Another Look at Friends of Scouting

I don’t give Friends of Scouting much thought throughout the year.  In fact, I never think about it until the campaign comes around and forces me to wonder what everyone else wonders.  The bad news is that I still don’t have a clear understanding of how FOS benefits my unit even after another year of being completely immersed in the Scouting program, committed to in-council camps, a regular at monthly Roundtables and now preparing to be on staff for an upcoming Wood Badge course.  The good news is… well, I’m still looking for that.  I wish I could resolve in my own head the same concern everyone else has.  With that kind of clarity about FOS, it sure would make it easier to answer the “Where does the money go” question as my scouts and I solicit the neighborhood for this donation.

This whole topic brings me back to the pie chart I talked about before.  Let’s take another stab at that 64% of funds invested in “Programs, Activities, Training and Service” and cover the areas I skipped in my first post on this subject.

“Advancement and records programs”
I wonder how many FOS dollars get spent here.  We buy our own books, guides, planners and patches for rank advancement and merit badges.  The family pays for everything as their son becomes an Eagle Scout.  What am I missing?  What other advancement-related stuff are we talking about that would need help from FOS?

As for a “records program”, would that be referring to ScoutNET?  I’m not aware of any other records program that would be associated with Advancement.  If that’s the case, how much funding is provided at a National level to support this need for record keeping?  Could it be that each council pays a subscription fee of sorts to use National-provided services that would cover the ongoing maintenance of that system?  I have no connection to my local Scout office to know how BSA-internal works.  However, I do know that I have to pay for a software solution myself to help me track and manage my own Troop’s progress since nothing is available through any official BSA entity.  Which then begs the question: where does my potential FOS donation better serve the needs of my own Troop?

“Training for adult [and youth] leaders”
What kind of expenses would involve FOS here?  I would assume the training programs offered online, such as Fast Start or Youth Protection for adults, are paid for through National BSA funding out of Texas.  Local training courses for adults like Wood Badge and Powder Horn or NYLT, On Belay and Kodiak for youth all have participant fees.  In fact, the Wood Badge Administrative Guide states that “participant fees should cover all course expenses”.  It further notes that “staff members must pay their own way”.  Any other local training I’ve ever attended has been carried out by volunteers!  Soooooo, where exactly do FOS funds come into play on adult and youth leader training?

“Youth programs and activities: Scout jamborees, district camporees, and Klondike Derbys”
Every one of these activities listed has a cost per kid amount that is to be paid before attending!  We pay registration fees for Jamboral, Camporee and Klondike.  In addition, the “staff” consists of hundreds of volunteers who receive no stipend of any kind for all the time and effort they put into these events.  Where does FOS get applied in this scenario?  When we pay these registration fees, it is possible that we’re only paying a subsidized cost for those activities?

Jamboree is also a whole nother thing when it comes to cost. Scouts and adult leaders are required to put up some significant cash in order to participate in this National event… $3,000 per participant to be exact, for the trip our council is planning.  If any FOS funds are being applied to a Jamboree, I’d like to know what for.  My hope is that it’s not being used for the scholarships that are made available for kids who need financial assistance to attend.

All this makes me think about the cost of rechartering… which is yet another subject.

“Monthly Roundtable and program ideas to assist adult leaders”
Like what?  Are we talking about the printing of flyers and advertisements for upcoming activities?  Or for the outlines that are passed out for next month’s Troop Program Guides??  What is spent from FOS in this category?

“Service Center and Scout Shops”
Please tell me FOS money does not go towards supporting the Scout Shops.  Please tell me these facilities pay their own expenses through the items sold in those stores.  I know you can catch a good deal from certain promotions once in a while, but a full scout uniform at full price isn’t exactly cheap.

If “Service Center” as it relates to FOS refers to the support needed to pay the people who work for our local units and districts, then we get into the topic of professional scouters and how much they make.  I know there are many opinions out there about salaries in scouting, so I think I’ll end on that note for now and consider writing about that another time…

Until then, what are your thoughts about Friends of Scouting?

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4 Responses to Another Look at Friends of Scouting

  1. Mark says:

    Hi, any progress on those answers to your FOS question?

  2. MK says:

    My husband was curious about where the funds go as well, so he actually looked up the tax returns, which are public. He noticed that the CEO and VP’s (I think that’s what they’re called) are getting paid VERY well! The CEO makes over a million dollars a year. Since seeing that he has decided to put the money that used to go to FOS into a donation for his local ward scouting fund.

  3. Brian says:

    You have posed a number of excellent questions that your Scout Executive will be happy to address for you. Contact your District Executive for more information on “Where” Friend of Scouting Funds are allocated.

    In Scouting,
    -Texas D.E

    • Scoutmaster says:

      The last time I asked our DE about FOS (as mentioned in this post), he got all defensive and agitated by my curiosity. The good news is that my district will be combing with two others this Spring and we’ll be getting a new DE in the process… maybe I’ll approach the new guy on this subject and hope for a more supportive conversation with him.

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