PROVO -- An adult Boy Scout leader in Provo made a rule that nobody could take an electronic device on a camp-out. And if they did, the item would be confiscated and sold "to fund future activities."
And so when Scoutmaster Gove Allen of Troop 195 caught one of the Scouts with a vintage Game Boy on a campout over the weekend, he seized it and later advertised it for sale on KSL.com for $25.
Allen noted in the online advertisement: "In BSA Troop 195, no electronics are allowed on camping trips. When a boy brings an electronic device, it is confiscated and sold to fund future activities."
The contact number in the advertisement was Allen's office phone at BYU. He is an associate professor of information management at the Marriott School of Management. Troop 195 is sponsored by the LDS Grandview 4th Ward.
Allen said he put the practice into place three years ago but he has never had to enforce it until now.
"I listed the object for probably twice what it is worth but wasn't really expecting to sell it," Allen said. "I called the boy's mother and offered her the chance to buy it back first."
Allen said the mother did buy it back for a price he said was less then $25. He wouldn't disclose the amount. Allen also said the parents of the boy weren't upset.
"In fact there was some question about whether they wanted to redeem the item for their son or not," he said.
Allen said all of his Scouts and their parents are aware of his fundraising rule. "This is the first time I ever did it," he said. "I hope I never have to do it again."
According to the official LDS Church handbook, "Fundraising activities are not usually approved" but a stake president or bishop "may authorize one group fund-raising activity each year" for such things as equipment for an annual camp.
"Contributions to fundraising activities are voluntary," the handbook says. "Priesthood leaders should take special care to ensure that members do not feel obligated to contribute."
Examples of fundraising activities that are prohibited include "the sale of commercial goods or services," the handbook says.
Bob Gowans, camping director for the Boy Scouts of America Utah National Parks Council, said confiscation of electronics is not a common practice among Scout troops and not something that BSA encourages, even though the organization wants to provide a good outdoor experience for Scouts.
"We have tens of thousands of leaders and they will do things and take their own initiative and do things sometimes that aren't in accordance with what we would do ourselves," Gowans said. "We discourage boys from bringing electronics to camp but we can't dictate the behavior of every leader."