By Elder Dane Leavitt
Jun 29, 2015

To Friends of Scouting in the Utah National Parks Council

Thank you for your kind support of Scouting, and the young men it serves. Over 65,000 families contributed to the Church’s 2014 “Friends of Scouting Drive” for the UNPC. A year has passed, and families may again respond to the First Presidency’s invitation to participate in the annual Friends of Scouting drive (Handbook 2, §13.6.8). As you consider this opportunity, please review the information, below, on Leader Selection, Local Alignment, and UNPC Finances.

Leader Selection

Who may serve as a Scout leader is a matter of current public discussion. Proposals are before the governing bodies of Boy Scouts of America (BSA) which propose changes in Scout unit leader qualification criteria. The Church is well-represented on these governing bodies. Although the Church has a voice, it is but one of many voices. The issues are complex and difficult, and the outcome uncertain.

In LDS-sponsored Scout units, Scout leaders are qualified, called and released by bishops and other Church leaders. The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve guide the Church’s leader selection criteria and its responses to major changes at BSA.

Local Alignment

Within the Church’s Utah South Area, Scouting is well-aligned with the Church’s values and goals. Our wards and branches are BSA’s charter partner in 99.3% of the UNPC’s units. As to our packs, troops, teams and crews, UNPC works with Church leaders to help the Church achieve desired outcomes for its young men – described under these jointly-developed “Six Pillars”:

  • Develop a testimony of Jesus Christ and His Gospel;
  • Grow in capacity to charitably serve;
  • Prepare to serve a mission;
  • Build ability and confidence to do hard things;
  • Learn to become a good husband and father; and
  • Be physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

UNPC Finances

The UNPC serves Utah Scout units in and south of Juab, Utah, Wasatch and Uintah counties. UNPC also serves Scout units in Lincoln County and Mesquite, Nevada, and units on the Arizona Strip. With its 19 local districts, UNPC serves over 89,000 Scouts – and is, by far, the nation’s largest BSA Council in terms of numbers of boys and units served. UNPC’s finance details include:

  1. Friends of Scouting dollars are used locally— in the UNPC and its districts. The UNPC pays only 1% of its total budget to BSA National – UNPC’s share for common services provided by BSA National. As for Scouts in LDS Church-sponsored units, BSA National is funded from Scout registration fees, which the Church annually pays direct to BSA National.  
  2. Funds raised through Friends of Scouting are about 43% of the total income budget for the UNPC. Camping and Activities Revenues are about 45% of the income budget, while the remaining 12% comes from merchandise and supply sales, interest income, etc.How we are funder pie chart 2015
  3. Scouts’ participation in UNPC’s 12 camps (Maple Dell, Tifie, Thunder Ridge, etc.) are funded in part by Friends of Scouting dollars. Camp fees are subsidized about $400,000 annually by Friends of Scouting dollars in order to keep camp fees lower, allowing the UNPC to have one of the country’s lowest BSA camp prices
  4. Friends of Scouting dollars are not the typical source with which UNPC builds camps, buildings, and similar improvements. These funds come from separate donations, and returns on past capital and endowment donations.How the money is used pie chart 2015
  5.  The UNPC payroll for full-time employees averages $41,000 per full-time employee across the organization, including an average of $50,000 per full-time professional staffer. I have studied the top salaries of the council, and they are reasonable — sufficient to retain individuals of needed talent and ability, yet still involving a sacrifice in comparison with private sector alternatives.How we invest in youth pie chart 2015
  6. The UNPC employs 350 seasonal employees – mostly teenagers from Utah South Area stakes – to teach and serve in camps. These young men and women, in their BSA employment, learn to teach and serve in powerful ways, in an away-from-home environment. This Scout employment helps train future missionaries.
  7. camp fun facts 2015UNPC’s accounting processes are professionally handled. I am not the UNPC’s auditor, but I have reviewed the annual audit performed by a fine CPA firm that helps assure that the UNPC’s affairs are well managed and properly presented.
  8. The Endowment Fund of BSA is smaller than it ought to be, but appears both well managed and appropriately segregated. The Endowment Fund is currently approximately $3.3 million. Five percent of this amount — currently about $160,000 per year – helps augment Capital and Operating activities. The Endowment Fund is soundly invested, and historically has achieved sound returns.
  9. UNPC has no debt. It has a line of credit with a present balance of $0 dollars. The line of credit is maintained as a prudent measure to “be prepared.”
  10. Friends of Scouting donations from 2015 will fund 2016 UNPC operations, except that collections from the 2015 drive will help cash-flow the last few months of 2015, a necessity that will be eliminated with consistent Friends of Scouting efforts in this and future years.
  11. Last year’s Friends of Scouting Campaign was our most successful ever, yet the growth in the campaign totals does not keep pace with the membership growth in our rapidly growing region. In terms of expenditures per boy, the UNPC is the nation’s most efficient council.

