Concerned Eagle Scout

I received an email from a “Concerned Eagle Scout” Today.
Mr. “Concerned Eagle Scout” has concerns about justifying FOS dollars.
And I can appreciate “Concerned Eagle Scouts”concerns. His biggest issue seems to be the cost of Scouting. Well.. let me share his email with you. And yeah… I moderated it.. took out some stuff that really did not add to the argument. And my comments are embedded in his email.

Jerry -

I have a real problem with FOS or what it should be called is SMJ (Save My Job). I and many others in our town have a real issue contributing funds to council when everything and I mean everything for scouting has become so expensive.
OK CES (Concerned Eagle Scout), here is where you start in the wrong direction.
Everything in Scouting is getting expensive because things are expensive. But you do know that the Scout Shop (uniforms and supplies) are not part of your council and receive NO dollars from FOS. Salaries, benefits, and materials for running the Councils day to day operation is where the money goes.

We run a very effective program for our cub scouts and we do it all with the money we raise through popcorn. Like JC states, we have families in our pack that are experiencing financial hardship with the current economic situation. Welcome to the club.. things are tough all over. So don’t support FOS.. and watch your Scouting programs go away.
How can we as scouts expect or even think of asking these families to put out more money when their having problems meeting their own financial needs. Well… how can I expect it.. I love Scouting. I can afford 42 cents a day for FOS.. heck a Scout is thrifty right. I collect cans and recycle them for FOS. You mean to tell me, you can’t do that? You mentioned running of the camps and the staff that supports them; how can I or any scout leader expect a family in financial hardship to pay $300 for camp (yes it costs that much in our council to send a boy to day camp)? Again, if that is the cost of doing business in your Council.. which seems a bit steep to me.. then that is the cost of doing business. Sell more popcorn.. have a car wash, participate in the candy sales and hold a Garage sale. Thrifty. Explain to me so that I can explain to my scouts and their parents why they should give to FOS when the top officers of scouting make over 140K annually. What Council are you in? I know that there is no one in your council that makes that much. Maybe at the National level, but then again… none of your FOS money goes to National. That’s almost double the annual household income for some of our scout families. Explain it to me Jerry so that I can justify it to my scouts and their parents. It’s this simple. don’t support it and you will have no Scouting. If your families are making 70,000 a year. Then you are doing better than most. So I would suggest you act like an Eagle Scout and remember your obligation you took to Scouting. Be Thrifty and Helpful and figure out a way to raise the funds. Families in our area make much less than what you have suggested and we keep our Council vibrant and healthy. Rather than make a bunch of excuses and whine… figure out a way that you can support Scouting. We have become very creative. Bake sales, car washes, dinners, etc. I’ve asked my local council for an explanation and they can’t or won’t give me an explanation, they just want the money. I do not think you are being intellectually honest here. Every Council brochure that I have looked at (via the internet etc) disclose where the money goes and how your dollar benefits the Council. If local councils want money to support the program and pay their paychecks, then they need to get the funds from corporations. You have heard about the FOS Community program right? They get money from your local corporations. That is what a lot of your DE’s time is spent doing. Oh and about 85 cents of every dollar from FOS goes to programs.. not paychecks. Endowments, and other funds are used for paychecks. At least in our Council, I can’t imagine your Council being to different. In my eyes and the eyes of other in our pack, families give enough to support scouting. I think you need to open your eyes a little wider and see the program for what it really is not as a target. I know times are tough, but that is no excuse for Scouting to suffer.
We all budget our time, energy and money. As we sit at our dinning room tables and work out our families monthly budget we cut what is not important and spend on what is. FOS is one of those items that we are not willing to cut because we see, directly, the value of our dollar.
We see that Scouting does good things… not just for my two sons, but for all the Scouts in my Troop. So I can assume that it is doing good in every unit.
I justify giving to FOS because I see the camps that we go to… in fact we camping at one of our Councils 18 fully paid properties this weekend. That can’t happen without FOS.
I look beyond emotion and look at real numbers. I can understand where you are coming from… really I can, but I think if you all took the time and penciled it out.. you could easily justify to your Packs families the benefits of making contributions to FOS. I am not sure where you get your numbers and information from, my guess is it is probably from another disgruntled Scouters. But my friend, you are an Eagle Scout. Somewhere along the way people paid and you benefited from this program. Give back. That simple.

Just my thoughts….
Thanks for your thoughts.

