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. Hey Bryan! Don’t mean to hack close to home but here’s a cost-cutting move I’d like to see from BSA (and some fine print that these scouters seem to be missing):
    Let’s get that $2 cost of Scouting magazine down to $.50! How? Go to black-and-white, two-column format.

    In fact, return all MB books to $2 color format. Produce only one new book. And revise only 5 per year.

    In fact, make all BSA publications – including letterhead – black and white.

    Stop curriculum changes, now!

    No more high end video production.

    Start looking like the lean, rugged organization that boys and girls who spend thier own $24 to form real patrols and go out on their own unsupervised would be proud to join.

    • I say we take it one step further. Keep the color. Go .pdf for all of them. That way there is zero printing cost on the BSA end. How about an annual Pack, Troop, Crew, Ship, fee for unlimited use of the materials so we don’t violate any laws in use of the copyrights. Several other organizations do this. Plus if you are really looking at reducing cost, this is printing, shipping, cost to inventory, cost to sell them, etc.

      • Don, open publishing is a fine idea, but not everyone in this country has equal viewing/print capacity. Paper still has its uses. Let’s just put our devices down and see what else is lying on tables at the coffee shop!

        My point is: drop the typesetter, look lean, and you might attract some of those millions of members lost who are happy to learn to hike and camp from “parsimonious media” and spend the bulk of their $24 on a good weekend in the woods.

        • No, they don’t. That’s why my recommendation (lost amid many other posts on here, lol) was that like Don said – make them pdf’s, charge a yearly fee for on-line access (like many, many magazines now do), but also have a fee for those who want a hard copy. My suggestion might be a tad low, but not by much, because the money made from the on-line fee which has no printing costs and we already have a website, so it could just be added as a link to that. My suggestion is $5 a year for on-line, if they only want hard copy $7.50, and if they want BOTH, $10.

    • Or how about the ‘administrators’ take a pay cut? no reason people in charge of a non profit organization to be making more than $100,000 a year. THAT is the only reason they are increasing costs.

      • I referenced this talk earlier in the discussion. It’s an interesting take on non-profits, salaries, and fund-raising.

        Dan Pallotta makes the case that you should pay wages that are competitive with for-profit corporations, in order to get the quality leadership that makes a non-profit highly successful in their mission.

        $100,000 is not an exorbitant salary for someone with major responsibilities in a nation-wide organization with over 2,000,000 members. In fact, it’s a fairly typical salary for engineers and software developers.

        A number of folks here made Dan’s point for him. If you have the skills to make the BSA successful, it’s a far easier path to work in Silicon Valley or Wall Street, donate $100,000 to the BSA and be a member of the board, a philanthropist, and a hero. If you actually work for the non-profit and are paid what you’re worth, then everyone criticizes you for being overpaid.

        • $100,000 is not enough, but is $1.2 million too much? The top 9 at BSA make at least $400,000 in compensation each & the top dog is at $1.2 Million? For paying that much to the BSA top executives, they should be successful in what they are doing. But are they? Number of Scouts going the wrong direction nationally . . . cost overruns at the Summit . . . decision on the homosexual issue that pleased hardly anyone.

          I think that if the Top 9 refused to take a 10% pay cut until things started getting better, they should all be fired. The next 9 up in seniority among the professionals take over at 50% of the pay. They sure CANNOT do any worse than those currently at the top of the heap.

    • Everyone understand that this increase is do to a loss in membership for recent changes, they just don’t want to say it….

  2. I thought “A scout is thrifty.” Why is national not thrifty?

    And “A scout is trustworthy.” Announcing an increase by surprise after fees are gathered based amounts listed in blue ink in the membership application is not trustworthy.

    • It’s tough to be thrifty when your bringing home $400k a year…

      Q when you knock down that much cash it all has to be in color.

    • Does anyone know if the national office has had to take a furlough like the staffers at my local council had to last year?

  3. Your numbers are disingenious and if $24.00 was all we paid to be involved in Scouting I would agree.

    If $24 from each Scout was all that is required to Develop and maintain year-round national high-adventure bases then the cost to attend them should be $0. Which it certainly isn’t. How many Scouts are 14 and under and aren’t eligible to attend these High Adventure Bases? Not complaining about the $24.00 but really be honest about the use of the money.

  4. Wow, talk about comparing apples to oranges!

    The problem in your “comparison” is that NONE of the $24 goes back to the UNIT. So tackle football may cost $140, but that is all the cost the boy has to pay to be in the program. Now, if he had to pay $140 to some national organization just to play football in his state, that would be an equal comparison.

    Instead, scouts must pay $24 for national overhead, then fundraise or pay a la carte for events and camps over the course of the year.

    And saying that the national dues go to “Make available uniforms, equipment, and program supplies.” Wow, what great marketing-speak. So the money goes to the support the privilege of being able to walk into a scout store and spend hundreds of dollars on uniforming, gear, equipment, patches made in China, etc….

    A 50% increase in 2010 followed by a whopping 60% fee increase just 3 years later says only one thing–problems with the program at a national level.

    • I think your comparison if flawed…

      So how many years did your scout get out of his uniform book and camping gear?????

      And any unit worth anything has a uniform closet or gear exchange.

      • And again, you insult others. My old troop had 6 active, 11 on books. Parents great as far as making sure boys able to attend functions, but for various reasons (health, job, other children) never took part in campouts or other events. We had to scramble to get 2 deep. Fundraisers were impossible….no help. THEREFORE, the idea that we should have a ‘closet’ is ludicrous! We not only didn’t have a closet, but our equipment had to be stored in one of our storage sheds (we have a farm) as we did not have a ‘home’ for our stuff and certainly had no money to rent a commercial storage shed!

