To ensure BSA has the resources to fulfill the promise of Scouting despite increasing operating costs, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America has made the difficult but necessary decision to increase the annual membership fee effective January 1, 2020 to $60 for Cub Scouts, Scouts, and Venturers, $36 for adult members and $60 for unit charter fees.
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 our 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.
The fee increases above are paid directly to the BSA. Including the $12 local insurance fee, that Heart of New England Council announced earlier this year, the recharter fees for 2020 will be:
- $60 for each unit charter fee
- $72 for each youth participant in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing
- $48 for each youth participant in Exploring
- $48 for each adult leader
The BSA will be sending out additional information through ScoutWire and Bryan on Scouting regarding their need for this increase. We realize that the timing of this increase is challenging for our units. Heart of New England Council’s board communicated our frustration regarding this process to the National Executive Committee. Our council will continue to provide need-based financial assistance that can help a family with financial barriers towards participation in Scouting.
We will also provide a method for your unit to request up to 3% in additional popcorn commission for units who need assistance managing this change. Details will be available in November.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is Scouting still a good value?
A: Absolutely! While most extracurricular activities are seasonal, Scouting is a year-round program that remains one of the most valuable investments we can make to support young men and women today so they can become the leaders we will turn to tomorrow. For most of our youth members, the new registration fee amounts to $6 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. Across the country and in our own community we know that Scouting remains one of the most valuable investments we can make to support young men and women today so they can become the leaders we will turn to tomorrow. From one-in-a-lifetime adventures, to merit badges that spark interests and future careers; from campouts under the start 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.
Q: How will these fees be used?
A: Every dollar of membership fees will go to cover the cost of essential services, including liability insurance for members participating in approved Scouting activities, 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 our councils nationwide.
Q: Why are the fees increasing now?
A: While costs increase every year, the Boy Scouts of America has worked to keep the annual membership fee as low as possible to make Scouting available to as many young people as possible by subsidizing core costs, including liability insurance we must carry to cover all official Scouting activities. As the organization’s financial situation has shifted over the past several months, it is no longer possible to subsidize at the level we have in the past, especially as the cost of insurance has increased dramatically.
Q: Does this apply to youth members and volunteers?
A: Yes, the new fees apply for youth and adult members. Effective January 1, 2020, the new fees are:
- $72 for youth members in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts,
- $48 for youth members in Exploring, and
- $48 for adult members (includes cost of background check and Scouting Magazine)
- $60 for unit charter fees
Q: Is this increase being implemented to cover the cost of the additional background checks?
A: No, the cost of background checks is not the prompting the fee increase.
Q: Why is this being announced now?
A: 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 they would not make this difficult decision if it were not absolutely necessary. The Heart of New England Council Board has communicated our frustrations to the BSA National Executive Committee.
Q: Is financial assistance available?
A: We are committed to ensuring that all youth can experience the character-building benefits of Scouting regardless of their financial situation. Heart of New England Council has assistance available (see links above) for registration, uniforms, and camp. Our board has also approved units to apply for an additional 3% additional popcorn commission to assist with hardships regarding this increase. In addition the BSA has established the donor-funded Growing Future Leaders Fund to provide financial support to those who need it.
Q: Our council recently announced a new fee to cover insurance. Does this change mean that fee is no longer necessary?
A: 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.
Q: What measures has the BSA taken to offset the financial challenges?
A: In addition to ongoing efforts to streamline and simplify the organization, the BSA 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.
Q: Will this happen again?
A: 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.