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Are we pricing Scouting away from families?

In recent years the National fee has increased significantly, local councils have tacked on their own ‘service & insurance’ fees(locally our council charges $46), a $25 ‘new member fee’ has been added, the cost of a ‘basic’ uniform without pants but with insignia and a handbook can hit $100 and we have not even added the local unit expenses or activity/program fees. A week of Scout Camp can exceed $400 per Scout/Leader. The first year cost for one child can easily exceed $400, multiple children and/or a parent volunteering can bring the expenses to $800 or more annually for a family in Scouts without long term camp. Young families and especially single parent households (roughly 1 in 3 children is in a single parent household) generally have the fewest discretionary dollars. Unit fundraising only goes so far and is often too late and too little to address the high cost of just joining. How do we counter this?


Most councils have need based aid for summer camp.

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In my area at least, most families who could use that aid simply do not ask and do not go.


The answer to your question is “yes.”

If you know a benefactor who will contribute to the costs of background checks and legal defense, their generosity in this era would go a long way to bringing registration fees to last century’s levels.


My council charges $180/scout including National fees and $42/leader. They will provide assistance to any Scout that needs it. They have said no youth will denied membership due to inability to pay. They have also eliminated Family Friends of Scouting.


I used to be one of those kids that could barely afford scouting but I had awesome leaders that made sure I could participate and enjoy scouting no matter what. Now that I’m a cub master I try to keep the cost down to a minimum for my families. We have a fundraiser in the fall to cover registration and fundraise in the spring to cover day camp. I have never made any parent get a uniform and supply every kid with a pack t shirt every year. Every outing we do, I try to keep it at under $20 a person. I have families that have no problem affording stuff and I have some that do struggle. It’s all about the actions you take as a leader to make sure that every kid can enjoy scouting.


The Cub Master for our feeder Pack that I was a Den Leader with turns every Pack Meeting into a mini-fund raiser. (Pre-Covid when we could have big gatherings). He had a deal with one of the local Pizza Parlors to have the Pizza’s cut with extra slices that he would sell for a dollar a slice, had a snow cone machine which is essentially selling air for profit since the Ice was free sold pastries and families would plan their dinner as part of the Pack meetings. He had a slide show while people ate and after about a half hour of eating and fellowship the meeting would begin…The Snow cone machine alone is a gold mine because a kid will eat a snow cone when’s 15 below outside.


The higher costs are certainly not helping. I think that HOW a troop spends the money has a lot to do with it too. They need to remember that the scouts earn the money so the scouts should be able to spend the money. Our troop (with plenty of money in the bank) decided this year that they needed new tires on the troop trailer and wheel bearings done. Not because they need them, but because the tires are nearly 5 years old. They only have a few thousand miles on them! But apparently it’s better to spend a grand on that than to pay the $5 per kid to go swimming (shortly after the committee voted to buy tires, we had a swimming party but the troop required the scouts to pay their own way in). That was the tipping point for me. My kids were good fundraisers but we didn’t bother this year. If the troop doesn’t spend the money on the kids, why should we bother raising money?

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I totally agree with your comments.

We are pricing out the normal families for scouting activities summer camp and
Normal outing
My troop charges $25 or more plus food money $20 or more for a typical hiking trip/camping
Any money left over from the food shopping trip is placed back in the troops funds

Our troop.does not supply the new new scouts anything free. They are required to pay for all clothing,books and hats

Is this normal in all troops?


John - even with the higher costs the program is not as expensive as many other items such as sports, even including Summer Camp. The difference is that we have benefactors that help us ensure cost is not a barrier. I understand JGalle’s point that many families wont ask, but in our troop we have learned how to make the gentle offer of help in private.

Now I will add to the chorus that seeks to have the organization be more thrifty. In 2019 BSA completed 4 CORI’s on me as I held 4 different positions between the Troop, District and Council, and that’s 3 CORI fees too many.


At one point I saw a stepped schedule for future projected national fee increases although I can’t locate it. Does anyone else remember seeing that? As I recall, the increases were much more modest but that schedule did show them occurring every year for the next few years.

I think part of the issue with rising scout fees is that 1) many people feel as if they are paying for the bankruptcy and 2) they are currently paying more during Covid while often getting less. Other youth organizations have actually discounted fees to some degree during this same time period.

Scouts though does need to look at ways to economize. Less costly uniform options would be a no brainer first step, plus looking at some areas of the requirements or badges where expenses are incurred, like cooking, to see how thrift could be encouraged.

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Monthly subscription.

The number one rule in marketing is to eliminate barriers to entry. Before Dad can be a member he has to swear he is not a pedophile, take a background check, pay $80 and finish YPT before he can even start. And then he has to talk with his Scout every year about being bullied, sexually assaulted and avoiding climbing trees.