        Just because your troop was large enough to be financially stable doesn’t give you the right to insult others.

        • Hi Mariah-
          Pay no attention to Bob Basement. He is being a contrarian. It doesn’t matter what is being said, he disagrees and then insults the person who posted. We have a large troop in a suburb. We attend a camp in a neighboring state that has many small troops from rural farming communities. Talking with those leaders – I know it can be hard because it is often just a handful of parents all trying to arrange their schedules to help provide the activities for the boys. Plus – we have the best time at that camp because EVERYONE is so nice and so helpful.

        • Thank you so much! I try really hard not to post negative things, but I’m also not one to back down from a fight, lol. Everyone has a right to their opinions but I have never seen one person who generally has nothing good to say about anything, lol!

          I think scout troops, in general, are all great people. There have been a few (in my own council) who are very stuck up, and ‘I’m better than you’ attitude. We live within 5 miles of the capitol of my state, so VERY VERY rural. The capitol is suburb/rural. There really isn’t much urban around here, lol. At least not in comparison to our big cities – STL and KC. Columbia has a troop that when they go to camp, they call themselves the ‘HORDE’ because there are over 100 in the troop and almost all of them go to camp, lol!

          He was dissing troops that have a lot of adult leadership. Another troop (Actually one of the stuck up ones), has more adults than kids. Many of the adults have stayed with the troop long after their boys were adults and gone. Many of the campouts have more adults attending than boys.

          Reading all this stuff, I was sent searching for info. Found that in Canada they actually have ADULT boy scout troops, but it wouldn’t help me – I’m past that age, lol. The age is 18-26. That was where their first gay troop started – with the adult group….but it died a few years later. Maybe they need a JACK BENNY scout troop, lol! We have that class in our horse shows.

        • So how do the boys get a chance to lead when there are 20 adults along?

          Gee, how do you build a uniform closet???? You have the boys donate or you give them patches for their new shirt when they out grow theirs….No cost. So the cost of the uniform closet is zero or minimal at best.

          I am from a poor urban area, money is always a problem, but we look after our own and used uniforms are not a problem for our families.

        • How, with a large number of adults (Our troop has 60+boys, 90+ adults) do they learn leadership? The boys and adult campsites are separate, but adjacent. Boys request permission to enter adult site, and vice versa. SPL controls the boys, SM or ASM in charge runs the adult camp. SM indicates to SPL what needs to be done, if necessary, and SPL takes it from there – with patrol method, they learn leadership. Adults are encouraged to go through SM, and called down if, except for safety, they violate chain of command. Tha’t how they learn leadership

    • NONE of the football leagues my son has played in provided shoulder pads, pants or cleats……

      I paided $145 to join then another $100 for used gear and another $50 for the required shoes.

  5. From 2010 to 2113 the registration cost has gone from $10 to $24. That is a 41.7% increase in 4 years in administrative costs. If that happened in any for profit corporation, the entire management team would be immediately fired. Perhaps that is what the Boy Scouts should do. The absolute minimum acceptable explantion that should be given to the members of the Boy Scout Organization is what administrative costs are rising so quickly.

    • This is exactly why so the majority of families in all three of my sons units (1 Pack & 2 Troops) have elected not to participate in FOS anymore, they support the unit directly instead. The famiies have stated they simply can’t see any value in FOS.
      They feel ignored when they try to contact anyone at Council HQ (unanswered voicemails & emails). The prices for camping programs at District events & Council summer camps keep going up & up with no added value taking place. And whatever you do, don’t get them started on the cost uniforms, books, and other such scout gear.
      On top of all this, for the last 3 years running our local District has been in a non-stop FOS mode year round. They literally begin talking about the next FOS cycle before the current one is even finished! As a unit leader, I was told to provide the personal contact information (name/address/phone#/emails) of each family that didn’t contribute to FOS in 2013 so the District FOS committee could “follow up with each family individually about their decision not to support scouting”. I refused to do so, advising them that they already had the name & address of every family in our unit via Scout registration data if they wished to pursue such a course of action.

      • WHAT! They want to harass those who choose not to donate? UNITED WAY anyone! I no longer donate to United Way because of the harassment I got in the work place. Funny, most state office buildings have a no begging sign out front, yet they actively take part, give time off to those helping, etc. for United Way. Hypocrits anyone?

        On top of that, when they assigned me to help, I was asked to do just that – follow up with those who did not donate. I refused. Since it was basically a volunteer issue and had nothing to with my ‘job’, they could only give me dirty looks. With UW you fill out that little card and say what you want to pay and to who (which is a joke – or it was when I was helping), and you sign it, and it comes auto out of your paycheck each month. They already KNOW who didn’t donate by those that DID. It’s harassment to keep after someone. If they wanted to donate, they would.

        Just so you know, I do donate to things, but not to ones that harass. I was getting a phone call from one of the kids non-profits FOUR TIMES A DAY! For more than a month. I finally called the local office and told them that I realized they ‘farm’ out their call service to idiots but they need to be more careful as they are not doing this very worthwhile cause any good. They are alienating people!

        People already have enough making ends meet, and feel guilty when they don’t donate, so putting this additional pressure on them is unconscienable (ok, I butchered that word).

  6. Bryan – I hope you’re going to pass these comments along to National (I’m sure we’d all like to pass along our comments to National if they provided a method for us to do that). Although I didn’t read every post, there wasn’t a single one in the ones that I read that said this is a good idea.

