By Darryl Alder
Dec 22, 2015

LDS/BSA Summit: The Cost of Scouting

This is part 7 of the 8 part report. Other reports include these:

Early in December, a team of determined Scouters, including Council Key 3s and professional staff gathered on Temple Square in Salt Lake City to discuss ways to better meet the needs of The Church IMG_1058of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through Scouting. The Chief Scout Executive joined others from throughout BSA’s Western Region.

In previous reports we explained how those participating were divided into five discussion groups to consider the cost of Scouting and the other topics listed above. In this post we report on the discussion group’s thoughts regarding the cost of Scouting and its effects on LDS wards and stakes, their families and youth.

The Cost of Scouting

There were several table groups that took this topic on. To get them started, Council Key 3 from the Western Region’s Area 2 had drafted these discussion points:

  • The BSA should explore lower-cost options for uniforms, advancements, program materials, and other direct Scouting costs for families and wards.
  • Donors need the reassurance that local donations benefit local Scouting programs.
  • The disconnect between the donating Latter-day Saint and the Scouting council must be addressed.
  • The BSA must be transparent in the use of funds and is responsible to show LDS leaders the value they receive as a return on their investment.

After several hours of discussion, table groups combined their thoughts to make this list of top actions for back home:

  1. Funds will follow trust; LDS parents must feel BSA is a safe place for their children. Every council needs to explain BSA’s Code of Conduct and Youth Protection Training requirements to assure parents of their Scout’s safety.
  2. Every council needs a BSA/LDS Relationships Committee who understand council budgets. In turn they need to offer training and communication about how BSA funds are used and show that they stay local.
  3. Together our councils need to share what works in cost cutting and fundraising. Best practice sharing needs to be integrated into our combined culture.
  4. It was agreed that we all need to reduce costs of uniforms, camps and awards. As we each discover how, the best practice sharing suggested above is a must. Some examples the group considered were:
    • Corporate camp sponsors
    • Regular competitive bidding for food and other supplies and group buying among councils
    • Use camp cards and EXPO sales to help all youth earn their way to camp
    • Seek a major donor endowment for part of camp operations
    • Offer an “ala carte” program menu with stated pricing so that stakes can select to camp at council facilities, but only use services they want or need
    • Offer demand-based pricing for weeks that fill poorly, for early registration, for preferred camp sites.
    • Use “go funding”and other online giving to offset camp costs
    • Increase camp usage to fill all weeks (volume will reduce some costs) with LDS Young Women Camps and LDS Youth Conferences
    • Build a Council-wide uniform bank and shop thrift stores for uniforms (Deseret Industries, Salvation Army, Good Will, Savers, etc.)
    • Explore a “Wal-mart” value uniform that BSA can add patches to.
    • Move to activity uniforms (T-shirts) for each program
  5.  When collecting FOS donations use pledge cards from bishops (this campaign should be priesthood-leader driven). Make sure route-based visits include every home in the ward’s boundaries. At each door ask for a generous contribution. Be sure there is a clean-up campaign. Remember this must start at the top, with the stake president, and get to the end of the row.
Darryl head BWAuthor: Darryl Alder | Director of Strategic Initiatives, Utah National Parks Council, BSA.
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