The barriers are too high… and when you throw in stagnant income growth in a shrinking middle class, Scouting will be a program for the affluent if it survives at all.


The Cradle of Liberty council covered the fee increase this year for their units to give them a year to adjust and accumulate the funds needed to recharter. Some councils charge little or nothing to their units while others charge fees for insurance and services. My council has lost 75% of it’s staff over the past two decades, sold off camps and closed two offices. Fees have gone up 400%… That is the reality but for those that believe that Scouting is still the best program for kids they will find a way. Set a monthly ‘dues’ to be paid at pack or troop meetings, plan one or two really good fund raisers, maintain a uniform bank… There are ways to control some costs. Don’t give up the ship…

It isn’t a matter of giving up the ship to hope that scouts looks at ways to reduce extraneous costs. At its core all scouting needs is a book, a group of boys, a couple of leaders, and the great outdoors. Everything else is Christmas Tree bling. Adults make it expensive.

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the pricing is getting out of control, yes we are pricing scouting away from families, especially this year

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Let’s be honest what we are paying for with Scouting today. Lawyer and Lawsuit, due to the SIN’s of the Past Leaders in Scouting. They didn’t keep the house clean and hid the issues, now the Scouts of today have to pay to clean up the mess. We all wish this would just go away, but it will not. It keeps coming back. Hopefully, BSA running all the ads and declaring bankruptcy, it will be over. Don’t get me wrong, I feel sad for those that were abused when they were Scouts. But remember this many was happening in the 70’s and 80’s when I was a Scout. Those Leaders are now in their 70’s that should have been punished in a court of law, not the Scout Council office. The people making those decision to not turn these cases over to the authorities, are in their 90’s or no longer walking this earth to see what the mess they created for BSA today.


No, our Troop has a real good fundraiser during the Summer months. It pays for Summer Camps (except the MB Class fees), plus the cost on going on Camp outs. The only this the boys have to pay for is food. We are lucky we have such a good fundraiser. We were not able tohave it this Summer due to COVID-19 so will have to see what Camp cost look like this Summer.

I am not sure the program is pricing kids and families out, I think the fact that the BSA requires large lump sums is the problem. We teach Personal Management and budgets but new Scouts have to fork out $103/Scout. The fundraising is still viable - our mulch sale covers 90% of Summer Camp and we are adding camp cards that actually make the unit have excess reserves to help you with uniforms and monthly camping expenses, etc.

I wish the BSA would get rid of the recharter every year. Charter the unit once and then pay an on-going monthly fee to BSA for being a member. This would be cash flow positivities for the national council, make it easier for families to access the program and even allow youth to step away if necessary and then rejoin without penalty.

Every time a fee is increased, a penalty is applied, you create barriers to entry. We should tear down as many of them as we can.

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yes, John, you are seeing the start of this trend. I became a commissioner in 1974. back then the prices were less but so were the earnings per hour. But ‘back then’ the council had some fun raisers and they got ‘business’ to contribute to the program each year with ‘community fund drives’.
But my council and district have gotten away from this. No body wants to go out and ‘sell’ (ask for donations for the) Boy Scout Program.
Over the past decade, council fundraisers have been looking more for donations to the endowment fund. They don’t want to organize a local business/community drive. instead they have started to hit the scouting families for more money, even as the council claims that ‘we have money for underpriflidged kids and we want them in so we look good for diversity.
over the last few year, our professiona’ fund raisers changed jobs several time a year. we got new ones in that seems only to be here until they found a better paying job with another council or in the business world. my council now has a quote for each unit. either you have X amount for friends of scouting money for each child (per child) or we won’t register or reregister your unit this year.
several of the volunteers (and parents) have tried to talk to the council but, “I’m sorry you feethat way but we (the council exec and God) have decided this way is better.” since they don’t want to LISTEN , some are (families, individuals and volunteers) are either leaving or being pushed out of the program.

Next week we are going to have our district business meeting, Council had decided that we get to ‘vote’ on two questions A. Of the 31 members at large all of two of them will be dropped. None of them were called by the district or the council, "we just decided we have too many and will appoint or reappoint some of them later this year. You can be sure that no one that isn’t ready to ‘kiss the ring’ will be asked back. B. We are asked to vote “yes” on ‘no chairman’ who will be appointed by the scout executive later in the year.
Yes there is trouble in River City, right here in River City (thank you Music Man). But the professionals are more interested in what;s good for them instead of listening to the parents, youth and volunteers…
a commissioner of 47 years and 62 years of scouting registration.

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To be clear, you are claiming that your Scout Executive in your Council has created a FOS quota and that unless the unit raises funds up to that quota the unit will not be rechartered?