    I think a lot of us could accept an increase in dues if we got a truthful and complete explanation of the reasons. I think we all understand that costs rise, but to just pin them to “administrative cost increases” is not doing the change justice. Also, let’s be honest, a good portion of this money is probably needed to pay off the cost over-runs for Summit.

    The other problem with this change has been mentioned frequently; the units have already set their budgets and communicated their costs to the parents – using the process that National says we should. To change the costs now is not acceptable. If they want to increase them for 2015, that would be an acceptable timeframe.

    Lastly, I’m very disappointed in how this is being communicated to the units. The only place I’ve seen this mentioned is in your blog (which doesn’t cover every unit) and reposts of your blog on Facebook (which also doesn’t cover every unit). Is a letter going to be sent to every unit and CO?

    • Dave,

      Thanks for your feedback and rest assured that national- and council-level professionals and volunteers read this blog. This is an official communication channel of the BSA, but expect your council and other BSA communications methods to share additional information about this change soon.

      • Dave: This information just bubbled out of the Top Hands meeting last week. For those of us who surf the Internet Scout sites and who are really plugged in, we got the info. Yes, information travels slowly at times. Not all Councils react as fast as others.

        On the first day back from a National Holiday, Bryan got the word out. He actually had more information than Wayne Brock’s email that has been floating around the Interwebs.

        • It came out today from our Council Commissioner to all of our District Commissioners. As DC, I will be making sure all this gets out to all of my Unit Commissioners and all unit leaders at Roundtable tomorrow night.

  7. The real problems began when the Boy Scouts stopped focusing on the boys, they (the youth) will never see a penny of that money. I have 3 boys in the program plus myself. Not to mention every camping trip, OA weekend, and summer camp. Talk about comparing apples and oranges, but why not have Scouting go back to the ideals Baden Powell founded it on and concentrate on the boys and we wouldn’t have to worry about where the extra money would come from, people would be clambering to get their child in the program.

  8. There’s a narrative missing here, and it would really be helpful if that could be shared with us. The bald statement that “administrative costs are rising,” is simply not adequate. Which administrative costs are rising? Is all of the increase in personnel? Is it in travel? Publications? As noted, the increase in 3-4 years is 140%. That would suggest, at the very least, very poor planning and cost projection. In the absence of any further information, that is somewhat unbelievable. So, where can we find a detailed cost history of national/district?

    Perhaps the difficulty is not so much that costs have risen, but that the per unit (scout or local unit) cost has increased. To put this another way, the administrative costs spread over fewer scouts or units will of course rise. So it would also be helpful to see what the scout or unit enrollments have been recently. Yes, I read the PR reports as well, but one really wonders whether the financials do not tell another story.

  9. I am shaking my head at such a drastic increase with short notice. Holiday spending & local city/county taxes at the same time as BSA dues already makes for some major penny pinching. Honestly if we had more children in scouting I would seriously reconsider volunteering just to make sure they could join. A $24 annual membership fee is not a lot to expect for such an outstanding program, but when considering $24 multiplied by five ($120 when I was only expecting $75) is a big deal. I do not support a 60% increase without adequate notice.

  10. This article/poll is only a year old:

    from the poll, most units don’t charge $24, they charge $24+”whatever fundraising doesn’t cover” which seems to average out to $50-75/yr, but ranges from the $24 to $150. And many still require individuals to pick up uniforms, book, specific event payments, etc.

    Not all units can fully fund via fundraisers. If fundraising could cover all costs, National would have no need for the fee increase, now would it? If an increase is needed, so be it, but provide an explanation, not ‘cover’ with poor comparisons. (I pay maybe $100/yr/child for rec sports, and zero to volunteer…)

    Also, timing is a bit poor. Sure, it’s a few months before the increase gets charged, but it’s 1-3 months after Units are told to (and rewarded for!) get their yearly budget together. Recruitment is already happening, many have already paid dues to the pack for the year. It now looks poor to go back hat-in-hand, and with what explanation? We’ll make it work, (perseverance, positive attitude, resourcefulness, and faith…) but they didn’t make this job any easier.

  11. Increases are always hard. There are people who understand it and just go with it and others that have issues with it. Forming, Norming, Storming and Performing. Not sure where I heard that before?

    Yes, Scouting at the local level on the front lines is more expensive that just $24. Yes, $24 registration fee is a lot less than many other “things” that youth could do. Which, really if your youth really already is doing more than just Scouting. Swimming, Baseball, Football, LaCrosse, Crosscountry, Soccer, Hockey and many many other things.

    Yes, I fully suspect that along with everything Bryan noted that National is doing for us as a group is well intended and needed. Yes, I suspect that the lawsuits and cost overruns for The Summit are factors.

    Yes, it would be nice if those at National who have large paychecks would actually reduce them and be “Thrifty”.

    But, I do not sit in their chair and I do not see what they see or deal with what they deal with. I suspect that I might come to understand more of why if I were there. I also might have ideas on how to better impliment things?

    Yes, I know that those at National do read and listen to online blogs, posts and forums. I am glad that Bryan and the BSA have this channel. It’s good to put a voice to something knowing that someone will read this.

    So, here is my wishlist. I think someone stated it here earlier.

    As a now retired Cubmaster since my son just crossover this spring, I am getting into more Troop activities. I am still focused on Cubscouts since I am a District Training Chair.

    The Cubscout program is really at the District and Pack level. If the Council has Council run Summer Camp, that’s one thing. Many District’s put on their own camp. It is largely then left to the Pack & Den to create and excute the Program. Yes, there is training (if those who are leaders get trained. And by trained I don’t mean taking the online trainging. That does not connect local resources to that leader. Nor does it answer a lot of their questions. Get in-person trained!)

