Lessons in the Scout Law – A Scout is Thrifty

A Scout is Thrifty.  A Scout works to pay his own way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.

“What’s this?” Tad asked him mom, as she handed him a garbage bag.

“I’m planning a garage sale.  You boys are going to clean out the toys you don’t play with any more and the clothes that don’t fit.  It’s time to downsize!” his mom said with a big grin.

“Awww, Mom,” Tad started to say, until she stopped him cold.

“As an added incentive, I’ll let you keep the proceeds from any toys you sell,” Mom said, grinning.  Tad sighed.  Spending hours watching people dig through your stuff – yuck.

AJ jumped in, adding, “How about a lemonade stand?  We could maybe make some cookies to sell, too.”  He was sounding way too excited about this.

“That sounds like a great idea, son.  Whaddya say, Tad-o?  You interested?” Mom asked.

“Doesn’t sound like I have much choice, does it?” Tad answered.

“No, you don’t.  Okay, start by going through the stuff in the toy box.  An hour every afternoon should put us in good shape before the sale.”

True to her word, she was waiting by the door that afternoon with a list.  As the days went by, there were more lists and more garbage bags.  The last two days before the sale were spent sorting and pricing.  AJ was all over the place, being Mr. Helpful.  He was actually looking forward to this dumb sale.  Dad helped him build a stand that looked like the ones in those sappy old tv shows.

Garage sale day arrived, and Mom had everyone up and outside by 5 a.m.  Yes, that’s right, five o’clock in the morning.  The weirdest part of all is that there were people sitting in their cars on their street waiting.  Think what time they got THEIR kids up!

Mom was barking orders and yelling commands.  Every time Tad stopped and sat down for one freaking minute, Mom blew a gasket.  Within a very few minutes, people were swarming all over their yard.

Meanwhile, AJ set up his lemonade stand.  He had coffee for the early morning shoppers.  He helped shoppers carry bags to their cars.  In a late night stroke of genius, he and Mom added Rice Krispie treats to the menu, which were vaporizing.  Little brother was a marketing genius.

Meanwhile, Tad snuck inside, poured himself a bowl of cereal, and slaughtered aliens for hours on a video game.  Mid-morning, Mom saw Tad lounging in front of the screen and discovered he had been in the house all morning.  Mom didn’t say a word; she just turned and walked out.  Wait, shouldn’t she be yelling or something?

Tad decided he better pitch in a little.  He went over to help AJ as he was selling a glass of lemonade.   When he opened up the cash box, Tad couldn’t believe it.  His pencil box was bulging with money.  Folding money – not just coins!

“Hey, Tad, cover the booth for a minute while I help Mrs. Armstrong to her car,” AJ called.  His little brother knew what was what while Tad didn’t have a clue.

“Good morning to you, young man.  One cup of lemonade, please,” Mrs. Sackwith said.  Tad hadn’t realized she was standing there.

“Oh, hey, Mrs. S.  Sure, here’s a cup.  I’m not sure how much AJ’s charging,” Tad explained.  Like he wasn’t feeling dumb enough already, he had to confess to Mrs. Sackwith that he didn’t know anything about selling lemonade.

“Yes, I know.  I was over quite early this morning and young Alex carried my purchases home for me.  That small act was rewarded with a handsome tip, I might add,” Mrs Sackwith said, smiling.  Man, she really knew how to hurt a guy.

“Thanks, Tad, I’m back now,” chimed in AJ.  “Hey, Mrs. S,” he told Mrs. Sackwith.  “You’ve been such a good customer today, that one’s free.”

“Why, thank you, young man.  I hope you show a profit at the end of the day,” Mrs. Sackwith replied.

When Mrs. Sackwith walked over to talk to Tad’s mom, AJ squealed, “Man, oh, man, Tad-o, you should have been here!  I sold all the coffee we made, and the cookies hardly lasted an hour.  This lemonade stand was the greatest invention EVER,” AJ was practically shouting.

