Recently, there have been a number of articles about the cost of Scouting. As President of the Great Salt Lake Council, many of these inquiries have been addressed to me. For one thing, I am probably the wrong person to talk to about the cost of Scouting. I have five daughters. I not only know the cost of Scouting, but let me tell you about the cost of cheerleading – and cheer costumes -- of dance lessons, and dance costumes, and entries to dance recitals. I am not opposed to those, particularly because I have seen how each of these activities has made a profound effect in the lives, the talents and the self-esteem of the little (and sometimes big) girls who participate.
As the topic was raised again the other day, I thought of my experience in Scouting – as a boy, and now as an adult leader. As a boy, I had the normal feelings of insecurity, of self-doubt and wondered about my self-worth. However, although our Scout program in Boise was less than optimal, I have thought about the value of being a patrol leader and learning to lead; of earning a merit badge and learning (1) a skill; (2) that I REALLY can do something of value; and (3) that I really am a person of worth; of memorizing the Scout Oath and Law and realizing the worth of moral values and standards in this great country of ours; of saluting the flag as a Cub Scout, and realizing, for the first time, why my dad feels so strongly for those values of freedom and liberty for which he fought in World War II, and which were the watch words of his life.
A commodity’s net value is often expressed price, less the cost. So while it is true that it takes money, facilities, skilled and visionary professionals, and devoted and trained volunteers to make the program work in the lives of the youth we serve, I like to focus the Scout Movement in terms of what it GIVES BACK to the community – the local, regional, state, national and world community. So, for starters, let’s list a few:
Finally, the value of the over 30,000 volunteers that serve in the Great Salt Lake Council. All of us, as Scouting volunteers, are normal, garden variety members of the community , who go to work each day, work hard, try to make a difference in our profession or trade and make enough to live on, to support our families, to give some back to our Church and community; and to save a little each month. We are school teachers and school principals; engineers; construction workers; small business owners; government workers; bankers; landscapers; airline employees; physicians, nurses and others involved in the health care field; real estate developers; insurance salesmen; convenience store and grocery store employees; air traffic controllers; policemen; firemen; lawyers and judges; carpenters; manufacturers and tradesmen; photographers, and the list goes on and on – 30,000 strong.
While many make significant amounts in their professions, to be conservative, I have chosen to use the average salary for a teacher in the state of Utah in 2010 – approximately $20 per hour -- to estimate the monetary value of the service rendered. Most Scoutmasters spend AT LEAST 10 hours per week in Scout Troop Meetings, preparation for the meetings, Scoutmaster Conferences, training meetings, preparing for monthly camp outs, informal interviews with and visits to his Scouts, reviewing materials, etc. While some spend more and some spend less – and I have not counted 40 hours for a week-long camp – I think that 10 hours per week is a fairly normal amount of time spent by a volunteer Scout leader. Ten hours times 50 weeks (some Scoutmasters only get one week of vacation, because they spend one week with the Scouts) =500 volunteer hours per year PER VOLUNTEER. That amount times the 30,000 volunteers = 15,000,000 million man hours devoted to providing a quality Scouting experience to the Council’s over 73,000 Scouts, including providing leadership experiences, teaching them moral and ethical values that will help them make responsible decisions over the period of their lives – and providing role models for today’s youth – at a time when they sorely need heroes and examples. Multiply 15,000,000 man-hours by $20.00 per hour and you come up with $300,000,000 in volunteer service being provided to help today’s youth be “Prepared. For Life!”
Someone recently asked me if Scouting today was as relevant and needed as it was 50 or 100 years ago. I responded with a resounding, “Yes! It is not only more relevant, but never in the history of the world has there been a greater need for the timeless values that Scouting teaches. And never has there been a greater need for the proper ethical, moral and physical education of boys, to help them be prepared to be men who can lead with ethical and moral values.” Tom Brokaw was once quoted as saying: “In this country it’s relatively easy to make a living, but it’s tough to make a difference.” Thanks to all the dedicated professionals and volunteers in the Great Salt Lake Council who strive daily to make a difference in the life of a boy. I’m honored to be associated in this great work with each of you.
Next time, I might reflect a little about the value of Council Camps in the health and well-being of our youth…or possibly something else. We’ll see. Until then, Good Scouting and Make it a GREAT day!