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How much does a year of Scouting really cost?
With the 81% increase (from $33 to $60) in annual dues imposed by the BSA national organization starting in January 2020, there has been plenty of hand wringing, teeth gnashing, and hair pulling in angst, anguish, and apprehension.
So, I was curious just how much that mandatory fee increase really affects the full cost of being involved in Scouting for a year. I made a poll to collect data from Scouting families.
The data is only what people estimate and share, and won't exactly match your situation, but it gives a rough idea of what others out there are spending to have youth involved in Scouting.
With 182 Cub Scout responses and 247 Scouts BSA responses, as of today, here's how the annual costs look:
- Cub Scouts costs about $550 and Scouts BSA costs about $950 - this does not include uniform costs
- Almost half have a council fee of $27 on average
- About 70% have an additional unit fee of $67 on average
- About 90% of Cub Scouts go to a summer camp costing $164 on average while virtually all Scouts BSA members do summer camp costing $334 on average
A few things that I found surprising:
- Weekend campouts cost around $35 each and the average scout attends almost 10 each year.
- Only a quarter of troops do their own high adventure outings. But, a scout will attend them every year or two and they cost around $425.
- Less than half of troops use the BSA high adventure bases, and a scout will spend about $1625 every 3.5 years to attend.
The bottom line is that the $30 BSA fee increase is around a 5% raise in the average cost of scouting for Cub Scouts and 3% for Scouts BSA. The impact is more significant on Cub Scout families just getting started.
Go ahead and have a look at the results page for more numbers.
I'll modify the survey and ask again next year. If you have some suggestions, feel free to email them (or comment).
Are you curious what a typical year of Scouting really costs? I am.
There's been quite a bit of chatter about the national BSA membership fee increase that goes into effect in a couple months.
Jumping from $33 to $60 is a huge percentage increase (like 90%!), but I expect it is more of a blip in the grand scheme of Scouting expenses.
I created an anonymous survey that asks for your input. No email or other personal info is needed, just your honest best estimates.
I'll share the results here in a couple weeks - data such as the average council fee, average unit fee, average cost of high adventure treks.
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I believe all Scouting units should support each other with the intent that all youth get the opportunity to experience Scouting. Some troops in a community see other troops as competition and refuse to help the other units improve. By having all units improve, Scouting improves, and more youth will tend to participate - maybe not participate in your unit, but still be in Scouting.
Providing the framework for, and attitude of, Cooperation rather than Competition, the youth leaders of your units can gain more skills and improve Scouting for their fellow Scouts. A periodic gathering of leaders is a fun, easy, and inexpensive way to do that.
Once each quarter, all SPLs and ASPLs are invited to gather and share what they have done, share what they have planned, and ask questions of the group. I call it a Silver and Gold Party because of the SPL and ASPL patches, but call it whatever you think would draw participation.
The Hook: How do you entice youth to participate? Pizza, rootbeer floats, sundaes, 6-foot sub, .. - around $2 per person that each participant should bring. If bling is your thing, maybe a gold star or some such device to pin on their position patch for each party they attend.
The Line: How does knowledge get shared? Each SPL takes only 1-2 minutes to talk about their troop's recent activities and what they have coming up in the next 3 months. The leader lists activity titles on a whiteboard. After all the presentations, anyone can ask questions about activities - how well it worked, planning involved, what to do different next time, and the like.
The Sinker: How do the troops improve? SPLs commit to taking ideas back home. These could be "Gee, it looks like we're doing everything right!" or "Hey, over at Troop XXX they're going to YYY this summer!" The youth learn from each other how their counterparts are doing things and pick up tips, ideas, and enthusiasm.
The Grab Bag: Allow an open time for scouts to ask each other for advice on any Scouting topic - How do you get scouts to be quiet? Are your new scouts as weird as ours? How do you handle electronics? What's a good lights out time? They can ask advice about anything they're finding to be a challenge.
For the first couple parties, someone (probably the adult organizing this) leads the gathering, but having a different troop's SPL lead it each quarter is best. Holding it at each troop's meeting place lets everyone see the "home turf" of other units and get ideas.
If done each quarter, then SPLs in troops that elect every 6 months can attend twice.
With 5 troops, set aside 5-10 minutes for ice breaker and showing off the host troop's meeting area, 5 minutes to get food, 10-15 minutes for SPL reports, 15 minutes of QnA, 10 minutes of discussion, 5 minute wrap-up, and out of there in under an hour.
If your scouts have already earned the Exploration merit badge and are looking for something more interesting, it's your lucky day!
The Tattoo Merit Badge was just announced and the merit badge pamphlet is available in scout shops and as electronic download.
If you email in the results of your requirement #8 project, I'll post it with the others I've received like these:
With all the changes and updates being done for the "Boy Scouts" to "Scouts BSA" migration, this merit badge has not yet been added to the official list on scouting.org but should be there soon. Two other merit badges in that same state of limbo for a few years now are the Walking merit badge and Hunting merit badge. Please ensure your scouts are aware of these additional badges, especially if they are trying to earn them all.Scout On!
Check out Cub Scout Super Achiever patches
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Are you just waking up from your winter hibernation?
Did you put off finding a summer job for too long?
With all your leadership qualities, outdoors skills, and interpersonal communications learned in Scouting, many opportunities are out there for you to work in exciting, adventurous settings.
Whether you are a high school or college student, or looking for full-time work, there are many needs across the country that you can take on. Here are a few...
All the BSA high adventure bases need staff every year. It's getting late, but you still might have time to grab a spot at:
More BSA jobs:
Outside of the BSA program, there are even more jobs that a Scout might find interesting, challenging, and rewarding:
- Boundary Waters Outfitter
- Appalachian Trail Ridge Runners interact with A.T. hikers to improve the trail experience.
- National Park Service has thousands of outdoor jobs.
- Forest Service
- Coolworks lists outdoor jobs
If you don't want to work this summer, you could Hike a Long Trail or Bike across the country.
Or, you could always stock shelves at the local grocery store. I did it, most boring job I ever had.
You can get a Super Achiever patch for all Cub Scouts in each rank that earn all Adventure pins. The Webelos patch has been available for awhile, but now there's a patch for Lion, Tiger, Wolf, and Bear.
This Super Achiever patch is not an official advancement award, but is a popular way to recognize scouts that do more than the rank requirements.
See the Super Achiever patch order page.
With females officially joining the Scouts BSA program today, I look forward to helping them get as much as they can out of their scouting experience. Most of my involvement is currently with adult leaders preparing for high adventures, but I anticipate some volunteer opportunities to help female scouts with outdoor skills.
It has been entertaining to see many adult leaders and female scouts-to-be on news feeds, interviews, and web articles as they anticipate this date. It's an exciting time to be in the first wave of a new program.
We now get to see how the substantial changes to the organization over the past couple years affect national and local scouting. Will membership explode or speed up its decline? How will the percentage of male/female membership swing, and will it capsize all the way over, or just rock back? Will females be treated the same as males, forced to higher standards by uncooperative old guard, or let slide by with a wink and nod to advance quickly? Will co-ed dens, troops, and patrols soon be the norm?
2019 looks to be yet another interesting year for Scouting in America. Best of luck to all those new Scouts signing up or crossing over.
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