I hope that my comments do not come across as smug or unfriendly. It is a simple fact that no matter what, we need to do what we need to do to keep Scouting alive and well, if that means we give to FOS..then that is what we need to do. Call it something else…it still pays for Scouting.
Concerned Eagle Scout, I am not beating you up, I am calling you to learn more and really look at the dollars. It pencils out.. I promise you.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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11 thoughts on “Concerned Eagle Scout

  1. I would say that I had agreed with CES, then I chatted with Jerry, and realizd that I was just crabby at my own district and council. FOS is needed, give as much or as little as you would like, give none, but then don’t gripe when your council has to start closing and selling camps, as the income doesn’t meet the expense….

  2. Every Scout Council files an annual form 990 with the IRS that states, among other things, executive compensation. They are available online at several different reporting sites (google form 990).Simply put it costs most Councils more to deliver the program than they charge. Our council calculates that the short fall per scout is about $150.00. This has to come from somewhere. We ask our families to donate what they can afford.Often us volunteers get a bit chapped when we are asked for donations on top of our time. We wonder if the folks at the Council office are worth their salaries and whether or not they mange money well. Truth be told some are and some aren’t, some do and some don’t – it is the way of the world.

  3. I sm a volunteer presenter for FOS now for three years in my district and I was FOS chair last year.I absolutely think FOS is important and every Scouter should give to their local council at some level. (Money to church first) It just so amazes me that people who benefit from the program are not willing to chip in even a few bucks to help it live on. Funny that a local business person will slap down hundreds of $s for Scouts but a person directly benefitting from the program will not? Are we just passive consumers not willing to even give $10 bucks as a symbol? Do we want rely on the work of kids as they raise money? We are a private organization that must have private funding to live on. Invest in the program with your finances as well as your time.

  4. could not agree with you more.We need to be paying forward for the future of Scouting.The investments we make in it now through our Time, talents, and treasures will pay dividends for my Grandkids and yours.Scouting is 99 years old! It did not stick around that long by passive leadership or benifactors.Again, It is not my intent to beat up on Concerned Eagle Scout… but he provided the best example of why we need to make contribution, no matter how small or large to FOS.Have a Great Scouting Day All!thanks for the comments.

  5. I read this post with interest as we just had our FOS presentation. I think the part of CES post that bothered me the most – “If local councils want money to support the program and pay their paychecks, then they need to get the funds from corporations.”Here is the mentality that it is someone elses responsibility. My son is a part of scouts, my son enjoys scouts, my son is learning from scouts. It is *MY* responsibility as a parent to provide for him – and if that means giving to FOS so that scouts can continue, than so be it.Why it would be the responsibility of an annonymous corporation somewhere to be sure that my son has scouts is ridiculous. I am pleased when others (corporations, local businesses, etc) give to scouting because they feel it is important, but as a parent it is my responsibility. Let’s not teach our scouts to rely on others.

  6. I agree with the need for FoS and times being hard for scouting. I talked to someone that told me that he knows of Scout Execs that tell their DEs that they needed to earn at least their salary from the district FoS. Yet can we not understand peoples frustraion when the Orange County Register (Calif) publishes a story that talks about the coun council there laying off a paid support staff person when the Scout Exec is making over $250K. I know I am frustrated by rules being issued by council that seem to forget that that there is a volunteer side and a paid side and are designed to make things easier on the paid side. I know the council I am in had not grasped the idea of marketing and change management. They do not do a good job of updating leaders on what is going on at council level or on the business side of council. Because of what I do at the District level, I spend a lot of time trolling other council websites and I haven’t seen councils doing a good job about tell the council story. So what does a Field Director or a Director of Devlopment do and why do we need them? On the flip side, as the husband of a Girl Scout leader and a registered GS Troop co-leader, I can tell you that BSA is far superior for supporting leaders then that organization. Also, not all council scout shops are run by National Scout Supply, ours is not. Which can be agravating when you look at stocking decisions, but yes our council makes money from the scout shop.]Finally, I think the best thing our council did this year was tell people how much we needed to collect for every scout currently registered. $57 is not alot and is worth it for what our scout has gotten from it. Oh and yes we gave more then that.ThanksVa Scout Leader

