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BSA membership fee increased to $24; what does your $24 get you?

The Boy Scouts of America will increase its annual membership fee for youth and adults to $24 from $15, beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

For those who join after the beginning of the year, the fee will be prorated at $2 per month. This does include units with a Dec. 31, 2013, expiration date.

The change was announced at last week’s annual Top Hands meeting of professional Scouters in Washington, D.C. In a letter to Scouting professionals, Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock explained the reasoning behind the increase.

“First, I want to make clear that the Boy Scouts of America maintains a strong financial position,” he wrote. “In order to continue to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program, it is occasionally necessary to increase membership fees so that we can offset rising administrative costs.”

The BSA’s last fee increase — to $15 from $10 — was in 2010, and since then, the organization has taken steps to control and reduce costs. But “administrative costs have continued to rise faster than projected,” Brock wrote. “As always, our focus is to build the future leaders of this country by combining adventure, educational activities and lifelong values. The fee increase is a step we must take in order to continue providing the services you and our members expect and need.”

So that’s the big news, but I wanted to take you deeper into the story. What exactly does your $24 annual fee pay for? And how does that $24 fee compare to other youth organizations and activities? Much more after the jump.

What does your $24 buy?

Simply put, the Boy Scouts of America National Council provides program materials and support for 280 local councils that administer the Scouting program, with each covering a specific geographic area. To be more specific, the following are the key functions of the national council:

  • Provide liability insurance to registered adult members, local councils, chartered organizations and the national organization
  • Provide technological platforms for the Scouting movement
  • Provide local councils with program as well as tools for camp and office planning and evaluation, extensive financial counseling, planned giving and fundraising information, and professional personnel support
  • Coordinate a communications network through magazines and literature (handbooks, merit badge pamphlets, brochures, training materials, and professional development training)
  • Make available uniforms, equipment, and program supplies
  • Develop and maintain year-round national high-adventure bases and execute national events (jamborees, National Eagle Scout Association and Order of the Arrow conferences, and National Council meetings)
  • Maintain communication with chartered organizations that use the Scouting program (religious institutions, civic organizations, labor unions, professional organizations, business, and industry)
  • Maintain liaison with Scouting associations in other countries as a member of the World Scout Conference
  • Set and maintain program standards (e.g., Advancement, health and safety, etc.) to ensure consistency of the brand throughout councils across the country.

What fees do other youth organizations charge?

Scouting’s a steal. That $24 a year works out to $2 a month or roughly 6.5 cents a day.

Sure, it’s not always comparing apples to apples, but I do think it’s helpful to look at what you’ll pay for other youth activities. Here’s a small sampling. Note: The costs in bold are just the fee to join and don’t include equipment, travel costs, uniforms, etc.

  • Tackle football, $140: In Plano, Texas, second- through sixth-graders who play tackle football pay $140 for a three-month season. That fee doesn’t include equipment.
  • Youth orchestra, $1,000: Members of the prestigious Los Angeles Youth Orchestra pay $1,000 annually and must buy their own instruments.
  • Select soccer, $400: In Cleveland, select youth soccer players age 15 to 18 pay $400 a season, plus $135 for uniforms.
  • Youth basketball, $500: In Queens, N.Y., boys age 8 to 13 pay $500 a year, not including uniforms.
  • 4-H Program, $25: Participants of the 4-H Program in College Station, Texas, pay $25 a year, not including fees for individual activities.

Two bucks a month for America’s premier youth-serving organization? Sign me up.

480 thoughts on “BSA membership fee increased to $24; what does your $24 get you?

  1. Okay $24 for the boys doesn’t sound bad, but charging the adult volunteers for the privilege of volunteering their time takes chutzpa. It’s not the amount, it’s the principle. My son just joined, and I signed up to help with the troop, because I feel that’s my duty since my son will benefit. But if BSA is going to charge me for the privilege of donating my free time…this cheapens the whole thing. Maybe they should go hire someone instead.

  2. Dear Anonymous, part of that fee goes toward running the background check on each volunteer who desires to help. Our Pack covers the costs for the Adult leaders through our annual Pack dues. Maybe your Pack could look into this as well.

  3. I lost four youth from my crew because the registration fee was more than they were willing to pay or raise funds for. That is 30%.

    Still, a $10 gain for the BSA. National’s loss of about $80 from my youth who dropped is offset by the $90 gain from increased fees on my remaining paid youth.

