When a Scout arrives at summer camp with our troop he deposits all of his money in the troop bank.
He’s been told to bring his money in one dollar bills to keep things simple. The troop scribe collects all the money and records deposits in a small notebook. The cash and the notebook go into a metal strongbox that is locked with a padlock and placed in an inconspicuous place (usually under a tent platform) and the padlock key, on a lanyard, is placed in another inconspicuous spot.
After each meal the bank is opened and the troop scribe keeps record of withdrawals. He has been trained to ask younger Scouts what they are planning to do with their money and may suggest that they need two, rather than five, dollars to get a soda and a candy bar. This curbs the notorious trading post binge that often results in some sort of gastric irregularity.
Scouts are told to redeposit any currency they have left at the end of the day but can hold onto any coins. If the scribe is doing his job no one has withdrawn more than they need.
During my time as a camp director we would end the summer with two or three hundred dollars in lost money. The most common currency was tens and twenties. We would accept the bills from the finder, attach a note to indicate where it was found and wait for the owner to pick it up; one out of ten would. (We put the lost money towards a staff banquet.)
We’ve had a troop bank for fifteen years or more. We get a few complaints from Scouts (mostly older Scouts) who bridle at having to put their money in the bank. We’ve never had money lost or stolen from the bank. We never have a Scout loose their twenty dollar bill (“Somebody stole my money!”). We don’t have Scouts spending all their money on the first two days and borrowing from their friends and the tensions that creates.
Shouldn’t Scouts learn to handle money? Shouldn’t they be trusted not to steal money from others? Of course. Is a week at camp the best place to do this? Maybe; but I would rather they focus on other things. Loosing money or having it burn a hole in your pocket are distractions I’d rather not deal with at camp.
Most Scout camps now feature a well-appointed air conditioned trading post that is an important enhancement to the camp’s revenue stream. I have no problem with that. Most of our younger Scouts end the week at camp having spent all of their money; if they didn’t they would likely spend it on the way home. Most of our older Scouts go home with home with some money in their pockets
Our troop bank helps Scouts keep the trading post in perspective and focus on what they came to camp to accomplish.