    Yes, National put out the Den & Pack Planning Guides in 2010. Great. 2010. Yes, I know in 2014/15 the Cubscout program changes and all new books come out.

    But what I would love to see is…New Beltloops, New Webelos Activity Pins, new things that Cubscouts can do and achive. Yes, there is NOVA. But, my council really has not pushed it and I really don’t see a push from National. So, that’s a fail in my eyes.

    Boy Scouts have Jamborees put on by National. There are Order of the Arrow events. Philmont, The Summit, Northern Tier and Sea Base. Cubscouts cannot go to these or join. Yes, if the Cubscouts are close to one, they could. Cubscouts cannot go to Philmont unless their parents go to Philmont Training Center.

    So, really, there isn’t much Nationally a Cubscout can do. They also cannot join the Order of the Arrow and go to Conclave or other National events.

    So, my ask is this….focus on Cubscouts. Cubscouts are where Boy Scouts come from. Create good programming content for Cubscouts. Create programs at Philmont, Northern Tier, Sea Base and The Summit. Cubscouting is a family enviroment. Families can travel (if they can afford it). They go to Disney and many other theme parks.

    Outside of all that, Cubscouts really is local to 50-75 miles from their meeting area.
    Yes, I will be paying the $24.
    Yours in Scouting.

    • “Increases are always hard. … Forming, Norming, Storming and Performing. Not sure where I heard that before?” It is not clear what Tuckman’s stages of group development have to do with a poorly planned membership fee increase. With five executives soaking up $3 million between them, it is reasonable to expect that such a membership increase would be better managed than this.

      Also, with all respect, I’m not sure that there would be much value in providing Cub Scout programming at an existing or new nationally-managed facility. My son has been as involved in and excited about Scouts as any you will find and our family is blessed with solid financial and time resources. However, I would have been hard pressed to justify spending the money to put two of us on to a plane to go to Philmont or somesuch when he was of Cub Scout age, even if they had offered age-appropriate programming. Much less would I have been inclined to chaperone a den of such little guys on a national trip.

      By the way, a national facility that provides Cub Scout-age programming already exists. It’s called the National Scouting Museum. Albeit inconveniently located for most Americans (really, who thought an Irving, TX office park was a good idea?), it is a world-class facility.

  12. So in 2010 the national level would take in membership cost of $27,396,920. But in 2012 with membership at 2,658,794 and the cost of membership at $15. Would collect $39,881,910. But for the same numbers at $24 they would collect $63,811,056. So for year to year we have an increase of over $20 million. But in 4 years we had in increase over double. I can tell you I not seen not seen an increase of support coming from the national level. I know cost have gone up but it hard to believe the national budget is so far out of line that this is really needed.

    Where is the money going?
    What has increased so much?
    How much memebership have we lost because of the change in polices?
    Is this to cover lawers , Court cost and litigation cost?

    I know for you as a volunteer it cost me over $2,000 per year. But last year it was over $3,000.

    But the increase is not a killer but when all you hear coming for the local level is ways to raise money to support the local council. I am just get tired of hearing this all the time. We don’t do scouting to hear about money all the time.

    • I love your “questions” which are actually irrational attempts to blame the increases on the membership standards change. My response “question” would be: How much membership has BSA lost over the past several years due to its discriminatory policies? It is a fact that my local unit has increased enormously since BSA changed its policies for the better.

      • I’m not pro or anti gay membership in BS. I have several gay friends who would make great leaders. Remember, anyone who attacks a child is no longer human. Has nothing to do with what their sexual preference is (hetero/gay). They are then pedophiles whether male or female and sorry, they don’t deserve to be on this earth.

        But what I would be interested in seeing just for stat sakes is what were the increases/decreases nationally, council, district and local level. But we won’t know that until around January or February when everyone recharters.

        I’m hoping it has helped BSA. I don’t know. We’ve lost a few long-time and will be very missed scouters. And of course their boys along with them. Some of the charters have refused to recharter, but that doesn’t mean the troops are going to die, they will just need to find another charter.

        So, this decision is still up in the air as to how it affects BSA in the long run. It could be months or even a year before we know for sure.

      • My only question for you after you took it there. Do your homework look at Canada and what’s going on with there scouting program in the last 20 years.

      • Well in Scouts Canada in 1992 membership was 256720 in 2012 it was 101283 . They are open to all. So if your think we would increase membership only time will tell. But I can tell you I don’t know much about scouts in Canada but news reports. But the memebership is up over the last few years.

        But I do wounder how this will affect scouts in the US. But only time will tell.

        I do hope the national leaders really do have a plan and are not reacting to numbers they see and made this change to try to keep the money in the same are so they don’t have to cut back there staff and there own salaries.

        I think they need to get to the rank and file and not talking to paid staff so they know what is really going on.

  13. This year has probably been one of my most disappointing in the BSA. First the policy change which national totally bungled. The “”We are listening ” campaign sickened me. 60% were against the policy change but national knew best. Then I attended the Summit. Three years of promises how great the white water rafting was going to be.World class we were told . Class 4 and 5 we were told. We got a float trip.
    What amazed me at the Summit was how often all of the zip lines were never manned because they didn’t have enough people to man them because you had to PAY for the privilege.RESULT A LOT OF DISCOURAGED BOYS & LEADERS. Is another $ 9 going to affect me or my boy? No< but it just seems that national is a group that can't shoot straight. It is another example of very poor planning and timing . I am in scouting because I love seeing my son and other youth have experience's that they would normally would not have. My advice, go to Philmont before national screws that up with their REBRANDING.

