If Your Unit’s New Year’s Resolution is to achieve the Journey to Excellence Gold Level, then money is a necessary element to your success. Let’s look at the criteria to attaining Gold Level.
1. Advancement – Increase the percentage of Scouts earning Rank
Part of the Boy Scout Program is advancement. It is vital to recognize Scouts for the levels they have accomplished. However, all of these advancements awards cost money. In talking with Units around the country, on average a typical Unit will spend $40-$50 per Scout on awards. Along with the rank advancement, Cub Scouts awards include Belt Loops and other patches. Boy Scouts not only have the rank patches, but Unit must purchase merit badges.
2. Retention – Improve retention rate
While there is not direct money needed for this item, retention is a result of training and program.
3. Membership – Increase membership by 10%
Unfortunately, the membership fee increased to $24 for 2014. This is up from $15 in 2013. If you have an increase in membership, the cost to the Unit increases.
4. Trained Leadership – Trained Unit Leader and Committee
The cost of training will depend from Council to Council. Some Councils charge for training while others provide this service free because of generous grants or other fundraising. For Troops, this cost could increase because at least one person must attend Wood Badge. This course can be from $200 to $400.
5. Outdoor Activities – Have a minimum number of outdoor activities throughout the year
For Cub Packs to reach their Goal they must have five outdoor activities. Boy Scout Troops must have 9 short term campouts throughout the year. The cost for these can range from a minimal amount to needing money for transportation, propane, food, site or event fees, and much more.
6. Camp – Increase the number of Scouts going to camp
This one seems obvious. Camp costs money. However, in a 2012 national survey of the Top 400 Units in popcorn sales, only 45% of Units include camp in their Unit Budget. This would mean that over 50% of Units have no plan to raise the money for their Scouts to attend camp. It does not mean that Scouts do not go to camp, it just means someone else is paying for it.
7. Service Project – Participate in a minimum number of service projects throughout the year
Hopefully, Units do not spend too much to do service projects. However, there can be hidden fees like transportation, hammers, paint, shovels, flyers, rope, etc. that may be needed to complete the project. Eagle Scout Service Project can fall into this category and many projects require donations for the materials to complete it.
8. Leadership Planning – Identify the Leadership to keep the Unit functioning
Finally, something that does not cost money.
9. Webelos-to-Scout Transition Plan – Have a plan to transition Webelos to Boy Scouts
Two items in a row that do not need money. However, this may not be true depending on how you run your program. My son’s Boy Scout Troop has a very organized Webelos Day where they set up stations that demonstrate regular activities the Unit does. Usually there is a rope tying station, compass station, fire building station and more. It does cost money for the supplies to run these stations.
10. Budget – Have a written budget before the start of the program year with Scouts input
While this does not cost money, this may be the most vital piece of equipment a Unit needs to operate successfully. This is the summary of all the income and expenses the Unit has. I cannot overemphasize the importance of completing this task.
11. Meetings – Conduct a minimum number of meetings for the youth and adults
Cub Scouts operate with Den and Pack Meetings. Boy Scouts have Troop Meetings and Courts of Honor. One item often overlooked when calculating costs is the equipment to run the program. Den Leaders can spend quite a bit of money depending on the activity planned. Pinewood Derby cars, Construction paper, glue, and paint are just a small list of items used by Cub Scouts. Boy Scouts need rope, twine, matches, maps, compass, first aid materials, and other items to run their program. In addition, Units must have a minimum number of parent meetings.
12. Fitness – A few meetings must include a physical component
This is the major new piece to the 2014 Journey to Excellence. Usually this would not cost money unless you plan to go to a pool, ice skate rink, or other location.
13. Charter Renewal Process – Get your Charter in on time and promote the MyScouting Tools site
Most people do not know there is a $20 Charter Fee the Unit must pay to the National Office. In addition, some Councils require Units to pay for Supplemental Insurance which is typically $1 per Scout.
My intent was not to scare people into thinking to be successful in Scouting it is all about money. However, it is import to know money is a necessary element to run a quality program. In a 2012 survey, if you include uniforms, the average cost for a Cub Scout is $240/year while the average cost for a Boy Scout is just over $500/year. In my opinion, this is a bargain every day of the week for the year-round leadership development program the Boy Scouts provide. Keeping all of the items of the Gold Level for Journey to Excellence in mind, the important first step is to discover your costs, then make a budget.