Boy Scouts face financial challenges - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Boy Scouts face financial challenges


Nationwide, fewer young boys are joining the Boy Scouts.  In fact, just within the past year, there are 100,000 fewer Cub Scouts.  Some local groups, including the Winnebago Scouts Council of North Central Iowa, are bucking that trend.  But some big budgetary challenges remain.

Camp Ingawanis in rural Bremer County sits quiet on a winter day.  But in the summer, Boy Scouts and several other community groups keep the campground full.  The big piece of property, along with another campground the Scouts own near Marble rock, aren't easy to maintain.

"It's the soft costs, the things that affect the economy, such as our camp overhead and the costs of maintaining and keeping vehicles and buildings heated and all those kinds of things, that are not always in our control," said Todd Wordel, executive director of the Boy Scouts Winnebago Council.

So operating the combined 1,000 acres at the council's two campsites costs about $75,000 annually.  For years, the Winnebago Council has subsidized those costs.  But starting next year, that won't be allowed under new Boy Scouts of America national guidelines.

"So we have to move right away to build some sustainable models in our camping operation right here in 2012," Wordel said.

The Winnebago Council's appointed a task force to look at every alternative for cutting costs. It could hike the fees charged to outside groups for using the campgrounds.  One or both of the camps could even be closed, with the possibility of purchasing one smaller piece of ground and creating a new, more modern campsite.  But that's a tough sell.

"Here we are in 2012 with a camp that was built for kids in the 50's and 60's.  So it may not be feasible from a cost standpoint to reinvest in those same facilities.  So they're examining that, too.  But there's a lot of sweat equity into those camps, and I think this study committee recognizes that and respects that," said Wordel.

In addition, the scouting office in Waterloo has already reduced staffing levels and could be forced to make more cutbacks or move into a smaller office.  Bottom line—the goal is to make the budget manageable without making the group more expensive for Scouts and their families.

The Winnebago Council says, like many other non-profits, its budget has been hurt by rising costs coupled with fewer donations.  That's causing the Scouts to rely more on fundraising dollars, while looking to new funding sources and recruiting more members to keep the organization sustainable.  The council's budget task force will release its preliminary cost-cutting recommendations to the executive board in April.

You can learn more about the cost-cutting task force here.

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