Guest Post: The Cost of Volunteer Hours in the Church’s Cub Scouting Program
by Nate Curtis
Nate is an economist and EmilyCC’s spouse and co-Cubmaster. He wrote this post as a response to her “Institutionalized Gender Inequality Starts in the Church at Age 8.”
Money is a standard measure for a unit of energy. It doesn’t matter who invests that money/energy, the fact is that the church standard is that the energy must be invested in the boys and not in the girls.
Keeping in mind that money is energy, lets take a deeper look at EmilyCC’s analysis.
Hard costs: $150 (this is a conservative estimate that does not take into account the number of lost books, outgrown shirts, neckerchief slides, neckerchiefs, and on and on). Some have argued that stakes and wards do not foot this entire bill. But, the Church has implemented a program that requires someone to pay for these items and does not ask anyone to do the same for girls.
Labor costs: The Church Scouting Handbook (search “LDS Scouting Handbook 2012”) calls for 14 people per ward for each cub scout pack.
Two den leaders per den (6 total) – Spend 12 hours per week (2 hours each) preparing and attending meetings
Two cubmasters per pack – Spend 6 hours per week (3 hours each) they attend both pack meetings and committee meetings.
Executive Officer (Bishop) – I allocated 15 minutes a week as they are not actually required to do anything, but still probably spend at least that much time talking and working with boys.
Charter Organization Rep (Counselor) – Attends committee meetings and Pack meetings (1 hour a week)
Cub Scout committee (BSA requires 4 to register a pack) – Meets “as often as necessary” according to the book. I had this job for 2 years and once a week is not enough time to fulfill the calling properly.
The committee is supposed to track progress, fundraise, set up and take down pack meetings, and register boys (that last one alone is at least a 40 hour a year job).
All in, that is 14 people expected to contribute approximately 101.5 hours a week or 1,263 hours per scout year (40 weeks assumes part-time summers even though the church requires us to maintain scouting throughout the summer).
The national average hourly wage for child care workers is $12.45 (Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Employment Statistics, SOC Code 399011).
$12.45 * 1,263 hours per year is approximately $50,540 per year, per ward.
1 leader planning and executing a meeting every 2 weeks (2 hours)
1 primary president contributing 30 minutes per week
1 bishop contributing the same 15 minutes per week that he does to cub scouts
Using the same assumptions for hourly rates, that equates to approximately $4,108 per year.
While the actual hard costs (uniforms, awards…) are shockingly unequal, the labor cost inequality is an astounding 12 times more or 1,230% more for cub scouts than it is for activity days.
The argument that the stakes/wards are not supposed to pay for hard costs requires a person to willfully ignore what the church does require, which is a labor energy investment of over $50,500 per ward, per year for cub scouts compared to $4,100 labor investment per year for activity days.
And anyone who thinks that kids don’t notice this, just go to a pack meeting and watch. All the scouts bright-eyed and shiny in the front row in askew uniforms eagerly waiting for their pretty praises and prizes while their sibling sisters sit on the back row, waiting for another cheer-session to end for their brothers.
I have presented several Arrow of Light awards in the last few months in our cub scout pack. It is an elaborate half hour ceremony where the boys receive face paint, a new compass, light candles, get a plaque with their name engraved, a hand-made arrow with painted bands that chronicle their cub scout careers. They get praised by their den leader, pack leader, bishop, and new scout master as they graduate from cub scouts to boy scouts. And lastly, their fellow cub scouters see them off with a group pack howl to let them know they will be missed, and they will always have a place in the pack.
I have teared up at the end of each of these ceremonies, especially as I see those cub scouts’ sisters sitting in the back row for their monthly lesson, learning once again that they are the less important sex.