BSA membership fee to change beginning Jan. 1, 2020

Starting next year, the Boy Scouts of America membership fee will be $60 a year for all registered youth in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts. The annual fee for adult members and youth in the Exploring program will be $36.

While costs to the organization have increased every year, the Boy Scouts of America has worked to keep the annual membership fee as low as possible by subsidizing core costs, including liability insurance the BSA must carry to cover all official Scouting activities.

Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to subsidize these costs at levels in the past, especially as the cost of insurance has increased dramatically. The BSA kept the cost low to make Scouting available to as many young people as possible but keeping the cost artificially low for many years now magnifies the impact of changes.

Across the country, Scouting remains one of the most valuable investments that can be made to support youth. From once-in-a-lifetime adventures to merit badges that spark interests and future careers; from campouts under the stars to service projects that leave a lasting impact on our communities; Scouting’s year-round program expands horizons and provides young people with a safe and welcoming place to learn, grow and thrive. It has been Scouting’s mission for more than 100 years to instill the timeless ideals of the Scout Law to help young people address and overcome challenges in their lives and the issues facing their generation.

To ensure the BSA has the resources to fulfill the promise of Scouting despite increasing operating costs, the National Executive Board made the difficult, but necessary decision to increase the annual membership fee effective January 1, 2020.

What does the fee cover?

Every dollar of the national membership fee will go toward the cost of essential services, including liability insurance for those participating in approved Scouting activities, program resources, safety standards, youth protection and personal safety training, and services to councils nationwide to sustain Scouting.

The national organization will also continue to develop and improve resources that support volunteers and youth members such as online registration, Member Care and Scoutbook, which now includes the Den Leader experience to ensure the safe and consistent delivery of Cub Scouting; as well as improvements aimed at simplifying the annual renewal process.

Your questions answered

Why are the fees increasing now?

As the BSA’s financial situation has shifted over the past several months, it is no longer possible to subsidize core costs at the level in the past, especially as the cost of insurance has increased dramatically.

Does this fee apply to youth members and volunteers?

Yes, the new fees apply for youth and adult members. Effective January 1, 2020, the new fees are:

  • $60 for youth members in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts,
  • $36 for youth members in Exploring, and
  • $36 for adult members (includes cost of background check and Scouting magazine)
  • $60 for unit charter fees

Is Scouting still a good value?

Absolutely! For most youth members, the new registration fee amounts to $5 a month, which is an enormous value when you consider that many seasonal extracurricular activities often start at $100 for programs that last a few weeks.

What will the money be used for?

Every dollar of membership fees will go to cover the cost of essential services, as well as background checks for adult leaders, program development and training resources, continuously updated youth protection and youth safety training, improved IT/digital experiences and services to councils nationwide.

Is this increase being implemented to cover the cost of the additional background checks?

No, the cost of background checks is not the prompting the fee increase.

Why is this being announced now?

The BSA recognizes the timing of this fee increase creates challenges as units have already begun collecting fees for their 2020 registration renewal process, and BSA leadership would not make this difficult decision if it were not absolutely necessary. The BSA is committed to supporting its members through this process and is making necessary adjustments to the online rechartering system to ensure units can carry out the recharter process.

Does this increase cover financial challenges the organization is facing?

The increase was prompted because the cost of liability insurance the BSA must carry to cover all Scouting activities has increased dramatically over the past several months, and the organization is no longer able to offset the cost of insurance. The fee enables the BSA to continue essential services.

When will this increase take effect?

The new membership fees will take effect starting January 1, 2020 for the 2020-21 program year.

Is financial assistance available?

The BSA is committed to ensuring that all youth can experience the character-building benefits of Scouting regardless of their financial situation. In addition to the many existing council and unit membership assistance funds, the BSA has established the donor-funded Registration Assistance Fund to provide financial support to those who need it.

My council recently announced a new fee to cover insurance. Does this change mean that fee is no longer necessary?

No, the liability insurance that the BSA needs to carry for all Scouting activities at the national level is different from local fees that are collected to address local needs, which can include such as local property and accident insurance, as well as unique local programming costs.

In addition to the national membership fee, my council is implementing a program fee. Is that allowed?

Starting August 1, 2020, councils can choose to charge a local program fee, up to but no more than the national membership fee – up to $60 for youth members in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts; up to $36 for youth members in Exploring and up to $36 for adult members. The local program fee can include local insurance costs (i.e., accident, property, etc.), as well as cost to administer unique local programming efforts.

What happens if my council’s program fee is more than the national membership fee?

Councils that are currently charging a program fee more than the national membership fee have one year to adjust their fees in order to be in compliance with the new rules.

What measures has the national organization taken to offset the financial challenges?

In addition to ongoing efforts to streamline and simplify the organization, the national organization has taken a number of steps in addressing its financial challenges, including the recent elimination of more than 35 positions at the National Service Center and ongoing consolidation of departments for the most effective utilization of resources in support of Scouting.

Will the national membership fee continue to increase?

Although no decision about future increases has been made, the cost of operating our organization and services increases every year. Should it be necessary to increase fees in the future, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America has agreed to evaluate the needs and make such decisions, whenever possible, at the National Annual Meeting in May or early in the summer so that they can be announced with as much lead time as possible to allow for councils and units to be able to plan accordingly.

About Michael Freeman 134 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.