    Nation-wide, I hope BSA manages more than a 10% bump in income once the dust settles.

  4. And now I have received an email for fundraising asking for more money and two of the items claimed these funds will be used for: 1) maintaining camps, and 2) sending kids to camp. Hello BSA, isn’t that already supposed to be part of what the now increased registration fee is used for?

    • “The Summit gives us the opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to America and raise $1 billion for the best youth development in the world,” says a slide from a June 2010 presentation on the project…..Initially budgeted at $176 million through 2013, the Summit’s cost is now estimated to reach at least $350 million by the end of this year and $439 million by the end of 2015, according to Scouts documents reviewed by Reuter…..http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/15/19488798-west-virginia-mega-camp-adds-to-the-boy-scouts-troubles?lite The real questions remain: Why are the people at the top being paid so much to mismanage so badly ? AND Why do we need a 3/4 billion dollar trust fund ?

      • What would happen in most companies if a project ran 100% over budget. I’m thinking there would be some personnel changes. What have we seen from BSA; a 60% increase in dues plus fund requests.

    • No, your council sees exactly $0 from the increase. Your council supplies all of the direct service your boys receive, not national. That money all goes to national.

    • In our Council, we’re starting the Friends of Scouting campaign (trying to get to units at Blue and Golds and Courts of Honor.) That is a Council level fundraiser that goes to the camps and to camp scholarships.

      The fee increase goes directly to National. The email you received is (probably) for local programs.

  5. The resentment toward increased dues is greatly misplaced. I have been volunteering & have occasionally served as paid camp staff for the NWSC for many years & have a very clear idea of where dues & Friends of Scouting funds are spent. This Council does an incredible job of juggling income with expenses. As pointed out earlier, the Membership fee goes to National to offset similar expenses our Council is responsible for at a local level. Here are a few examples off the top of my head: Our Council maintains 2 full service camps & a service center, meaning it bears the responsibility for purchasing, maintaining & replacing equipment ranging from lawn mowers to refrigerators to computers to medical equipment & to docks to canoes to new life jackets to smaller items such as water jugs & silverware. It must ensure safety for anyone using any of the 3 facilities – for instance, must keep water & food supplies safe for consumption, must purchase & maintain reliable equipment for intracamp communication, must build & maintain restroom & shower facilities, replace program equipment such as worn life jackets, frayed ropes, even coolers when they wear out, ensure safe equip. Council pays taxes & insurance on its properties, pays staff(none of them are getting the big bucks either), trains its volunteers, provides council wide programming for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts & Venturers, markets the Scouting program, pays for office supplies & pays postage. I have never volunteered for an organization that offers so much gain to its members for so little cost. Your children can not help but benefit from the Scouting Program in many small ways, & in the bigger picture, from lifelong friendships, unforgettable experiences & developing leadership skills…if the youth are getting all this out of Scouting, imagine what you as a volunteer will get….food for thought….how much would you spend taking your child to a Cubs game…probably close to $24 for parking alone…..BSA is a great deal don’t you think?

  6. Why mandatory liability insurance? Can’t this be made available if a unit needs it? Our unit is covered under our Charter Organization’s insurance, why then are we forced to purchase more?

    We have a VERY SMALL unit with only eleven boys, yet we are required to have a full committee that we have to pay extra for, yet they are really only names on paper so that the charter can be filed.

    The list of costs in the article are fees very few are paying, lets compare other national organizations for kids, not sports for the elite or wealthy. Sports in large part are why we have such a small unit.

    Where I am in Michigan, is costs $40 for Rocket Football, equipment is included. While it is for only a few months, it is 4-5 times a week for those 3-4 months, this is around 60 days, and 3 hours each of these days. Scouts here is 1 1/2 hour twice a month through the school year with parades, flag ceremonies, fundraisers, hikes, camping, field trips and projects added to the schedule. So here, football is the better deal and the organization doesn’t have to pay for the parents of the football players.

  7. I think Scouting is a great program and affordable program even with the recent increase. But I do think it is misleading to say $24 is the true cost of scouting. $24 does NOT include actual scout activities costs, materials, uniforms, handbooks, camp, or anything else that actually touches the boys. The cost for my son is around $1400 annually which he earns himself through fundraising. Granted he is an extremely active scout but saying $24 is the cost of scouting is not corect.

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