Scouts may be thrifty, but some leaders are well paid

Many professional Scouters earn 6-figure salaries across the U.S.

Published: Sunday, Nov. 11 2007 12:00 a.m. MST

All were paid more than leaders of other local youth-serving groups. Elaine Gause, CEO of the Utah Girl Scouts, received $100,692 in compensation that year. Compensation for leaders of six Boys & Girls Clubs in Utah ranged from a low of $16,955 (for the director of one in Brigham City) to a high of $111,281 (for director of one in Salt Lake City).

At the national level, compensation of then-national Scout executive Williams (recently retired) totaled $988,409 in 2005. (Of that, $552,379 was salary and $436,030 was for deferred retirement benefits and compensation, use of a car, life insurance and other benefits.) Then-assistant Scout executive Ken Connolly was given more — $1.08 million — in compensation, largely because of large contributions to his retirement.

In comparison, national Boys & Girls Club President Roxanne Spillet received $868,604; national Girl Scouts CEO Kathy Cloninger received $629,401; national 4-H Club President Donald Floyd Jr. received $572,027; national Big Brothers-Big Sisters President Judy Vredenburgh received $273,236; and Camp Fire USA CEO Stewart Smith received $199,431.

Of note, the BSA says it serves 4.6 million youths nationally. Among other groups, two say they serve more: the 4-H Club says it serves 6.5 million and Boys & Girls Clubs serve 4.8 million. Other groups serve fewer than the BSA: Girl Scouts serve 3.7 million; Camp Fire USA serves 750,000; and Big Brothers-Big Sisters serves 230,000.

Around the nation

Gregg Shields, spokesman for the national BSA, said Boy Scouts tend to pay more on the national level because they have a more complicated organization that provides more services than most other groups.

"Without any disrespect to other youth-serving organizations, BSA is unique in many ways," he said. That includes overseeing thousands of local groups, vast properties and camps, "insurance, magazines for youths and adults, and program offerings such as national and international jamborees that no other organization can tout."

He said, "BSA's 7,000 employees represent one employee for each 171 volunteers and one employee for each 657 youths. These are extraordinary numbers for a service organization."

Shields said Williams, who had 33 years of experience in 2005, was worth his salary as he oversaw a budget of $170 million and 304 local Scout councils.

Shields said, "Williams led the organization through a difficult transition period. This included finding new sponsors for packs, troops and crews that had been chartered by public schools." Also, he said Scouts increased financial stability during his tenure and enjoyed recent growth in the number of youths and adults involved in Scouting.

Also, Shields said all BSA pay ranges are set by volunteer boards and reviewed by independent third-party compensation experts regularly. The national organization is funded largely through registration paid by individual Scouts (the LDS Church itself pays registration for Scouts in units that it sponsors).

Local differences

Locally, Scout leaders say their salaries are higher than other youth groups because their organizations are larger and their jobs require longer hours and more skills.

Powell, the retired executive from the Utah National Parks Council, said, "When people asked what I do, I said name any 10 careers and a Scout executive touches them."

He said that includes being an educator, human relations director, salesman, promoter, organizer, disciplinarian "and sometimes a security guard, a plumber, a custodian or a garbage man if that is what the job requires."

He adds, "Most professional Scouters leave the position simply because their spouse can't take the hours or the schedule or the living circumstances that we often find ourselves in. They may want their husband home at 5 p.m. or on the weekends, but that is just not the case in professional Scouting."

A big difference in Utah is how many Scouts each of the three councils serve.

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