All donations to the Church’s 2015 Friends of Scouting drive are voluntary. Each will be deeply appreciated. Thank you for considering this opportunity.

Elder Leavitt

Elder Dane Leavitt | Area Seventy for Utah South Area, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints | LDS-BSA Relationships Chair, Utah National Parks Council

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23 thoughts on “To Friends of Scouting in the Utah National Parks Council

  1. Ron Burt

    I respect your letter Elder Dane Leavitt.

    However, this year I will not be contributing to the FOS drive, mainly because the BSA has decided to lift the ban on gay leaders. I cannot in good conscience donate money to an organization whose policies go against my religious beliefs. As of this week the BSA and LGBT community now share the same agenda.

    In years past I have donated to FOS, but I will no longer do so until the BSA puts the boys first. Also, my church tells me to not support or affiliate with any group whose teachings or practices are contrary to the church.

    1. Dale Cressman

      Ron, by your definition of not ‘supporting or affiliating’ with “any group whose teachings or practices are contrary to the church” I’m guessing you probably don’t buy products from any companies that give benefits to gay couples; or support the military; or even pay taxes. Good grief–this doesn’t even affect how leaders are chosen within LDS units. It’s your choice, but by not contributing you are not helping LDS boy scouts who will become future leaders of the church. Perhaps you are reacting out of disappointment and will reconsider. Then again, perhaps you know better than church leaders who continue to support BSA and you were just looking for an excuse not to contribute.

      1. William Peterson

        “A scout is . . . friendly, courteous, kind . . .” even towards those he disagrees with. Ask yourself, are your comments consistent with those ideals? Sarcasm, burning straw men, and belittling others points of view don’t fit my understanding of those terms.

        There is a real difference between purchasing goods and services, supporting the military and paying taxes on the one hand, and making voluntary donations on the other hand. And there is no legitimate argument that deciding not to make a friends of scouting donation is tantamount to not following the prophet. That’s sensationalism. Last I checked, there was no commandment, directive or instruction that church members must donate to friends of scouting. It’s a free will thing.

        More to the point, however, if your goal is to encourage people to support scouting financially, I suggest you try a kinder, gentler approach. I doubt very many people have every chosen to support an organization because they, or their points of view, were criticized and belittled. Seems a bit counterproductive to me.

        Personally, I am inclined to respect those who choose not to donate to scouting because of the change in membership policy, just as I am inclined to respect those who will continue to do so. It’s a value choice, just like scouting’s decision to change its membership policy. What I am not inclined to respect are unfriendly, discourteous, and unkind remarks like those I am responding to.

      1. Maria MilliganMaria Milligan

        Each comment gets approved by a blog administrator before being officially posted. This ensures that we don’t get spam or personal attacks on the blog. So if you don’t see your comment pop up right away, don’t worry. We usually go through to approve pending comments several times a day, so it will show up soon.

  2. Joel Zabriskie

    Elder Leavitt indicates about 1% of the Council’s annual budget goes to BSA’s National office for services. if I donate $100, then $99 stays here to fund the needs of the Council. I like to think that those funds help accomplish the objectives of the Six Pillars. That seems like a pretty good return on my investment in our youth. I will continue to accept the invitation by the First Presidency of the LDS Church to donate to the annual Friends of Scouting campaign. I encourage all to join me.

  3. Curtis Arrington

    Dear friends who feel like not contributing:

    Please at least read Melany Gardner’s article in this same newsletter if you aren’t persuaded by an Area Seventy. She outlines perfectly well the things we all ought to be considering in this very difficult time. I support the Prophet, who is one of the BSA executive committee. I support Scouting, and will continue to contribute.

  4. Edgar Tooley

    Great comments Dale and Joel. Scouting is still a great way to help boys become responsible men.

  5. Anon

    I appreciate the UNPC’s attempt to be transparent about how their finances are used. Any non-profit organization that asks for public donations should be highly transparent if they want to retain the public’s trust. And of course, this transparency should reveal that funds are being used wisely. I am confident that UPNC is not misusing funds. But it would be more convincing if I could better understand where the funds are spent. Extremely broad categories like “Direct Service & Program Support” are not very convincing. I’d like to know what proportion of funds go toward executive salaries, full-time staff salaries, seasonal salaries, building maintenance, utilities, camp expenditures, etc.

