Monday, January 9, 2017

A Scout is Thrifty

The Scout handbook states that "A Scout is thrifty. A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property."

The Boy Scout Trail states it well, 
"Of the twelve points in the Scout Law, I imagine that Thrifty is the one most difficult to quantify. A Scout in an affluent community may consider himself thrifty by saving his $25 allowance for two weeks to buy a video game while a few Scouts in a less wealthy neighborhood might pool the change they collected from turning in soda bottles to buy a bag of candy. Being rich or poor does not define the ability to be thrifty or not. A rich person can be thrifty without being a Scrooge and a poor person can be thrifty while still sharing what he has."

One of the reasons we have fundraisers is so not to burden our Scouts' families with the cost of every activity he may wish to participate in.  If he doesn't bear part of the responsibility (I like to call it "sweat equity") for helping to fund the adventures he wants to partake, he has no vested interest.  While it may be easier for us to just write a check and pay their way, it teaches them nothing about working and saving to reach their goal, and everything about feeling entitled to simply get what they want.  When they have a vested interest and understand how hard they've worked, they start to understand the idea of value and investment and ultimately, the reward for hard work.

Our annual popcorn fundraiser is a chance to provide Scouts the opportunity to practice not only the art of sales, but also that of communication, rejection, goal setting and reward. Being able to sell Camp Cards to pay their way to Day Camp and attend Pack overnighters that might otherwise prove to be a little cost-prohibitive, is an excellent lesson in setting a goal and investing in their program.  When they aren't given a blank check for everything they want but have to learn to put forth effort and prioritize to acquire what they want, they are taught perseverance and life skills they can't learn elsewhere at such an early age.

At the Webelos level (when the dens are permitted camp on their own) and are taught the patrol method of Boy Scouts (meal planning for camp outs and learning to shop within a set budget), scouts learn the importance of staying WITHIN that budget and completing the task of making it work by being thrifty.  Paying their way is such an important part of their Scouting experience.  Our hope is that our Pack families understand that the need to participate in fundraising isn't merely to raise funds, but to teach the boys valuable life lessons and help us all continue to have a vested interest in the program.
Being thrifty isn't always about money, however.  Being thrifty can be about resources - turning off the faucet when you're brushing your teeth, turning off lights when you leave a room, keeping the doors shut in the summer, using what you have until it is no longer functional rather than buying the newest model just because so-and-so has one or even repurposing materials rather than buying new.  Not wasting resources like water and electricity is called conservation.  Conservation is SO important to our world and we will continue to make it an integral part of the Scouting movement.  

Our spring fundraiser this year will be used to pay for and fund the furnishing of our Pack's camping trailer.  Our goal is to outfit this trailer with camping supplies so that each den has what they need for our Pack events enabling them to get the most of their Scouting experience without having to be burdened with purchasing camping equipment that they may not always need (camp stoves, lanterns, Dutch ovens, etc.) Being thrifty will be an important part of this process because we anticipate these materials lasting years. Therefore, our expectation is that the boys learn the process for taking care of them. This means that they are helping to conserve pack resources which will help with future Pack purchases instead of the Pack having to continually repair or replace things that aren't taken care of.  

I also completely agree with this sentiment as well, 
As Scouts and citizens in the most wasteful country in the world, we have a real challenge to raise our level of thrift. We are much like the child that is given everything and comes to expect everything. We consume more, conserve less, and expect better than we have. We know we should change, but few of us do.  Even worse, we have come to accept debt as a way of life in this country. A thrifty Scout should expect nothing and work for everything he desires. 
Whether rich or poor, a Scout that is thrifty learns that by adhering to the other points of the Scout Law, his thriftiness is also part of being helpful, friendly, courteous, and kind. Sharing of one's own doesn't necessarily mean money as much as doing what you can, with what you have, to make the world a better place. 

A Scout is thrifty.

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