Scouting Forums

Membership Increase For 2020?

The message from National was “more details will be release on Oct 23”. Your DE jumped the gun on this. He’s either speculating (and worse, making it look like official communication if he’s sending it on BSA letterhead) or he has info that he wasn’t supposed to share yet (perhaps because it isn’t finalized).

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The National Executive Committee has not voted yet. That’s why the information has not been released yet.


Heck, I’d even settle for having gotten that message (i.e. more to come 23 Oct). The last time I talked to my DE, he didn’t know anything more than I did. Is there an online source for the 23 Oct letter? I’d like to pass it along to my committee, since we’re in the throes of trying to figure out what we’re doing about potential dues increases. At least having an official date would be good, even though it’s coming soon.

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There was a letter from Mike Surbaugh, the National Scout Executive last month. Our council posted it on their site, and emailed it to all the Key3’s.

Here’s the text of it (from the Michigan Crossroads Council website):

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Thanks, @SteveCagigas. I hadn’t seen the date at the bottom.

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It’s hard to not speculate with all of the secrecy from the BSA. In their general announcement of a fee increase, they could have used word tracks like " it will only be a slight increase", or “the fee will not exceed the amount of XXXX” if the fee was not going to be drastic.

While hopeful, I’m expecting a substantial increase in the 50+% or higher range.

While I truly feel scouting is the best youth program, it could price itself out of the reach of some families. If you have multiple scouts and and adult leader or two you are going to take a hit in the wallet. Oh yeah…It’s also coming down at Christmas time and that’s another financial burden to place on families late noticed.

The BSA should have given Troops several months in order to do a down payment program. Not all Troops can simple eat the hike and this is going to cause scouting families to leave the program if it’s a huge jump.


Speculation doesn’t help anything; it only creates more worry.

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@WilliamC - the primary thing is to negotiate the liability insurance contract and avoid excess and surplus lines which is priced on what the traffic will bear. Keeping the liability costs manageable in a caustic environment is not easy. I do however find it amusing to see the Philadelphia lawyers still alive and kicking.

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Unfortunately, in the absence of facts, speculation is all you have when such a poorly timed and incomplete announcement was issued. The BSA yet again has created this atmosphere of speculation and “worry” in their lack of information.


@WilliamC - I belong to several different organizations and out of all of them the BSA has modified its fees less often. To assume that the cost of doing business should remain at 1940’s levels is unlikely and unrealistic. I should be upset that a gallon of gas is no longer 27 cents. But seriously running any organization has its costs. Are there opportunities to trim expenses sure, but the user base wants on line documents, web pages, support of every imaginable award…guess what…that has a cost.

Personally the expense of building the pyramids was more than I could afford at the time.


The issue is NOT that the costs are going up. The issue is planning. For many units the program year begins in August or September. We tell out parents what the program will cost. Then the BSA decides just before recharter that they need to raise the cost by some unknown amount. This cost SHOULD HAVE BEEN KNOWN.

The truth is that if BSA didn’t know this was happening, then the BSA is in financial troubles that they are hiding from us. Meanwhile the volunteer is out dealing with realities of the program.


The BSA has a number of financial issues that simply weren’t known a year ago… They’ve been working at National since early this year on finding ways to mitigate the new financial risks that have appeared this year, and trying to do so without affecting the program.

We’ve been told this year that the BSA was discussing a potential bankruptcy, dealing with at least one law suit from the Girl Scouts of America, and the risk of an unknown number of new law suits on the horizon due to changes in the statutes of limitations for sexual assault in multiple states. None of that has been a secret from anyone involved with the program.

I’m not surprised about the rate increase; in my opinion it’s a fait accompli given all of the external issues facing the BSA this year. Sure, I’d like to know exactly how much of an increase it will be, since I expect to use Troop money to help offset the increase for our Scouts instead of do other things with it, but I haven’t for a moment expected to have no increase this year.

You hit the nail on the head. Rising cost to do business are normal. Because of the secrecy and inability to even offer a “ballpark” number to work with makes you wonder what type of people are handling to money at national when a team of accountants and lawyers can’t offer an estimate…

To drop a notice of a price hike of fee so late in year with no dollar amount is bad business.

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Further, we should remember that though it is a charitable non-profit, at the end of the day BSA is also a business.

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I agree entirely, the problem with the increase is timing. In June we were told that our insurance was going up by $12, in September (after we had started collecting fees) our Local council decided they need to start charging each scout $50 to support the program. And now this? And we don’t even have a ballpark number to work with. The fact that our recharter is due to be completed LESS THAN ONE MONTH AFTER we are supposed to find out about this increase is ridiculous. There is no way we will be able to collect a 3rd round of money from our 50 families in less than 2 weeks.


Jillian, it’s putting Troops on the spot to eat the additional costs if the parents cannot or are unwilling to pay a sizable hike if that occur… No Troop wants to lose kids and when the final dollar amount is revealed people won’t have a lot of time to digest a big price hike and will have to make a quick decision. Maybe that’s the hidden agenda. Don’t give people time to think about things and just take the pain.

My council (Northern Star) has postponed recharter until after all the information has been provided.


It is interesting that they can do so. The message my council has put forth is that National drives the whole thing and they are like us having to deal with it.

I would note that our council also sprang an additional $5 council fee on us AFTER September 1 which bothers me though that is a figure that the troop can work around. I am afraid that in the end we will have to apologize to our parents and either ask for more money or change the program to accommodate the increased fees. We have some wiggle room, but we do try to accurately predict our costs.

Don’t forget that there was effectively another late-breaking membership fee increase a year or two ago when they decided that two-deep leadership required not just YPT, but full paid membership. Plus for our girl dens, we have to make sure that we have registered females even if the dads are leading the den. Each one of those formerly unregistered adults adds another $39 to our rechartering cost. ($6 council insurance here)
If we had a full complement of dens we’d be looking at a minimum of 24 registered adults, assuming that the registered non-leaders were distributed optimally so that one would be in each den. More realistic number would be 30. Fortunately (?) we have a couple of empty dens and few enough girls that they meet together.
Our current pack registration fee is $80/kid which was projected to cover registration/insurance for the kid and roughly half a leader, the book, beltloops, and rank patch. And really isn’t enough, but we failed to raise fees last year and $15 was as much of a jump as we felt we could pull off in one year.

I can almost stomach the kind of increase people have been talking about here for my own 4th grader or when I picture paying that for involvement in a troop down the road. But he’s been doing this for years. We’re invested. And at the older levels, the things the scouts are doing are exciting and expensive. So, maybe $30 doesn’t seem like a lot.

But are we really going to tell families of kindergarten kids who are just kind of curious about scouts that the base joining cost for their handful of meetings is over a hundred dollars, then break the news that, by the way, they also have to plan and host all those meetings and try to keep things cheap because that price tag didn’t have anything built into it for supplies?

I don’t know how much it will effect retention, but it’s definitely going to be a real challenge for recruiting. And as recruiting goes down, that’s going to be a higher per-person cost for all those other things like training centers that they normally say our fees help support.


The BSA has a 60 day grace period for units to recharter before any Scouts or leaders are removed from the organizations. I believe the delay will still allow them to process the recharters by March 1.

Our deadline to complete recharter has been Nov 15 the last few years. This allowed the registrars to have the recharters staged for processing automatically the first day possible after the first of the year. I believe the delay will be long enough to allow units to deal with any fee increase while allowing the registrars to complete their work by March 1.