  7. As I'm sure most people reading this are aware, we do things differently here in the UK. We don't have FOS for a start.Before we do anything, we have to pay £25 ($35) per member of the Group, including Leaders, to pay for the running of our District, County and the whole of the Scout Association. This means at the beginning of this year we have had to pay out just over £1500 ($2200). We then get this money back from the young people's parents.Then they have to pay £1.50 per meeting so we can pay for badges and materials etc. This doesn't include the buying of the uniform! A weekend camp can cost around £25.However, we as a Group are good at keeping our finances straight. We can claim money back through the tax man, we can apply for charitable grants and we raise money when we need it. Just before Christmas we spent a weekend packing shopper's bags at our local supermarket and we raised just over £1000! That's the new tents paid for!When looked at in one lump, all the expenses on the parents of the young people in the Group seem a lot, but spread out over the course of a year, it isn't so bad. For all the different activities we do and provide new and interesting experience we let the young people participate in the cost is quite small, especially when we don't charge for some of these activities.Compared to a football or swimming club for example, which only focus on one activity and are quite expensive, we offer great value for money.Money is tight at the moment, but if we look after it, use it wisely and fund raise when necessary our Beavers, Cubs & Scouts and their parents won't notice any difference.One thought, has Concerned Eagle Scout been back in touch to further discuss the point?

  8. I appreciate and respect everyone’s comments and point of views. Let me state for the record that at no time did I feel that I was being attacked or condemned by anyone on this blog. We are all here to present our point of views and opinions on one thing we are all passionate about, scouting. I sent an e-mail to Jerry apologizing for the harshness of my original blog. I wrote my original blog in frustration as our district executive has been asking to come to our pack’s committee meeting to speak about FOS and our committee does not want to come to the meeting. Let me preface by saying our committee is not against FOS, but there are members in our committee who would rather donate money our pack rather than our local council. Their reasoning has been made very clear; they can see the direct benefit of their donation. They cannot see the direct benefit of donating to our local council. We used to had out the FOS form, but parents have asked that we stop, because they would rather donate to the pack and see their children directly benefit. I’ve been the committee chairman for the past 2 years and our pack has grown to over 70 cub scouts from 38. Our popcorn sales have gone from $1000 to over $7000 a year in that time. The money we make from popcorn pays for all den activities, rank books, local campouts and many other activities for the scouts. Any donations from local businesses go directly to the program for the boys, and we don’t ask for donations. We have business owners who donate to us because they believe in what we’re doing and they want to contribute to that success in whatever way they can. It is no secret what our district executives get paid because the form 990 is available for public viewing. We have parents who feel that with everyone else tightening their belts to get through this crisis, it’d be nice to see our council executives be thrifty when it comes to paying themselves and put the money back into the program for the boys. If anyone is curious, I and our pack are located in the state of NJ which has the highest cost of living expense in the country.Thanks for reading.

  9. It’s good to see Concerned Eagle Scout got back in touch and doesn’t feel that he is being ‘attacked’.Talking about a subject is always good and often a conclusion or solution can be reached.Money is always going to be a contentious issue, but if we as Groups / Troops / Packs etc. look after it (Thrifty?) properly, then we will be able to provide interesting and stimulating activites for our Scouts etc.

  10. It’s been said that the want of money is the root of all evil. Sadly, we in Scouting are not immune from this influence. The FRIENDS of Scouting program was originally designed to solicit support from friends (co-workers, relatives, former Scouts/Scouters) who were interested in supporting the Scouting program. When it became FAMILY Friends of Scouting is where, in my opinion, it went wrong. Many of you will argue the need for financial support for the District and Council, and I would agree that they need to be supported. The question is what do the units get in return ?Our FOS presentations contain quite a bit of advertisement for our Scout camp. This is a camp that is rented for $1 a year, supports no summer camp experience, and is maintained 98% by volunteers… now please tell me why I should be paying for that.Additionally, if you don’t collect your FOS goal at the unit level, the Council is charging a $10/head fee to use the camp on the weekends.In a time where we already have financial issues, it’s hard for a boy (and his family) to come up with an EXTRA $10 to camp. In our Council we have a very over-inflated paid staff that requires $250 to support one boy in Scouting for the year. I’ve done the research on other Councils of similar size and make-up and the highest I could find was $175/boy. So, why is our Council not managing to reduce the cost per boy — they won’t answer that question.As an Eagle Scout and member of Scouting for 32 years, I find the FOS program misdirected and sorely lacking. If there was an annual cost (above registration) that could be itemized (as most businesses do), I would be more willing to support the Council and District monetary needs.Begging for money from those who are in the program (I spent $3,477 last year on Scouting and don’t have a child in the program) is shameful – IMHO.YIS,David

  11. David,I appreciate your comments. It saddens me to hear that your council lacks in the proper presentation or application of FOS.While the preception to you is that this is wrong, I can assure you that it is not that way all over.Do not have a beef with FOS or the program.. have a beef with your council.Oh and thanks for all you do for the Scouts. That is what really matters.Have a Great Scouting Day!

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