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How Flag Service Works

We provide flag service on seven holidays: President’s Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Pioneer Day, Labor Day, and Veteran’s Day. Families that have paid $25.00 for the calendar year (or for as many flag holidays as are left in the calendar year) have a flag posted in their front lawn on those days. This is a work project, and Scouts who participate can be credited with enough money to pay for some or all of Scout camp fees. The flag service can also provide any leftover funds directly to the troop, which the troop could use on things like equipment.

Here is some detail, for curious Scouts and others, on how the money is distributed: Suppose (doing some wishful thinking) that 50 families sign up for flag service. If they all pay, the troop would take in $1,250.00 at the beginning of the year. Now suppose that on the first holiday, Joe Bob, Jay Bob, John Bob, Jake Bob, and Jehoshaphat Bob show up to set up flags. Suppose Joe Bob took ten flags, and his dad drove him around so he could post them. Suppose Jay Bob and John Bob took ten flags between them, and their Assistant Scoutmaster drove them around so they could post them. Suppose Jake Bob and Jehoshaphat Bob took thirty flags between them, and the Scoutmaster drove them around so they could post them. That morning, Joe Bob would earn $10.00, Jay Bob would earn $5.00, John Bob would earn $5.00, Jake Bob would earn $15.00, and Jehoshaphat Bob would earn $15.00. If each boy picked up the same flags in the evening, they would each earn that much more. Each flag posted can earn a Scout $1.00, and each flag retrieved can earn a Scout $1.00. If multiple Scouts post, say, ten flags, they split the $10.00 credit between them (the troop cannot afford to pay unlimited amounts of money per flag, since it only gets a set amount per flag). If Scouts don’t show up and a leader has to post a flag, the money that would have been credited to a Scout goes to the troop instead. At the end of the first day, the Scoutmaster would make a note of what each boy earned. Say Scout camp costs $120.00 per Scout. When the time to sign up for Scout camp comes, the Scoutmaster would collect that much from each Scout, minus whatever they earned on the flag project (the latter amount would come out of flag funds). So if Jehosaphat Bob only worked on flags that first holiday, what he would have to pay for Scout camp fees would be $120.00 minus $30.00. If a boy individually posted and later retrieved, say, ten flags per holiday on six of the seven holidays, he would earn $120.00 over the year, enough to pay for Scout camp. That requires getting up early, but if three different groups of Scouts cover the ward the job would be done in a half hour in the morning and a half hour in the evening, and during that time the Scouts would earn money at a pretty good rate indeed. Scouts who fail to show up on flag holidays end up paying their own way to Scout camp. If the adult leaders have to do the flag work by themselves, the troop could use the flag money on troop gear. Doing the math for the fifty family scenario above, if every flag on every holiday were posted and retrieved by a Scout, then the troop would credit $700.00 to the cost of various Scouts’ activities. That would leave $500.00 for the troop to use on things flag replacement and troop equipment.

Additional note, February 2003: As it happens, in 2002 only about half of the people who requested flag service actually paid. Rampant nonpayment created a risk that the troop could not even make enough from flags to pay the individual Scouts what they earned. Because of that, in 2003 Troop 139 must encourage payment in advance by ward and neighborhood friends who request flag service (subject to appropriate exceptions). 2003 shapes up to have better involvement by Scouts, which will mean they benefit if an adequate number of families sign up for flag service. However, given that as of February only a couple of dozen families had signed up, it is very likely that in 2003 even Scouts who participate in this work project and want to go to Scout camp will have to pay part, and possibly most, of the cost of Scout camp.

Additional note, June 2003: It became clear in 2003 that the flag project would not earn each Scout enough money to pay for the 2003 Scout camp. Most Scouts came into the program too close to Scout camp to do many flag holidays, and we did not have many flags to put up anyway. Due to the poor economic circumstances of 2003 and the difficulty some families would have had paying for Scout camp, the troop used the flag project funds on Scout camp regardless of whether those dollars had been fully earned by each individual Scout (we also used flag funds to match funds with the Order of the Arrow to provide partial camperships to Timberline junior leader training in July so two Scouts could attend). This put the program a bit out of whack, since although Scouts can and should keep working on future flag holidays, doing so through the rest of 2003 will not earn money for 2004. Because of this, in 2004 it is possible that this project will be converted to a more conventional fundraiser for the troop, as we did in 2003, rather than a work project in which boys are credited with a dollar a flag. We would require a commitment from each Scout to participate voluntarily and regularly on the project in the future, and they would still need to save some of their own money toward future Scout camps. Or, in 2004 the flag service may remain a work project, but Scouts might still need to find additional, individual ways to earn and save for Scout camp in 2004.

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Created by Paul Wake.
Last updated June 30, 2003.

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