After the sale was over, Mom called a family meeting.  Tad knew that part of the meeting would be spent on his behavior.  Mom would probably even use the D word again – disappointed.

“Okay, let’s recap,” Mom started out.  “AJ, you were quite a hustler today.  I was so impressed.  How much money is in your cash box?”

“I have $98.50.  Can you believe it?  Almost $100!”  He was about to rupture with excitement.

“Tad, how about you?  Anything to report?”  The question sounded so mild, Tad might have been fooled if he hadn’t been in this rodeo before.

“No, nothing,” he replied.  He tried to match her ‘nothing’s-wrong-here’ expression.

“I’m very pleased that the entire proceeds from the garage sale, not including the Lemonade stand, was well over the $1,000 that we were hoping for,” Mom reported.

“Now, for an equitable distribution of funds.  Tad, do you feel you contributed to the event enough to warrant being included in the profit?”  Tad swallowed hard.  She used big words like that when something was up.  Better throw himself on the mercy of the court.

Tad wracked his brain to come up with anything that sounded like he had done what his mom wanted.  “I helped sort through the stuff in our bedroom, and carried boxes out this morning to set up.  Then I went in to play on the X-box while we waited for customers.  I didn’t really intend to stay all morning, but that’s what happened,” Tad stated.

“Thank you for your honesty.  You provided some support last week,” she agreed.  “I think $10 is more than enough to compensate you for your services.”

Actually that was more than he was expecting; he could work with that.  And she hadn’t added on the D word.  So far, so good.

“Now, Alex, let’s talk about you.  I need to charge you $20 for the ingredients I provided for the cookies and lemonade, as we discussed.”  AJ carefully counted out two fives and a ten, and handed it over.  Were those tears in his eyes?

“However, watching you with our customers, I feel it fair to return $10 for the extra services you provided.  You definitely boosted sales with your thoughtfulness,” Mom said.  AJ returned the $10 to his cash envelope with a sigh of relief.  That still left him with more than $80.  Woohoo!

“Tad, I think it’s only fair that you should have to do something to match the contributions already made by the rest of the family.  Otherwise it wouldn’t be fair to include you in the trip,” Mom stated.

Did she say trip?

“Since we did so well, it looks like we’ll be going to Legoland.”  Tad and AJ nearly fainted from excitement.  Why hadn’t she said so in the first place?  Tad would have been way more willing to work if he had known.

“Tad, now that the sale is over, you’re on clean up detail.  All the items going to charity must be boxed.  The empty boxes must be broken down for recycling.  The sidewalks should be swept.  I think 8 hours of work sounds fair, don’t you?”

There are times when you know for certain that if you answer the question your mom just asked, you will die a slow and horrible death.  This was definitely one of those times.  Tad nodded his agreement.

And so the deal was struck.  Tad began cleaning up from the sale while AJ sat at the kitchen table pretend-spending the equivalent of a gazillion dollars.  Finally, he decided to save his money in case there was something stupendous at Legoland.

A few weeks later at the den meeting, some of the parents set up a fake bank.   Each Scout drew a slip of paper from a hat that told what type of job he had and how much he earned.  They were given a calculator and ads on houses and cars.  Each Scout had to decide which house and car he could afford with his pretend income.  Then they had to subtract money for food and bills from what was left.  Only after all their assigned bills were deducted could they decide if they had enough left to order pizza or rent video games.  Tad drew the job of school teacher, which meant that there was no way he could afford the Corvette from the sale paper.  He had to lower the price of the house he could afford three times before he came out with any money for food.  Man, this was tough!

Mr. Bolton used his closing thought to remind the boys that a Scout is thriftyA Scout works to pay his own way and to help others, while saving for the future.  Tad’s mind flashed to the garage sale.  He was sure glad Mom came up with a plan for him to earn his way into the family trip to Legoland . . .

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