  14. Maybe I’m a little slow today, but where is this increase in costs being told to members? I didn’t see anything on the BSA website about this, nor on my Council’s website. I’ve got 70 Cubs and 25 adult leaders that we have already told what the next year was going to cost them (you know, doing a Pack planning meeting and budget during the summer like the BSA wants us to do). We even had a district meeting last night and the rumors were there but the district exec. “didn’t have the information on this yet”. So what gives? Where is the communication? How can there be an expectation of forward planning when all of the sudden the BSA is asking for more money in the next 4 months, especially since I JUST TOLD ALL MY PARENTS WHAT THE DUES WERE GOING TO BE FOR THE YEAR!

    On the same topic but a different note, the raising of costs by 140% in 4 years is unconscionable, especially without a significant addition of services. If I raised the costs to my Scouts and parents by the same % in the same time frame, while giving them nothing additional for the money, we wouldn’t have a Pack at all. There is obviously nowhere near enough accountability and/or ability in those running the BSA.

  15. Bryan – I think the worm can just got opened up wide.

    First – the program cost comparison used isn’t accurate. The $24 is all money to national. That’s $0 to fund the local unit; I don’t know enough about how money moves between councils and national to know if any of that $24 stays to fund the local council.

    Our pack spends about $100 per scout to deliver program each year, plus money charged for things like food when camping. Total cost of scouting is still a bargain compared to other youth programs, but this $24 (formerly $15) isn’t very tangible at the unit level, other than as an expense.

  16. My Cub Scouts don’t fall in many of those categories that they say the money is used for! So does that mean we can still pay the old recharter fees?!?! I bet not!!! I don’t understand why boys who are too young and are not included in most activities that BSA offers still have to pay what the older boys pay!

  17. Sorry for the wall of text, like many this has me a bit upset.

    In June we were notified there would be an increase, from national, of $4.00 per person for liability insurance. We were not thrilled but we budgeted for it in our annual planning. Now we are being told it will cost an additional $9.00 per person for “administrative expenses”?

    Last year we paid $33.00 per scout and $20.00 per Scouter, this year we will be paying $46.00 per scout and $33.00 per Scouter.

    If a unit follows BSA recomend they had their budget set in June or July. Almost universally the Scouting program year follows the school year, as a result many of us have already published our annual registration information, which is now $9.00 short. Our pack budget is now short by SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS! Do I cut corners? Do I increase fees after many families have already paid for the year?

    If BSA “…maintains a strong financial position,” then why is this not happening at a later dater so Units can budget for it?

    So let’s talk about what my $24.00 buys (I think they mean $33.00, but whatever…)

    1. liability insurance. This was communiccated to my unit in June as a seperate $4.00 per person increase.

    2. BSA Technical Platforms – It’s better then it was, but when the Tour plan cannot pull leader training from a seperate BSA database, not impressive… And the things you do to Council staff with Scoutnet should be considered hostile workplace.

    The worst BSA technology, in my opinion is internet advancement and its contradictions. Many of us use a package like Packmaster to avoid it, upload our data but it won’t accept Belt Loops & Pins from the text file. Troopmaster says BSA wont accept that data, but use the BSA web tool and you can input this data DEAR BSA MAKE IT EASY FOR ME TO BUY EXPENSIVE BELT LOOPS!!!!

    3. Programs & Tools for councils & camps? extensive financial counseling? Planned giving and fundraising info? Ignoring the camp stuff… You are notifying us of a 65% increase in fees and we should take your financial counseling seriously???

    4. Communication network – These should be paid for by the purchase of these books and magazines themselves? Are you seriously saying that a Handbook costs more to develop, print and distribute then the retail price?

    That Boys Life costs more then the advertisement fees and the subscription fee combined? This seems insane to me.

    5. Uniforms, equipment and supplies – These things should entirely be covered by their retail costs, especially considering the uniform is made overseas!

    Also, with the World Scout Crest being a required emblem, why is it not on every shirt like the American Flag?

    6. National High Adventure Bases, I imagine there needs to be some degree os subsidy, but dont they also qualify for open space grants? Environmental grants? The only big change in this space seems to be Bechtel.

    National meetings? Do they all need to be in person? Skype is free and a Scout is Thrifty.

    7. Communicate with chartered orgs? Our DE tries to speak with our Troop and our Packs Institutional Heads each year to keep in touch. I imagine National tries to cultivate new major Charter Organizations, but seriously, every unit has one, I am not aware of any new major Organizations coming on board, why is money spent in this area? Or do you mean to disucss policy changes like the change to Membership policy this past May?

    8. How expensive can it be to maintain these associations. I imagine there is some cost with face to face time, but how often does this occur?

    9 Program standards to ensure BRAND CONSISTENCY??? not to ensure we are meeting the Mission and Vision of the BSA? Does anyone else think this is absolutely the wrong priority?

    Then they actually tell us Scouting is a “steal” at $24 per year. If it were only $24 then why would we need to sell popcorn? They know what belt loops and patches cost, how much camps charge per scout per night, how much Philmont costs.

    So let’s see what it costs to be active in my Pack. This assumes one Cub, and your not a leader with your own uniform and other scout related expenses.

    The Shirt & Pants lets say $70 with patches depending on size (Webelos of course cost more) but this is good for say 3 years because we recomend they buy big so $24 per year

    Every year a new hat $13.00, neckerchief $7.00, slide $5.00 and book about $9.00. OR $34.00 per year.

    We go camping as a Pack 3 times a year at about $25 per person, A parent has to attend so $50 per family, per trip or $150.00 per year.

