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Friends of Scouting Mandatory?

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#21 Krampus

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 08:49 AM

Our district had roundtable last night with the council key 3, the VP of Programs and the camping and properties chair.  One of these 5 is a paid professional, the other 4 are volunteers.
Much of their visit was to speak about plans for possibly selling one of our camps and money.
 
This year our council did away with FOS.  They have implimented a manditory $24 "activity fee" on every registration instead.

 
ROFL...I have to say that would be a deal breaker for me. I'd gladly pay my dues for BSA because these are services I require. I would not pay a user fee for something I don't....especially if the council is not good at managing its finances (not saying yours is, but I know mine isn't).
 

To be honest I like the activity fee idea better than FOS.  I think it would be easier to sell parent at registration every year by saying "yep, it's $75 a year to be in scouting.  1/3 goes to national, 1/3 to council and 1/3 to the unit.  Write one check now and we'll do local fundraisers for all the rest."  That's better than constantly coming back to the unit asking for more money.

But now you've just increased membership fees by 100% (from $24 to $48, $60 if you add in BL); and that's on top of any unit costs. So my unit charges $75 annually. We are cheap compared to others in my area ($100+ for many of them). Of that $75, BSA takes their share, the rest goes in to annual equipment maintenance, awards, meeting costs, etc. We balance out each year and have a cash-on-hand account of $2000 for emergencies. We would lose MANY members if BSA raised dues.

Why not just charge those units who use the camps? I don't see a need for other units to subsidize my unit using the camps, nor would I expect to subsidize other units. Make it demand-based, not a tax everyone approach.

Edited by Krampus, 09 December 2015 - 08:57 AM.

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#22 SlowDerbyRacer

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 08:57 AM

... Without councils we couldn't function.  ...

 

I'd argue otherwise.  I see so much on this board relating to the council and district.  At the end of the day this is kid centric program, and ideally at the boy scout level, a boy led program.  You could deliver 95%+ of scouting with just your local volunteers and the scout book to guide the program.  


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#23 desertrat77

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 09:02 AM

I prefer to contribute directly to a council camp, and specific projects.  "Raising X dollars to replace the roof on the mess hall."  No problem, I'll write a check, happy to help.

 

However....

 

Will I cut a check for council overhead?   The palace-like HQ that some councils build unto themselves?   Wages for admin staffs that cannot keep the simplest records straight, nor produce quality products in a timely manner, nor provide a website that has useful information and a registration process that works?   Professional staff salary pyramid scheme?   No thanks.  

 

I'm not a complete curmudgeon.  When I was stationed at a base in the deep South, I was in a very small council.   Small/old council hq building.  A total of three people on council staff.  Dedicated, hard-working, down to earth folks.   I had no problem contributing to FOS in that council.   Did so gladly.

 

But for those other councils, with the fancy council hq, bloated staffs, superior/distant/hands off attitudes towards unit level vols, etc., it is a remarkable plan the BSA has devised:  the pros incur expenses, and the vols are expected to pay for said expenses.   With no input from the vols.  Aside from financial.


Edited by desertrat77, 09 December 2015 - 09:03 AM.

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#24 desertrat77

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 09:06 AM

 
....especially if the council is not good at managing its finances....
 

Krampus, this is truly the "sum of the whole matter."  


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#25 andysmom

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 09:08 AM

The council gets no money from National, yes, they exist for the units but how are they supposed to pay for the services they provide?

The fees charged by summer camp is enough to offset that cost.  They pay councelors, for food, for program.  Not sure they could charge enough to offset taxes, year round property management and camp imporvements and have anyone afford to go to camps.

Our council is doing better and managing their money, they paid off our debt and have come in at or just under budget for the last 3 years, but again they have done no maintenance or upgrades on any of the camps.


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#26 SlowDerbyRacer

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 09:09 AM

...

it is a remarkable plan the BSA has devised:  the pros incur expenses, and the vols are expected to pay for said expenses.  

...

This is it.


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#27 Krampus

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 09:18 AM

Krampus, this is truly the "sum of the whole matter."


I live in north Texas. You should see the HQs and scout shops we have! And then you should see the balance sheet of the council and how much money they have in the bank. Then go to the council camps. As you drive in notice the new training center they have built which is only used for WB and staff offices. Drive by the open-air dinning hall which reaches 103F or higher during summer camp. Then "do your duty" in one of the lovely trap johns at camp; recall the lovely aroma during summer camp. As you're doing that remind yourself of the money you give each year to FOS and in dues...and wonder why some of all that money council has cannot be spent on YOUR comfort and not the comfort of the paid staff.

 

Here's a few pics so you don't have to use your imagination except for the smell. :) BTW, the staff and offices are very modern, have A/C and flush toilets.

 

c3pUlUl.png

oHOCJid.png


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#28 Krampus

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 09:24 AM

The council gets no money from National, yes, they exist for the units but how are they supposed to pay for the services they provide?

