Committee Tools to Improve Behavior

Running a troop committee can be difficult at times. The purpose of the committee is to support the leaders and scouts. Unfortunately just about everyone has different ideas about what that means. By figuring out the framework for decisions before they become a fight, a lot of work, emotion, and bad blood can be avoided.

There are three groups of people who need reminders about how to behave, from time to time: 1) Scouts, 2) Adults, and 3) Guests. Most people from young to old will make reasonably sound decisions, however, we humans are not so good at making good decisions when we are tired, frustrated, or feeling particularly competitive. These are three situations that come up in Scouting a lot. When tempers get heated or bullying breaks out or a meal is ruined after a long day, behavior decisions can deteriorate. Troop Committee policy needs to deal with at least three aspects of behavior for everyone:
  1. The standard for behavior
  2. The consequences for bad behavior
  3. Who has authority to enforce standards and consequences
Fortunately for all of us, Scouting provides three standards that can be used for behavior: The Scout Oath, the Scout Law, and the Outdoor Code. Committees that adopt these three aspects of scouting as their behavior standards make a clear statement of what is expected from everyone, including adults and guests. Once everyone knows the standard, it is time to make the consequences clear.

Behavior consequences are the result of failing to follow the behavior standard. In general, there should be a lot of room for applying consequences and nothing should be considered a necessary consequence. All situations are different and all the people involved are different so the consequences need to be considered carefully by those with authority to implement them, which leads us to the third aspect.

Who has authority to enforce behavior standards and apply consequences in your unit? If you are not sure, there is room for improvement. Generally, senior scouts and any trained adult should be considered an authority. By empowering trained leaders as representatives of the behavior standard they know that they can take serious action when it is needed, and use softer approaches when those are warranted. 

Here is an example motion to consider:
MOTION: I move that the Guide to Safe Scouting, Scout Oath, Scout Law, and Outdoor Code be adopted as the standards of behavior for all scouts, adults, and guests at troop activities. The consequences for poor behavior may include coaching, a Scoutmaster Conference, removal from an activity, and other scout-appropriate consequences. Though the entire troop community is expected to contribute to making the troop a safe place for everyone, the authority and responsibility to address poor safety and poor behavior is given to the Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, and all Registered Adults. Parents and guardians are expected to accept (though not necessarily agree with) the decisions of those in authority with regard to maintaining safety and behavior standards and to support troop leaders as needed in this regard.

I am sure many of you reading this have similar (or very different) policies for behavior. Please take a minute to dig them up and add them to the comments section so that we can have a hearty discussion on this topic.


5 Ways to Support Scouts in Need

Scouting attracts families from all backgrounds and situations. When a family is struggling financially scouting can be an extra stress on the family and the scout or family may or may not ask for financial assistance. Regardless of a request, here are five ways the troop can help the scout.

Teach the scout to run personal fundraisers

Fundraising opportunities are all around us, folks just do not look for them. A simple Google search for "individual fundraiser ideas" brings back a ton of results. With a little effort your scout can be receiving donations for themselves, separate from any troop fundraiser. 

Here are some personal fundraising ideas:
  • Collect aluminum and take it to a recycling center that pays by the pound
  • Send letters to friends and relatives asking for a donation (Google can point you to a lot of great tips for this sort of letter)
  • Invite the neighbors to dinner in return for a donation
  • Bake cookies and give them to neighbors for a donation
  • Run a corner lemonade stand for a donation, don't forget to make large, readable signs
Note that while fundraising as an individual Scouts cannot wear the scout uniform since they are not fundraising for the Boy Scouts of America.

Teach scouts how to make money

This is the "go get a job" item on the list. There are countless ways a young man, even an 11 year old, can earn money around the neighborhood or in their communities. With a little effort the scout will see the results of their work and know exactly what it will take to get to their goal. This is very different from fundraising... this is income.

Some ideas for younger scouts:
  • Mow lawns and complete yard work
  • Have a garage sale
  • Sell unused stuff on EBay
  • Be a TaskRabbit
  • Do other people's (and neighbor's) chores
  • Sell something like first aid kits, fire extinguishers, CO2 detectors, or the like
Note that while working as an individual Scouts cannot wear the scout uniform since they are not acting on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America.

Provide for some activities in the troop budget

I know a troop that provides for one significant activity each month that is free for all scouts and registered adults that want to attend. They make this happen by fundraising or by dues that support the troop general fund and then adding a line item to the annual budget. The line item covers all participation fees, food, equipment rentals, and transportation. This method lets everyone in the troop participate in one monthly activity without needing to pay.

This is a great way to support the troop community through the normal course of business.

Operate a clothing and gear bank

Scouts grow, a lot. They also go through gear, fast. The side-effect is that families must find uniforms, clothing, equipment, and personal gear several times throughout a scouts career. A great way to reuse the stuff already in the troop community is to operate a clothing and gear bank. This is really, really, simple.

