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.