The fees charged by summer camp is enough to offset that cost.  They pay councelors, for food, for program.  Not sure they could charge enough to offset taxes, year round property management and camp imporvements and have anyone afford to go to camps.

Our council is doing better and managing their money, they paid off our debt and have come in at or just under budget for the last 3 years, but again they have done no maintenance or upgrades on any of the camps.

 

The councils SHOULD be able to recover their operating costs through:

  • Sale of merchandise
  • Fees for summer camp or use of council camps
  • FOS and other donations/bequests
  • Sponsorships
  • Fundraising...and if nuts, popcorn don't work find something people actually need
  • Upgrades can be funded by fundraising, having the OA actually *do* something, ask for units to help by volunteering to work on projects, get in-kind contributions, etc.
  • Cut costs b/c I will guarantee if a business man got in to the council's books they'd fine a lot more to cut than the council does

But no, councils take the easy way out: Tax their members. That's the coward's way out. Rather than actually *think* or work on something of value, they simply raise membership dues.

 

I am glad my council does not take this approach (raise dues). I guess I have that to be thankful for.


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#29 desertrat77

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 09:31 AM

I live in north Texas. You should see the HQs and scout shops we have! And then you should see the balance sheet of the council and how much money they have in the bank. Then go to the council camps. As you drive in notice the new training center they have built which is only used for WB and staff offices. Drive by the open-air dinning hall which reaches 103F or higher during summer camp. Then "do your duty" in one of the lovely trap johns at camp; recall the lovely aroma during summer camp. As you're doing that remind yourself of the money you give each year to FOS and in dues...and wonder why some of all that money council has cannot be spent on YOUR comfort and not the comfort of the paid staff.

 

Here's a few pics so you don't have to use your imagination except for the smell. :) BTW, the staff and offices are very modern, have A/C and flush toilets.

 

c3pUlUl.png

oHOCJid.png

Krampus, your description and photos of the latrines are producing a powerful memory!   :)

 

AC and flush toilets for WB training, the "pinnacle of scout leader training."    And, of course, when the pro staff in Irving needs to get away from work for an off-site, where better to reconnect with scouting and the outdoors than a nice building with all of the amenities suited for one's station in life?


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#30 andysmom

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 09:31 AM

OK, I am seeing this from the perspective of our council.  The office is in a modest building that also houses the scout shop.  I believe there are 4 paid employees (in the office), the executive, a book keeper, the person who processes all the advancement paperwork and a recently added part time receptionist.  There are volunteers that help out.  We have 2 scout camps that run summer camp programs and a cub scout camp that, until this year, ran cub day camp and webelos arrow of light overnight camp.


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#31 Krampus

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 09:40 AM

Krampus, your description and photos of the latrines are producing a powerful memory!   :)

 

AC and flush toilets for WB training, the "pinnacle of scout leader training."    And, of course, when the pro staff in Irving needs to get away from work for an off-site, where better to reconnect with scouting and the outdoors than a nice building with all of the amenities suited for one's station in life?

 

Here's one of the two new buildings.

 

OK, I am seeing this from the perspective of our council.  The office is in a modest building that also houses the scout shop.  I believe there are 4 paid employees (in the office), the executive, a book keeper, the person who processes all the advancement paperwork and a recently added part time receptionist.  There are volunteers that help out.  We have 2 scout camps that run summer camp programs and a cub scout camp that, until this year, ran cub day camp and webelos arrow of light overnight camp.

 

I can understand. But if things are so modest it sounds like cash flow may be the problem. My council his HUGE and we have four camps...all of them have issues. All of them have great buildings for staff but slight amenities for us members. The council has money int he bank. We also have Taj Mahals for scout shops and offices, so I know where they spend the money and where they don't

 

If your council has three camps then maybe they have one or two too many. If the offices are spartan then austerity measures may be needed. If fundraising is an issue then new ideas are needed. Not saying dues increases are not needed, but that's the easy string to pull and requires no hard thought or belt tightening. As a business person, when I hear of increases without other measures being addressed I know they are taking the easy way out.


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#32 gumbymaster

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 09:48 AM

To be honest I like the activity fee idea better than FOS.  I think it would be easier to sell parent at registration every year by saying "yep, it's $75 a year to be in scouting.  1/3 goes to national, 1/3 to council and 1/3 to the unit.  Write one check now and we'll do local fundraisers for all the rest."  That's better than constantly coming back to the unit asking for more money.

 

In general, I would be much more comfortable with this approach as well.  Ok I've got to pay W if we want Boy's Life, X to the BSA organization (for registration), Y to the Council (for organization), and Z to the Troop (for Program/awards/etc.) - but as one annual fee to the troop. 

