For a variety of reasons the Clemson/Oconee County Scout Packs/Troops have had an increasingly difficult time in recent years. The reasons are primarily financial but include losing several sponsors who, in the past, had provided meeting facilities, volunteer leaders, storage facilities, and treasury facilities. Without this sponsor support many existing, and potential scout members in our community simply cannot afford to participate in scout activities.
The Clemson/Oconee County District of the Palmetto BSA District consist of 11 Cub Scout Packs and 10 Boy Scout troups. Of these, 9 Cub and 7 Boy Scout troups are in Oconee County (75%). A few troups did not lose their sponsor and are doing fine, however, most did lose their sponsor and are struggling to survive. Over th past few years the district has lost a third of its membership and lost one cub pack primarily due to the expense of participating in the scout program and events.
HOW DOES SCOUTING MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Only 4 in 100 children will become a scout but our leaders in business, the military, religion, and politics were scouts. While only 4% of our nations' youth were scouts, 65% of college graduates were scouts, 26 of 29 of the first astronauts were Eagel Scouts and 133 of the 233 total astronauts were scouts. These facts provide overwhelming evidence of the programs scouting offers builds character, pride in accomplishments, interpersonal skills, and the ability to lead.\
The start up cost to join the scouts is roughly $100 then $1-200 for equipment (camping, etc) then $30-$40 per month assuming the scout participates in most events. In the past sponsors provided dedicated volunteers, meeting/activity locations, purchasing and carrying fixed cost (tents, etc), and treasury functions. For those troups who have lost their sponsors these expenses now fall to the scouts until another sponsor is found.
In a typical year a scout will:
-Attend three meetings per month
-Participate in 6-12 weekend events (e.g. camping)
-Work on merit badges every week
-Work a community service project once a quarter
-Participate in a Scout Fund Raising program once a quarter (e.g. selling popcorn)
When you consider the average annual income for an Oconee County Family is $41,000 (versus $65,000 for the U.S.) and $36,000 for a woman (2016) the cost of scouting is a hardship for many families. When you factor in 25% of families in Oconee County live below the poverty line and 40% of children under 18 live in single parent homes it eliminates even more boys from participating in the scouts, particularly families with 2 or more boys.
JONAH SCOUT SUPPORT
In 2015 a group of five men active in supporting the county scout program decided to take funding into their own hands. They created a tax deductable 501(c)3 to fund as many fo the local scout needs/events as possible and, where appropriate, assisting individual scouts. Mr. Steve Rushton joined this group in 2017 and is now the president. The idea for the name, Jonah, comes from the biblical Jonah and the Whale, where Jonah is the local scout chapter. This small group of men have been volunteers and persoally funded event expenses/shortfalls like the Pinewood Derby, campouts, etc.
The 501(c)3 is official, has a charter, and a board of directors to prioritize and approve funding. Since 2015 Jonah Scout has funded a first class pinewood derby, and helped fund the Cub Scout Day camp, BSA Camporees, camping equipment, etc. If, in any year, per the charter, the funding account exceeds requirements the excess funds will be donated to the Blue Ridge Scout Council.
Between now and December 2019 we have set a goal of $10,000 to be used for funding specific needs:
-Renovating a donated storage building
-Deficit funding for Camporees, Pinewood Derby, etc
-Funding 2 scouts from each pack/troop to attend Leadership Training
-Match funding for summer camps, high adventure, etc
-Funding needy scouts to attend activities they cannot afford