    We also do a variety of district sponsored day trips like Cub Mobile and Gold Rush, about $15.00 per head, add a parent for double that per event. so $60.00 per year.

    Our Pack annual fee is $120.00 some units are more, some les and they include a variety of different things, a discussion for another time.

    Assuming you participate in everything, a year in scouting, in my Pack is about $388. One week of summer camp is over $300 and not included in that price but many families do participate I have 2 boys in the pack, and I am the Cubmaster, we spend several hundred to participate in the pack each year.

    But that’s not all, my oldest son is a Boy Scout, and I am an ASM, it would not be ridiculous to say we spend more than $1400 on the Troop each year.

    I am also a District Scouter, I get to pay for that privelage in time and expenses.

    Make no mistake I do not begrudge ANY of these expense, seeing my sons enjoy something that had a profound impact on the man I became is worth every penny.

    BUT, other parents do not se it that way, I compete against other youth programs like:

    Little League – It is hard to convince parents Scouting will do mroe for your kids then baseball when they regularly make the regionals and have played in the Little League World Series.

    Football – our PAL program has coaches who have played in the NFL.

    Soccer – Northern NJ is very multicultural, Soccer is a huge sport here, they have a youth tournament that brings 25,000 players to town.

    The cost of any one of those sports is about the same as a year in Cub Scouts (I know because we do Football and Baseball also) And most families participate in several sports without flinching.

    So not only is the comparison of expenses Disingenious, it is pointelss. It is not the cost, it is the perceived value! I understand that my boys will be grown men who are self sufficient and productive men. But those other parents focus on scholarships to pay for the huge burden of college; or that their child will be the next star athelete and be able to take care of them in their old age.

    Further, the comparison is pointless when informing existing members of it, because they are already sold on the program, so like me, they are wondering how a major business like the BSA could have done such poor planning that they have a 65% increase in cost in one year!

    For the Record, if anyone from the BSA wants to give me a call and get my $0.02 then just call Al Thomas (The finest District Executive I have worked with) at Patriots Path Council and ask him for my contact info.

    Yours in Scouting,
    Adam Sonzogni
    Cubmaster, Pack 215
    Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 72
    Assistant District Commissioner
    Fishawack District in Patriots’ Path Council

    • Adam, you make many good points. I am curious, however, what the $120 annual fee for your pack covers, since it obviously doesn’t cover books, hats, neckerchiefs, unit camping trips, or district camping trips?

      Our pack does not charge an annual fee, only the actual recharter cost (youth only – pack pays for leaders). Their only fundraiser is popcorn sales. Scouts who attend district day camp have to pay that fee, but all other pack activities (food for camping trips – for the whole family, car kits for Pinewood, entry fee for district Klondike, cub admission to the hockey game or swim park, patches) are covered by the pack. Many years (depending on funds available), cubs are also given their handbook and neckerchief for the new year. If a boy sells above a set popcorn goal, the pack pays his recharter fee.

      • Hi MT_Momma,
        Our pack dues are not $120 – but $80. It covers things like new neckerchiefs as boys get a year older, new books each year, pinewood derby track rental, supplies for pack meetings, blue and gold, etc. Plus it has to cover the cost of all the myriad of awards, beads, patches, belt loops, pins, bling and flair that get stuck on the shirt of an eight year old. And we have to pay to rent space at the school. It all adds up pretty quickly. Popcorn and wreath sales help keep the cost down.

        • Thanks, db – I can see that rental fees would make costs go up significantly! We are fortunate to not have any fees for space or for derby track. Most of our camping areas also do not charge the pack a fee and we run our Blue & Gold as a potluck with the pack providing the main dish and cake. Sounds like your pack covers many of the same costs that ours does, so my guess is that the dues pretty much pay for rental fees.

          I was curious with Adam, since he listed neckerchiefs, handbooks, and food at campouts as specific costs to the families in addition to the $120 annual fee. Made me wonder what the $120 DID pay for…

      • I don’t know if I live in a depressed area or what….but no way would most of the boys/parents I know cough up $80+ for a troop membership. The troops I belong to charge about $20 more than National (which of course now brings it up to $44! where it was $30). The additional $20 is for badges and rank advancements, that’s all. The boys have to pay for all events: camp, klondike, monthly campouts (which might include additional fees such as a nightly charge where we camp, entrance to things like Six Flags, etc.). So, basically, I still want to know what benefit is that $24 to the individual scout/leader. I don’t see it.

  18. I too would like to comment on the timing of this. Most units have already set budgets for the 2013-2014 scouting year and informed parents of the costs for the year. For our pack based on 60 boys, this will be an additional $540 that we did not factor into our annual budget. I hate to say it but, the timing of this implementation shows a real disregard for unit committees and our annual unit budget setting process.

  19. I think the sentiments of most people are simply that $9 or even $14 is not that big of a deal IF you actually see the benefits of the increase. The fees to national are like a black hole IMO. Heck, I’d even be ok if the increase went to the council or district level (Lord knows those folks are over worked and under paid) BUT other than the crappy national site, disjointed reporting systems and buggy online training, I don’t see or use any “national” services.

    The cost increase for us is resulting in no new troop t-shirts next year since it’s the easiest thing to cut out of our already-established budget.

  20. Many and most excellent points have been made already, just look at the highest rated comments. Nice job fellow ‘Scouts’ ! Nationals action here reminds of the desperate attempts of the ‘former’ sound US post office, which is currently still going down the tube despite continuous price increases that make it less and less competitive…
    Please take all these good points to heart, and FIX IT. Be honest , forthright, transparent and more scout like in all aspects. Remember our mission, and be done with these outrageous fee increases !