 

Or as an alternative, add that cost as a franchise fee to the Chartered Org. - Then let the Chartered org decide if that gets passed down. They at least get to vote on some of the Council operations - let them have some skin in the game.  (Although overall I think I like the first approach better).

 

One of the challeneges with both these approaches is Chartered Orgs like the LDS that pay all the fees and regisrtation on the Scout's behalf and don't pass that to the parents - it would be pulling a lot of additional money from them.

 

All that said, I'd still like to see a real disclosure of how funds are spent.  How much actually goes to Salaries, how much are we really paying for the CE?  What is the rent, etc. and maintainence on the Council office and Camp(s)?  How much does the Council subsidize (if any) the training, roundtables, and promotional programs?  How much is going to an endowment and/or rainy day fund?


Edited by gumbymaster, 09 December 2015 - 09:54 AM.

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#33 desertrat77

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 09:53 AM

Here's one of the two new buildings.

 

 

Incredible!

 

The waste/misdirection of resources aside, I'd rather join you and everyone else in the non-AC mess hall, peak of TX summer heat, with a heaping plate of chili mac and steamed carrots, and enjoy the camaraderie with you all instead of sitting in an ergonomic chair in the Training Palace as the briefer belabors slide 17 of his 49 slide power point show.   A bit of a run-on/grammatically incorrect sentence, but my message is sincere.


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#34 desertrat77

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 10:01 AM

Non-profit orgs are experts at throwing away dollars.   Even if they have the best of intentions.   The waste, poor prioritization of resources and ensuing inefficiency can be staggering at times.


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#35 andysmom

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 11:28 AM

Here's one of the two new buildings.

 

 

 

Wow!  We have nothing like that. 

Our "camp offices" do have indoor plumbing with a room designated as the "Scouter's Lounge" that is air conditioned but it is reserved for Scouters and Sr Patrol Leaders.  The health lodge has indoor plumbing as well, the campmaster uses this cabin during the off season at one of the camps.  The "Training Center" we have at one camp is literally a trailer with a fireplace, if another camp is used for training it is done in a regular cabin that troops can use for camping.  They are very basic, bunks, disgusting stove and refrigerators, no running water, outdoor latrines.  One of our camps has a county requirement that the building must be heated, so they have propane heaters but the rest have fireplaces.  The camps of course have lean tos and tent sites.

I can understand why you don't want to fund your council if they are building things like that instead of working on the camps.

 

I was able to see our council's annual report including the budget on their website.


Edited by andysmom, 09 December 2015 - 11:28 AM.

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#36 blw2

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 02:10 PM

our council's office is very dated in a not so nice part of town.

and they have just just finished, or are about to finish a massive upgrade at the council's main camp with screened shelters at each campsite, and aquatics park, and I think some other stuff.  Each campsite's latrine is a much nicer and cleaner version of the outhouse krampus pictured... basically the same thing but much nicer.

 

re FOS, our previous and now current Cubmaster rejects FOS at our B&G.  Tells them not to come. I agree with him partly, but I also realize that this is what they are being asked to do so while I was Cubmaster I let them have the floor for a few minutes, not ideal maybe, but really no big deal.

 

Also, I have to say that i have never felt the need to give to FOS.  I am already giving greatly to scouting and the BSA in time, treasure, and perhaps not so much talent.  I've ended up buying and donating all sorts of stuff to the unit through the years.

The way I figure it

support the unit, make it strong.

Make the unit something folks want to join

when more folks join they get more dues.....

and so on...

If I were a "normal" parent I'd likely feel a little more like giving.

 

BUT getting a letter like that certainly would turn me sour.


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#37 Lurking...

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 02:13 PM

Our council camp just built a new training center (flush toilets and showers), a new dining hall, pool, shooting sports range and fixed up the old dining hall better than it ever was over the past 20 years.   But funds are short here too.  Yeah right! 


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#38 desertrat77

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 02:51 PM

@Stosh, those training center showers are absolutely necessary...one can work up quite a sweat sitting indoors, listening to speakers all the live long day, taking notes, standing in the buffet line, and chit chatting....:)


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#39 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 02:57 PM

I know there are a lot of complaints about some of the stuff being built at camps. Heck I was ticked off at the pool that was built at my old camp, when we have a gorgeous man-made lake with built to Safe Swim Defense specs waterfront. I thought it was a waste of money.

 

BUT, I found out that there are a lot of laws, both federal and state, that are being pushed on camps. That was why my old camp had to build a pool.

 

That's why all BSA camps have to deal with the National Camp Accreditation Program, which replaced the various National Standards. A lot of the improvements are being mandated.


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#40 SeattlePioneer

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 03:11 PM

Once again I am thankful that the Chief Seattle Council is well managed and well financed.  I see little waste or excess,  although the council DOES have problems administering BSA's excessively complex administrative burdens from time to time.

 

I'm sure I would find it immensely annoying if the council I was in was one of those that Couldn't Shoot Straight.


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