I'm extremely puzzled why the local Boy Scout council won't / can't disclose the budget of a recent 4 day day camp for cub scouts. Several parents have asked how our $100 / scout camp fee was spent. We did some rough math and as far as we can tell camp cost approx $40 / camper. The local council claims that they spent 90% of the fee on the actual camp.

Several parents have been asking for a copy of the budget and they refuse to give us a copy. I don't understand how you can't have an idea on how the money was sent / allocated to run the camp. Below is the response from council. I'm curious if this is normal and they keep saying that "Non-For Profit" accounting is different. We don't care how they report to the IRS we just want to know how our fees have been used.

Concerning the budget: There is no specific budget for the Day camp. All the camps are run under one budget to control expenses. As we discussed the other day with nonprofit accounting, I currently have nothing to show you. Once the event is officially closed, we will have a clearer picture of the issue.

Any feedback is appreciated. How can they run an event when they have no idea on the receivables/payables for the event.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is something you'll have to take up with them, or with their lawyers. – ChrisInEdmonton Jul 11 '18 at 19:49
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    I'm not sure that you have the ability to request specific accounting like this any more than you're empowered to ask an apple store employee where exactly your $700 is allocated for an iphone... $25 /day per participant seems reasonable to me on its face. – quid Jul 11 '18 at 19:51
  • We are part of the non-for profit. We actually raise funds for the council 30K last year. So we want to make sure are dues are being used wisely and our fund raising efforts are not being missed managed. It is different than the iphone it would be like Tim Cook asking how the money is allocated. The members are the boss of the council. – pehaada Jul 11 '18 at 19:53
  • @ChrisInEdmonton I'm asking if someone has some experience in non-for-profit accounting can explain why being a non for profit stops them from have a line item budget. – pehaada Jul 11 '18 at 19:55
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    In the US there isn't really any difference between not-for-profit accounting and for-profit accounting except for differences in how taxes are calculated and there's no equity in a not-for-profit. – Glen Pierce Jul 12 '18 at 16:21

Depending on the size of the council the budgeting of day camp isn't as simple as running a single 4 day camp. The council my sons were in ran more than a dozen camps events spread across parts of two states.

Some of the day camps were on BSA owned property, some were on family farms, some were on church property, and others on county parks. The price charged for each camper had to be uniform, even though the cost of each location was different. Each year they had to evaluate the locations, facilities and costs for the next year, with a goal not to lose money.

The budget had to cover the cost of renting the land, consumables, cost of equipment that is shared across all the camps. Don't forget costs such as for latrines and water.

In our local area one county park charges $6 a night for camping per person, another charges $9. That makes it hard for the council to run a camp for $10 a day per person. These parks also have day only fees, but they charge for the cubs, parents, and volunteers. They also have to rent the site for a day before and a day after to allow for setup and removal.

Much of the work is done by volunteers. There is generally an army of volunteers that are need to run the camps. They have to be trained in first aid, they also need to plan the events and locate materials. For archery and BB's they have to attend very specific training, those positions are always hard to fill. The availability of those positions generally determines how many camps can be run.

If there are profits they are plowed back into council activities. They are also used to replenish items such as arrows that are used in other camps.

So how do you get to influence the costs, get parents to volunteer at the district or council level.

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  • We are asking to see the costs. Why do they have to keep it a secret run a report from your accounting system that is all we are asking. I asked for 2017 since I realize that they may still be figuring out 2018. Maybe they didn't keep good records. If that is the case tell us a scout is honest. Just tell the pack they spent $100 on BBs and $200 on arrows. Be open and don't hide behind non-for profit accounting. I just want them to be transparent show us the records and move on. – pehaada Jul 11 '18 at 21:18
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    @pehaada My reading is not that "they're keeping it secret", it's just they don't know the details yet ("Once the event is officially closed, we will have a clearer picture of the issue."). If mhoran's description is close to the mark, (a) they won't know all the income/costs until later, and (b) the person/people keeping track are probably just "keen amateurs" rather than trained accountants. – TripeHound Jul 12 '18 at 8:23

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