  21. As a fellow scouter I just cringe at the thought of facing units that have already told the families what they need to pay for Recharter.School night season is all but over in our neck of the woods. Now they have to go back and ask for $9 more per registered member??? I agree with the comment that the increase should have waited til the 2015 charter year, so units could plan for it.
    I sure hope “they” know what they are doing….. this and the vote in one year is a lot to take.
    By the way I have 2 sons that are Eagles, I Life scout and both Daughters were in a Ship and Venturing. I LOVE scouting- but I never could have afforded these fees for 5 teenagers. Popcorn is great, but the public likes to buy from cute cubs not teens.

    I pray that Scouting will last another 100 + years.

  22. I only know from my Troop, we pay the $24.00 a year, then the $250.00 for summer camp, $10.00 for each camp out through out the summer, Spring Fall Camporees and Klondike derby who knows how much they will cost.
    Then you take into effect the adult that hauls the trailer full of camp geer around all year no pay for his gas, or the other adults that volunteeer their time to be on the camp out no reimbursement for them either..
    We give our time and money for all the Scouts we mentor just so Headquarters can get fatter wallets..

    I’m tired of it though, 10 years involved in Scouting..

    • WOW! Sounds like our area! I want to know what National does (or even council for that matter) for our boys….that is FREE. NOTHING. In our case, each campout is at LEAST $25 – so if two of you go (one boy, one parent – which is my case) – that’s $50 a month. $600 a year. Then there’s the clothing – we don’t even HAVE the pants. Shirts are $40-$50. Depending on age of boy – could have to replace those a number of times – if a cub – you definitely have to replace a number of times. Then there’s the badges at around $3 apiece and they even charge you for that stupid card that is proof you go the badge. Sorry, that should be INCLUDED. Rank badges are even more. Pins and belt loops are expensive. OA stuff is expensive. OA TRIPS are expensive (when you have to double the cost).

      Bottom line is that for one adult/one child a years’ involvement with BS is in the hundreds if not thousands, and that’s if they don’t do any high adventure stuff. If a family has more kids, then it goes up exponentially.

      I don’t mind paying memberships IF you can show me what I get for the money. We quit doing the Boys Life long ago. My grandson did not read it…it was a waste of money. The first year we didn’t want to do it, I did it anyway, so the troop would get the 100% patch, but the next 2 more boys decided not to, so no need.

      Just tell me where my boy will benefit from this increase and not line the rich pockets of the top level (our council members are not paid that well), then I won’t have a beef with it.

        • Well, I can’t say for sure how well paid, but I pretty much can say it is not six figures, lol. I don’t know if their pay is open record or not, but I do know we lose people to private industry. I don’t want to say which council, but I will give you the state – Missouri. Do you know something I don’t? Could be I’m very wrong.

    • Our scouts reimburse the drivers for fuel….The drivers show up with a full tank and then we fuel just before returning to the CO and divide by the participants. Nobody complains

      If your lad is at home he will eat….So sorry he has to pay for his food when he camps.

  23. for being a “non=profit” organization it sure seems to me that the administration is making money!!! I agree with so many of the previous comments! As a Scouter of 7 years with 3 boys in the program I am very frustrated with this increase. If the increase were to help the boys I would be all for it, but when it is all going to “admins” who are doing nothing but playing political games, it is not worth it! The people actually putting on the program and doing the real work of having successful units are VOLUNTEERS!!! So so many of us pay more than half the costs of our units activities out of our own pockets in addition to paying these fees that go to pencil pushers who don’t get their hands dirty actually working with the boys (and girls in Venturing units). So now we pay $24 in annual dues, $12 for Boy’s Life, then my council forces me to pay per enrolled family member for Friends of Scouting (when my previous council it was a voluntary pay) and we pay $5 per boy a month in Troop fees and we pay a fee plus $4 per meal for EVERY campout every month. Not to mention the $700+ I had to pay to send 2 of my boys to summer camp! So this “comparison” to other youth activities is garbage! At least those other activities the money benefits directly to the kids not a bunch of admins playing beurocratic games!!!!

    • So why are you paying for your unit activities out of your own pockets????

      The boys should be paying their own way…….If they cannot afford it then the adult leadership should step in and show the boys the unit finances and help them make more affordable program choices.

      • How’s a Tiger going to understand finances?

        I think this is more of a Pack issue than a Troop one. Packs work differently and have to interface with parents.

        And please don’t be condescending.


        • Anyl tiger scout knows that a bag of his favorite gummies cost $1… He knows that short of stealing that bag it will hang there until mom buys it or he has a $1 to buy it himself.

          So it isn’t a real big leap for the Cub scout families to be able to understand that the program has associated cost….

          It is sad that Pack Committees are not all that open about the Packs finances. This leads to what we have now….

          A bunch of folks scrambling around trying to figure out how to pay for it????

          Don’t explain it….It isn’t your fault….. Just print old waynes email and attach it to a letter from the committee chair and it’s done…..Parents can decide if belonging to scouting is worth it or not.

          It is not the fault of anyone on the unit level.

  24. How often do we even see any one from counsel?
    Our Troop hardly see’s them at all unless we are at an OA event or a mandatory meeting we have to drive hours to get to for a camporee. They say that money goes for uniforms? for who non of our Scouts ever got a discounted uniform, I have two Scouts in the program both Life Scouts, I can’t wait for them to be Eagle..