    Lately I have chosen not to donate to Friends of Scouting because I don’t see how funds donated to the council have a direct benefit to local troops. I accept that the money is not being siphoned away to pay the (exorbitant) salaries of national executives. But where is it going? When I go to the Scout shop, I have to pay high prices for anything I buy. If I participate in training events, I often have to pay. If the boys attend a council activity, they have to pay. From this article, it sounds like some of the Friends of Scouting money is subsidizing Scout camps. But where is the rest going? A lot of it goes to paying salaries apparently. I’m OK with people making a living, but how do their efforts benefit the boys in my local troop? Maybe I’m not looking hard enough, but I don’t see the connection. What I do see are people in my local ward who volunteer a considerable amount of time each week to work with the young men on an individual basis (and to put up with bureaucratic policies and an archaic computer system).

    The closest connection between UNPC and my local troops is perhaps the round tables. But apparently my local leaders felt these were unhelpful because now my stake is doing its own round table (conducted by volunteers).

    If the UNPC execs could be more explicit about how the money is being used and show me how those funds benefit boys in my local troop, I would be more convinced to invest my hard-earned money in the UNPC. At the BSA level, it would help to convince me if I saw that someone was updating the computer system, removing unnecessary bureaucracy (for example, reducing paperwork to get an Eagle approved), and reducing overlap between the Scouting requirements and what the boys learn in school.

    Whether or not I am ever convinced to donate to Friends of Scouting again, I’ll still happily donate my time and energy to my local troop.

    1. Marta

      Thank you Mr. Petersen for verbalizing my feelings exactly! Thank you!
      We are being poisoned by degrees by the BSA. The twists of the adversary to deceive and lure us away from the truth.
      The truth is…. We need families, leaders AND organizations who will LIVE EVERY DAY BY the values of the Scout Oath and Law in word and deed! Threats and accusations are NOT in accordance with these long held Scouting Principals!

    2. Marta

      I have served on District staff for many years in our district in many capacities including: Roundtable Staff and Commissioner for 7 years, Day Camp Staff and Director, Eagle Committee Member, etc.. I just feel I should share that the budget for Roundtable AND Day Camp was completely donated and voluntary! As the Roundtable Commissioner (Volunteer) the paid scout executives rarely showed up to help prior to the meeting. They came to the meeting, but they did not help make it happen! I was given two books per month from the Scout Store to raffle off. ALL the other items shared at Roundtable came from my donations or the donations of others! They were not paid for by any BSA budget monies! That is all done by volunteers! Please show them your appreciation and support! They are volunteers! It would be an education for many to learn who is paid by the BSA and what leaders are volunteers and what materials are donated!!! Ask. Learn. I too would like to know where Friends of Scouting monies actually go! It is NOT to Day Camp support or to Roundtable! Personal long term experience!

  6. Darryl AlderDarryl Alder

    Annually our budget is prepared by a team of volunteer Scouters. It is then shared with each registered Chartered Organization Representative in the Council (1600 LDS Wards and 50 other partners). Then it is approved or not by that body at the Annual Business Meeting.
    These records are public and available from our CFO, Joel Zaberiskie.
    Stop by the Orem Service Center and we will be happy to share details

    1. William Peterson


      I am a chartered organization representative for one of the few non-LDS chartered units in the council. With due respect, I take issue with your assertions of transparency. Nobody has shared anything with me concerning council finances for two years. I did not receive an invitation to this year’s council business meeting, and last year (2014) the invitation came just a few days before the meeting — too late for me to arrange to attend.

      In 2013, the last time I received any information about council finances, there was no more detail that what was shared in this blog post. I agree with Anon. The information is shared at such a high level that it is not useful in helping to determine how council funds are being used to benefit youth. That said, it is certainly an improvement over several years ago, so at least your moving in the right direction

  7. Jason Baker

    My issue as a church leader and young men’s leader I feel we pay a lot for these camps. I just don’t see the value always. I went to Tracy Wigwam ( each parent had to pay $40 and the ward paid the rest). I only saw one male leader. The boys or employees of the camp were paid very little. There were no improvements made for years. Most things were in disrepair. I honestly don’t see the value for the cost. Also of the BSA camps cost a large sum for each scout and the camps are rarely improved over the years. Your advice to that? This has been the biggest pain to collect for Friends of Scouting. The worse is to collect from those have been church leadership or scouting and are not “scout diehards.” They don’t see the value.