Here is what you need:
  • An adult to operate the bank
  • Scouts to staff the bank while it is "open"
  • A place to store the items in the bank
  • A pen and paper system to track inventory (this isn't really necessary)
Here is how it works:
  • Scouts and families with clothing and equipment are encouraged to donate it to the troop when the scout is too big or leaves scouting
  • Donations are considered and either accepted or rejected by the adult in charge
  • Scouts that are in need of new clothing or gear come to the bank when it is open and can take what they need
  • There is no need to track "deposits" or "withdrawals"
If you want to be able to provide a tax-deductible receipt for donations, work with the chartered organization representative to determine if they will accept items that are donated to the troop and, if so, how they want records to be kept. This will add paperwork, though also provide a benefit to donors.

Directly support a scout in need

As a troop, some budget can be set aside to support scouts in need. This method of supporting scouts has a variety of benefits and considerations. The primary benefit is that the community is supporting its members. Some of the considerations are:
  • What policy will be used by the committee to determine need
  • What amounts and terms of sponsorship will be followed
  • How will the privacy of the family be maintained if they ask for privacy
  • Does the full committee discuss the situation or does a sub-committee handle these requests (think about privacy considerations and logistics)
  • How are the policy and expectations communicated to the troop community

Wrap Up

Enough cannot be said about involving scouts in budgeting and figuring out how much troop fundraising should go to scouts in need is an excellent topic for discussion as part of that process.

Notice that the personal fundraising and get-to-work items both will require support from the parents as the Scout works to pay their own way. Notice I didn't say that the parent will need to help... Scouting is about the Scout so make sure to take the opportunity to teach the scout how to get results. Parents working harder for a fully capable young man is not what this is about.

Regardless of how your troop or organization decides to support scouting families that need financial assistance, be aware of the human part of the situation. When money is tight it can be very stressful on adults. It can also be very hard to ask for help.


3 Considerations For Making Money

When it comes to what your troop can do, nothing is as empowering or limiting as the ability to raise funds. Money and finance and accounting are topics that our young men generally do not get trained on in school or at home, so Scouts is a great place. From my perspective there are three things to consider when evaluating a troop fundraising portfolio:

  1. Is it repeatable
  2. Does the payoff justify the effort
  3. Is it diversified
I'll take just a couple minutes to cover each.

Repeatable Fundraisers

The reason this makes the list is that Troops need ongoing funding, not just one-time shots in the arm. A one time gig here and there isn't so bad for specific fundraising (to support Philmont, Seabase, and treks) needs but this will not help the troop create an ongoing budget that is sustainable. I know a troop that runs three annual fundraisers that each bring in a couple thousand dollars and one quarterly fundraiser that brings in about $300 for the year. Now that latter one leads us to the next topic.


The ideal fundraiser takes a little effort and has a lot of profit when considering percentage of sales and the time required to execute the fundraiser. This is a page out of business 101 where as a business person you should focus on what makes the best money and drop the rest. I'll cover a good and bad example next.

First, a bad example: A troop runs a quarterly aluminum drive. The scrap price of aluminum is historically low and so a truck full of aluminum results in about $75. The effort required was not too bad but when considering time and cost to collect the aluminum, get to the recycling station, and get the bags ripped open and such, this really only results in about $10 per hour. THIS IS NOT WORTH IT!

Next, a good example: A troop executes a Mother's Day plant sale. The troop has a good relationship with a local grower who sells by the flat and gives a 45% to 50% commission depending on the item. Scouts canvas the community and the people they know to generate sales, by the flat (to get a higher purchase price). All orders are paid in advance. All customers pick up their order on a specific day and time. Now, this is a good fundraiser due to the item price, and return on time. Also, if the troop or individual scouts find new ways to get customers, the fundraiser can easily grow. 

Now these two lead us to the next topic which is diversification, which, as you will see, is important.


A troop that does a single fundraiser is in a precarious position. I know of a troop that executed one fundraiser each year, a coupon book sale, and one year the supplier decided to stop providing the books. This caused a decent amount of chaos for the adult leadership since they had to find another fundraising option in time to keep the troop operating. 

I strongly recommend that your troop operate at least two fundraising ventures. Even if you have worked the troop into a great position with a monthly fundraiser that generates all the funds you need. Diversification is food for:
  • Handling change
  • Teaching scouts multiple fundraising options
  • Giving scouts varied money experiences


So there you have it. Hopefully you have some things to consider when it comes to the fundraisers executed by your troop. Do not be afraid to start new fundraisers in search of better ones. Also, be brave enough to stop the fundraisers that are not worth the time. Feel free to add your comments on what works and what doesn't. I really enjoy hearing about your troops and situations and I am happy to provide ideas if you want them.

YIS, Jeff