2020 - Feb
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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).
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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 123 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.
Lack of adequate Personal and Camp hygiene is a common problem on outings, and something that is easy to prevent. With a little education and effort, no one should get sick when out in the wilds.
First, a few common problems encountered by long-distance hikers on the Appalachian Trail:
- Sharing Food - once someone touches their food, it is contaminated with their germs. If you finish off someone else's extra tater tots, oreos, or whatever, you ingest their germs. Only take what you will eat, and eat what you take.
- Not Washing Hands - dirt on your hands is easy to see and easy to wash off with just water. Rather than the visible dirt, it's the invisible germs, filth, and human waste that cause more problems. Even when hands look clean, you really should wash after using the bathroom and before dealing with any food. This is considered by many as the most common cause of illness in the outdoors.
- Sleeping in Close Quarters - sickness you have growing inside you can spread through the air from exhaling, sneezing, or coughing. When many people are packed in a small space, such as a shelter, tent, or cabin, they all breathe much of the same air. Two-person tents, or open-air sleeping, reduces the confinement problem.
- Insect-borne Disease - in North America, mosquitoes are spreading diseases such as West Nile and Zika, but they are still relatively rare. Lyme disease from ticks is much more common, and spreading. Treating clothes, checking for ticks often, and using insect repellant or bug clothes greatly reduce the chance of contracting these diseases.
- Water-borne Disease - everyone drinks treated water from the faucet at home, and they know wild water can be contaminated. Knowing the proper way to use a treatment method, and performing the task correctly, is the simple way to stay safe. Skipping treatment "just this once", dropping a filter in the water, not waiting for chemicals, or any number of other excuses cause much discomfort on the trail.
A key area of camp hygiene that scout groups tend to perform regularly is the washing of dishes and cooking equipment. Even though it is done every meal, people still get sick because there is some hard-to-stop misinformation about the proper way to wash dishes at camp. If there is one helpful thing you can do for your scout group, it is to teach, promote, and check on proper dishwashing technique.
- Pre-wash - eat, lick, and scrape off all visible food bits. When dishes get to the next step, they should already look fairly clean.
- Wash - a bucket of hot water and soap to scrub everything off the dishes. Shake all the water off before passing to next step.
- Rinse - a bucket of hot water to rinse off anything lingering behind, like soap.
- Sanitize - a pot of cool water containing chlorine or iodine. Soak for 30 seconds. Chlorine can be a shorter time, but it won't hurt to be longer.
- Air Dry - set dishes upside down on a towel or clean surface to drip dry for 30 minutes or more. Wiping dry with a common towel will spread germs from one dish to the next.
The common misinformation is switching the Sanitize and Rinse pots, or using hot water in the Sanitize pot. It doesn't make sense to rinse after sanitizing, just let the dishes air dry. Using hot water with the sanitizing chemicals makes them less effective.
This proper way to wash dishes is not something I made up. The CDC, ServSafe, every state health department, and Canada recommend the same process.
A few other tips for dishwashing:
- Wash cleanest things first, such as glasses and utensils, working your way to the dirtiest last which are probably the cooking pots.
- To dispose of the wash water, use a screen strainer to catch bits. Strain pot #1. Pour pot #2 into #1 and strain again. Pour pot #3 into #2, then into #1, and strain again. This gets your pots clean, too.
- Dispose of wash water into a sump, or broadcast it away from camp - depending on your camping location.
- Dishwashers should wash their hands well after doing the dishes.
The BSA has created a Dishwashing video - pretty lame, but has the right steps.
So, do your scouts a favor and share proper dish washing techniques to keep everyone happy, healthy, and hungry.
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Nature Conservancy. All opinions are 100% mine.
The holidays can become times of excess - so many big meals, so many parties, so many presents to buy, and not enough time to put up decorations, hit the sales, or attend the plays and productions. While putting in all the effort to make the holidays fun for all, it's easy to overlook the long-term environmental damage we may do. As Scouts, we should take the time to look and try to minimize our impact.