    1. Scott MajorScott Major

      You might find this article interesting:
      It answers questions from the point of view of the American Camp Association. Although most BSA camps are not ACA accredited but BSA accredited, you will find some of the details interesting about the true cost of operating a camp. When a participate can come to a BSA camp in our area for around $300 and the national average according to the ACA is $690, you have to see why people are paid “very little” or things are in disrepair.

  8. Marta

    Mr. Major,
    The article you referenced is comparing Day Camps run for a profit, to BSA camps. I note that the BSA camps have the advantage of leaders coming with the boys to provide leadership for NO cost to the BSA camp! Those leaders come as volunteers! Once again, BSA claiming the benefit of providing something that is actually a gift of it’s local volunteers making a difference for the boys they know and care about. Thank you Scout Masters and their families for making the sacrifices for my sons to learn and grow!
    In Southern Utah, our boys have a limited number of camps to choose from. The Quail Creek Camp has been built mostly by Eagle Scout projects and the volunteers who make them happen. Thank you Eagle Scouts and business leaders who have chosen to offer help via materials and equipment to boys seeking to make a difference in our community! Thank you!
    Our Scouting District was charged with building the new commissary for Thunder Ridge camp a few years back. Once again volunteer time and monies were given to accomplish that goal. Thank you Volunteers and donating businesses for making a difference for our boys! That was not Friends of Scouting dollars that made that improvement. Let’s give credit where credit is due.
    Robert Baden-Powell must have seen the future when he warned over a hundred years ago: “In training our Scouts, keep the higher aims in the forefront. . . . Don’t let the technical outweigh the moral. Field efficiency, back woodsmanship, camping, hiking, Good Turns, jamboree comradeship are all means, not the end. The end is CHARACTER with a purpose.”
    Is BSA about money or about shaping and guiding young men?
    Are the governing bodies of BSA modeling “Character?”

    1. Scott MajorScott Major

      It is without a doubt a fact that without the many volunteers that put in many hours, money, blood, sweat and tears, many camps wouldn’t function! It is also a fact that there are many costs associated with a camp that are not always seen. It is a combined effort from the Council and from the volunteers that make it all happen. Working TOGETHER is what makes it work. It should never be an “us against them” argument.

  9. James

    While I have always supported the FOS drive in the past with substantial donations, I do not intend to contribute going forward. It is not a matter of “not following the Prophet”. This is certainly not a doctrinal or worthiness issue. It is a matter of voting with our wallet. The LGBT agenda is to eliminate religious freedom in America. Robert Gates made the decision to take the easy way out and just say, “Sooner or later we will lose the legal battle, so just quit now”. In essence he just left the battle to the sponsoring organizations to fight while still asking them for financial support. Sine the Boy Scouts is by charter a “volunteer” organization, no organization (including the Church) is going to be able to legally defend a position of not allowing an openly gay individual to work in the scout program. Secondly, I am not going to send my sons to a Scout camp where there may be gay leaders. And, how do you control that when some sponsoring units will allow them? The argument that the chartering units can take a position opposed by the National Organization and prevail is ludicrous.

  10. Craig

    I cannot believe we are having this discussion (gays in scouting). Pro-LGBT interests are sweeping the nation. We must slow the train down. Ron Burt, you are right on.

  11. Rocky Ruud

    Problem 1 for me….

    Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who became the BSA’s president
    in May 2014, said at the time that he personally would have favored
    ending the ban on gay adults, but he opposed any further debate after
    the Scouts’ policymaking body upheld the ban. Reopening the issue,
    Gates said, “would irreparably fracture and perhaps even provoke a
    formal, permanent split in this movement — with the high likelihood
    neither side would subsequently survive on its own.”

    The President of the BSA is in favor of having gay leaders be teachers
    in the scouting program. When there is a new leader who is morally
    strait then I will donate to the FOS.

    Problem 2 for me…

    Gay organizers plan to complete an application in the coming weeks and
    are hoping to have a troop up and running by fall. The Boy Scouts’
    Great Salt Lake Council said in a statement that it appreciates the
    group’s interest, and the group will have to submit its application to
    the national office for approval.

    We are watching to see if the application is approved. If the
    application is approved then these gay troops can mingle with us in
    our scout camps, court of honors, etc.

    Solution 1

    I’m donating my funds this year to the local ward young
    men’sorganization. They will be using that money for camping
    activities and completing their Duty to God. A great program of the
    LDS Church.

    Final Comment:
    This whole thing about the BSA is heartbreaking. I am so upset about it.


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