    • Exactly. I don’t understand how they can say the money has anything at all to do with clothing, badges, belt loops, rank patches or any other item worn by the boys and/or adults. No discounts (unless last year’s t-shirts), and not even reasonable costs. I can buy a dress shirt (male or female) at Kohl’s on clearance for less than $10. No, it won’t say BSA. I would honestly (I know it won’t happen) what do those shirts ACTUALLY COST National. They aren’t American made, so no doubt they are made in a sweat factory or something close to it (not that that is ok). Those poor people are probably getting less than 10 cents per shirt. My guess is they cost less than $5 to produce in the quantities they get them. That’s probably the high end. We are non-profit. The boys (aka parents) should get the benefits of the low costs of that production.

  25. We already published the fee for the year. Many of our families are hard pressed to pay what we asked in the first place. The cost has to come from some where. I will not take it our of program and I will not ask them for more.
    Only place I can cut is Boys life. Shame I always enjoyed reading the joke with my son but something as to give. Wonder if they have a 0% ribbon?

  26. How many units camp in caves, battleships, aircraft carriers, white water raft, canoe, climb commercial caves or rent lodges at national parks. on an on.

    All are high dollar and there are a couple of hundred response complaining about $9

        • Bob. Drop it. The amount the zoo costs doesn’t matter. We want transparency from the BSA. We want to know why they need to raise dues by 60%. It is not because of a normal increase in the cost of doing business. National is going from $57 Million in revenue from dues to $91 Million. Why?

        • You know that the BSA National will Never open its books. Making too big a stink about it will simply get your membership revoked.

        • You are probably correct. The BSA national corporation fails to learn from history. The truth will eventually get out. It will get out because an honest employee will report the truth. Or via gossip. Or a hacker penetrates the BSA network and finds the financial documents. If it is found out the BSA is lying, then there will be continued fallout. But the truth will eventually get out. Whether the BSA chooses to be honest about it NOW or not, then that is the corporations choice. The choice the decision makers choose will reflect the character of those making the decision.

        • In our case it was $20. Depends on the # of scouts and scouters. Why are you being such an *** about what everyone says? Everyone has said it’s not about the $9, it’s about the statistical increase without good reasons. When you buy a service such as a lawyer, you get an itemize account as to where every dime you paid them goes. I see no difference here. Same for medical expenses/doctors. They want our money, they need to show us why and where it goes…every penny, including salaries.

  27. I’m disappointed in the (thankfully few) comments that have tried to tie the increase in with the membership standards change. There’s no factual basis for that, period.

    But I agree with everyone that the timing was not good. There should have been much more advance notice. Our pack did our budgeting, printed our recruiting materials with our dues rates, and has already started collecting dues for this coming year. Our dues are $75 for the first Cub Scout, $63 for any others in the same family, and $30 for Arrow of Light. We are 100% Boys’ Life. The dues also pay for handbooks, neckerchiefs, Pinewood and Space derby kits, and all earned patches, pins and emblems; plus each den gets a set amount to use for den meeting expenses. We rely upon wreath and plant sales to cover the gap, and some of our dens request additional contributions. An unplanned $9 addition really blows a hole in our planning.

    • I only have one problem with charging fees for stuff the den/troop does. That child/boy may not be interested in some of those activities and therefore not benefit from that. The pack we were in had only about 20-30% boys taking part in the derbies (any of them). So to include the fees for the kits in every boys expenses wasn’t fair. They did find out how many wanted them and purchased them in bulk according to that amount. Even badge work is kind of unfair. Some boys get dozens of badges a year – mine did. But we had some boys in our troop who barely got 3 or 4….just enough to advance. So, doing what you guys do would have benefitted ME, lol. But it would not have the other boys.

      I’m not saying it’s wrong by any stretch. It keeps down paperwork and having to worry about whether to purchase something because that parent hasn’t paid for it, but yet you don’t want to dissapoint the boy at the ceremonies. I think in a large troop you would HAVE to do that, but not in a small one.

        • how is that a finance issue? It’s just a fact that not all boys take part in all the activities. Not saying don’t have a fee to cover all those activities – much simpler than making sure each one pays up each time. But some boys (cub and scout) will get the full benefit of all the activities and some won’t. It may be because they don’t WANT to, or it may be because they can’t get there for whatever reason.

          But I still don’t see how the finance committee has anything to do with what activities a boy takes part in.

        • So, are your camp outs free???? The lad pays per campout. Doesn’t go doesn’t pay.

          Same for summer camps, and all troop activities…..

      • mariahwwa, I agree that it is difficult to find an equitable way to finance materials without charging individually (and nickle and diming folks to death) for every item. In our pack, my son certainly got more than his fair share since he earned lots of segments and attended most activities (with both parents, generally). OTOH, he was also one of the top 5 popcorn sellers I think 4 of his 5 years in the pack. (Oh yeah, and both of his parents served as leaders in the pack.)

        Our troop doesn’t pool fundraising like our pack does. The first $300 that each boy raises goes directly into his Scout account. We do have troop dues to pay for expenses such as leader registration, troop management software, supplies like climbing ropes, canoes, etc. Individual activities are paid out of Scout accounts (as are dues) so boys who are more active pay more (but they also tend to participate more in the fundraisers).

        • Mine would have definitely benefited from the ‘everyone pays one fee’, as he now has over 75 badges – doing the math, rounding up, thats about $300 in badges! But we had some boys who didn’t earn but 3-5 badges a year, so that would have hurt them. We sucked at selling popcorn. But then I was a GS all the way through the equivalent of Eagle. I couldn’t sell GS cookies! Who doesn’t love GS cookies! I must have passed on that ‘not able to sell anything’ gene to my grandson, lol!

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