you have to stack bags of mulch, potting soil and manure, carry plants to peoples cars, sweep, drive a bobcat, etc. for 10 hours a day during the summer and then make your truck payment, buy your gas and pay your insurance.......you tend to appreciate your truck more than they guy who had it handed to him and comes to believe that he is entitled to it from mom and dad. I saw it in my generation and my son's generation. The kids who had it handed to them had no gratitude and no sense of responsibility and trashed their cars with the knowledge that mom and dad would get them another one. Those of us who bought our own treated them like a priceless gem. My son is sitting pretty with cash in his pocket, a weekly paycheck and $1500 in the bank and rarely spends any of it. He has another year left on paying off his truck. All of this and he still makes straight A's and just finished serving as SPL of his Jamboree troop. He took $200 spending cash that he earned thru fundraisers and didn't spend a penny of it. Other kids blew thru it in the first couple of days.


Teaching a scout to be thrifty and earning money to help pay his way is an invaluable life lesson that will make him a better man and a better citizen.


Just my .04 cents worth. ;)

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I split Seabase fees with my son. He did chores (including renovation projects) to earn his half, but when it came time to pay fees, the portion that he earned got left in his savings account. The fact that he could earn $ if he wanted to was good enough for me.


Bottom line for our family: a kid's primary job is to do very well at school. (Getting a 'B' or less = you flunked.) If they pull that off and some basic chores and the police aren't knocking at our door, they'll get a pass on having to earn every $ they spend on activities. I do let them know exactly how much I am paying for stuff, and if the money can't be spared, it won't happen.


Result: he is not a deadbeat. He is on the dean's list in college, and works the summers for his spending money and part of his tuition.


I have seen other "part-time job since age 12" kids completely incapable of building up any savings because they had a mindset that everything they earn is theirs to spend in the moment.


That said, I'd rather have a kid find a part time job than do fundraisers for every activity he's in.


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Well I agree with you Beavah.


The scout does not really pay his own way. The volunteers are not paid, the hall is free, the equipment and trailer do not come with a usage fee. Plus, although some trip expenses may be picked up or fund-raised away, there are still dues, uniforms MB academies. Besides we have all seen that the there is a variety of ways to run a troop. Some troop camp only in council camps and range only an hour or two from the meeting hall. Others wander across country with much higher fees. So a troop with camp fees that total out at $300 year; yea maybe selling popcorn and mowing lawns will get this scout through on his own. But out of council camps, Jamaborees, Camporees, Seabase and Norther tiers plus any variety of High Adventure in between will run beyond nearly all expected wages capacities of a 12 - 14 year old.


So you pick your lessons. "Son pay your own way and have few and limited experiences or son here is funding for you to see parts of the State and Country that many kids your age have not seen". We have chosen the latter for our son.


Plus put a car Vs scout decision in front of a 16 year old boy and he may still be in scouts but forget about him ponying up $300 for summer camp. He has gas to buy.


As far as the myth part, which I also agree with, when we look at old scout books from 1940' - 1960's they may have showed some homemade equipment but for the most part parents bought their gear then too. The stove fuel may have been liquid and the tent were likely troop canvas tents. But the aluminum pots nestled then too. Battery powered flashlights predate WWII may at least a decade. Boots were bought, food was bought gas too.


This Myth is:







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I have just a wee bit of difference of emphasis in that in terms of THRIFTY, I don't draw a line of distinction between earning money with a part time job or getting off the sofa and hustling door-to-door with a popcorn fundraiser. To me it's the investment of one's self energy into the process that develops an attitude of thrifty/monetary awareness for the scout.


If all I do is make one phone call and grandma buys enough popcorn to feed her neighborhood and I get to go to summer camp, that's really not investing much of myself into the process. Neither is going over spending an hour sweeping out her garage to pay for a week of camp.


On the other hand if the scout is out every fall raking leaves, every winter shoveling snow, every spring cleaning out flower beds and every summer mowing lawns, for the neighborhood, then selling popcorn to all his "employers" in the fall, I'd say he is putting in a pretty good personal investment into whatever he wishes to spend his money on. Heck, if I had a kid in my neighborhood that hustled like that, I'd slap down $50 cash and tell him to not be at all "thrifty" with the money and totally enjoy every treat the trading post had to offer. At the end of the week if he hadn't spent it at the trading post, he had to bring back the change, and there had better not be any. :)


Those that put their own sweat into the money appreciate it more than the gratuitous handouts of rich uncles and sympathetic grandmas.


It just depends on what lesson one wishes to teach....



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What? Your Scouts don't pay their own way? When our boys go to summer camp, they haul in the lumber they've milled from the trees they've cut down to build their own cabins and cookshack. They then use the money they make from selling the cabins to council to pay for the Cordon Bleu chef & his staff. Not! Ha-ha!

I believe there are some mistaken ideas about paying his own way. It does not mean being able to open his wallet on the instant in order to pay Scrooge's bookkeeper. A better view is that the Scout gets things on his own hook rather than by begging.

We haven't paid weekend campsite fees in years; we exchange conservation project labor instead. Camping gear is earned by doing low-level home handyman type chores for people (mowing lawns, cleaning garages, washing windows, etc.). Troop fundraisers, where everyone takes part, go for troop gear. And, yes, we pay for the electricity for the light bulbs by doing some chores around the CO building.

Some parents do pay all their son's expenses -- which is fine. Our Friends of Troop ##, through their own contributions and fund raisers, do pay for upgrades over the basics, but they have no problems with that because it's for their own sons and his friends.

What is really helpful is that each kid is presented with the info of what the outing would have cost if he had done no work on his own -- either for himself as an individual or for the troop as a whole. They are given to understand early that there is no Santa. Of course, for Christmas and birthdays they can hint for camping gear instead of Xbox. It may take all the relatives chipping in together to buy that new backpack

Lastly, most all kids pay for their public school education. It's just that the payment is deferred until they start paying taxes themselves

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