Last week, I helped our pastor pick out and set up six Christmas trees in our sanctuary. Those trees were harvested from a commercial forest where they had been absorbing carbon dioxide, storing carbon, and putting out oxygen for years, as well as providing cover for wildlife. In the empty spots where they stood, new trees are being planted. Many BSA troops sell trees as a fundraiser. We got the trees for church from a local BSA troop that uses the church as their tree lot. After Christmas, our city recycles trees left by the curb, but I do know scouts across the country pick them up and recycle them as a fundraising service.
Other troops sell wreaths. We've bought a wreath every year and I dismantle them when they're no longer needed in January. I compost the greens, recycle the metal, and re-purpose the pair of pine cones that come on each one. We've now got a couple of pine cone trees that help decorate outside our home, and another gradually being made.
A big part of Scouting is getting out in nature, learning about it, enjoying it, and conserving it. My two Eagle Scout sons and I have enjoyed literally hundreds of days and nights in the great outdoors and we do try to ensure it will be available for future scouts. There are many other organizations besides the BSA that work to protect our world, sometimes doing a better job than us. The Nature Conservancy, for example, has priorities that align with Scouting.
The Nature Conservancy has been helping keep spaces natural for over 65 years and has a mission to "conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends". They've protected well over 100,000,000 acres of land. Taking a bit from the Outdoor Code, they want to help us be more conservation-minded this year, and have created a useful Holiday Green Guide with good ideas to consider. Download the guide by entering your name and email to find out the best way to be a little greener this holiday season. By reading the guide and keeping the handful of easy tips in mind, you can have a happy holiday and help the earth.
One of their tips is to use natural decorations when possible. Another is to help you with gift ideas. Buying presents just because it's time to buy presents can result in piles of "stuff" that doesn't get used and eventually gets donated or thrown away. Certainly give gifts, but be sure they are wanted. For those people like me that no longer have a Christmas list, giving a unique and interesting Symbolic Gift can be a good option. Symbolic gifts are typically monetary donations to an organization that the recipient supports, and the recipient receives some small item explaining what was given in their name. For example, through The Nature Conservancy, you can donate and have the recipient receive a certificate and bookmark about bison, orangutan, sea turtle, or other wildlife that the gift helps to protect.
My wife and I have been giving symbolic gifts for years and this year we've asked our two sons to try it for gifts to us. Find out more about having a greener holiday by downloading the Holiday Green Guide - it will at least give you a few interesting topics to keep the conversations going at all those parties in the next few weeks.
You can win $1400 in backpacking gear by entering this giveaway by Friday. The sponsors include a dozen brands like Sawyer, Black Diamond, and Patagonia that I'm sure you know well.
Enter at this page and you just need to use an email and first name - no other info.
Prizes include sleeping bag, pad, backpack, hiking poles, headlamp, food, water treatment, and clothing - pretty much everything needed to be the envy of everyone on the trail, or at Philmont next summer!
Good Luck, and Scout On!
PS: You might as well enter MY monthly give-away before Friday, too. 3 winners every month.
Well, this is big news!
Bear Grylls has been appointed as the Chief Ambassador of the World Scout Movement. Very cool for Bear, eh?
Not only that, he is the FIRST Chief Ambassador. I've not found much detail about the position yet, but it's a volunteer spot to promote Scouting worldwide.
Bear was in New York performing his first official act which was to launch Scouts for SDGs. Maybe he'll make more appearances in the USA in the coming year.
Jen is a friend of mine here in Minnesota. She is a super role model for scouts, and women interested in expanding their outdoor adventures. It is no wonder the BSA has done a Scout Me In video featuring her fun and positive persona!
I have had the privilege of hiking with Jen and her scouts, and I enjoy following her personal and scouting adventures through her social media: blog, instagram, and facebook. Her evolution from newbie backpacker to lightweight trekker is an interesting read on her blog.
Here is the BSA video about Super Jen...
Scout On, and Scout Me In!
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