For more than 100 years, Scouting has helped build future leaders by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun and adventure in the outdoors. At Boy Scouts of America, we are dedicated to developing leaders of character by preparing young men and women for life by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. The timeless ideals of the Scout Law, such as being trustworthy, helpful, kind and brave, make up the foundation young people need to address and overcome challenges in their lives and the issues facing their generation.
Here in Westchester-Putnam Council, Scouting serves more than 7,500 youth in 2 counties. Now as we continue the Scouting mission, it is important that we keep pace with an ever-changing world. While costs to the organization have increased every year, the Boy Scouts of America has worked to keep the annual membership fee as low as possible by subsidizing core costs, including liability insurance we must carry to cover all official Scouting activities. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible for the National Council to subsidize at the level they have in the past, especially as the cost of insurance has increased dramatically.
Last week, the National Council announced new National Membership Fees, effective January 1, 2020:
- $60 for youth members in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts
- $36 for youth members in Exploring
- $36 for adult members
- $60 for the Annual Organization Charter Fee
The Board of the Westchester-Putnam Council held a Special Meeting on Saturday, October 26. It was decided that as a Council we made a commitment to our Units in 2018 to be as transparent as possible and to inform you of all fees in April. The Board has decided to forgo the WPC Program & Insurance Fee increase for 2020. We will hold the line at $27 per youth member. That means that in your planning you were prepared for a total cost of $87 ($33 National and $54 Council) per youth member. We are going to keep that same $87 number now divided up as $60 National and $27 Council. The Adult fee will increase from a current Total of $37 ($33 National and $4 Council) to $40 ($36 National and $4 Council). Exploring will stay as the same fee $40 (current breakdown – $33 National and $7 Council to $36 National and $4 Council). The Organizational Charter Fee will increase from $40 to $60 as required by the National Council.
New Total Fees (National & Council) for 2020:
- $87 for Youth Members (NO overall total increase)
- $40 for Adult Members ($3 increase)
- $40 for Exploring Members (NO overall total increase)
- $60 for Organization Charter Fee ($20 increase)
The Westchester-Putnam Council Board wants every youth in our communities to be able to participate in Scouting. This was a very hard decision. It will cause some adjustments in some services that the Council provides, but we felt that keeping our Scouts in the program was the number one priority for our Council.
The National Council has agreed that they will inform the membership of any fee increases around May each year. As the Westchester-Council Board, we will commit to announcing all Total Fees right after the National Council information is provided. We want to make sure that you only get this information once a year.
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 once-in-a-lifetime adventures to merit badges that spark interests and future careers; from campouts under the stars 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.
Thank you for your continued role in empowering a generation of future leaders of character through Scouting programs.
Paxton Louis Fred Compton Richard Stockton
Council President Council Commissioner Scout Executive
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.
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 $7.25 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.
Q: What will the money be used for?
A: Every dollar of the National 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: 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 National Council recognizes the timing of this fee increase creates challenges as units have already begun collecting fees for their 2020 registration renewal process, and we would not make this difficult decision if it were not absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, the cost of liability insurance we must carry to cover all Scouting activities has increased dramatically over the past several months, and the organization is no longer able to offset the cost of insurance. We are committed to supporting you through this process and are making necessary adjustments to the online rechartering system to ensure units can carry out the recharter process.
Q: Does this increase cover financial challenges the organization is facing?
A: The increase was prompted because the cost of liability insurance we must carry to cover all Scouting activities has increased dramatically over the past several months, and the organization is no longer able to offset the cost of insurance. The national membership fee also enables us program development and training resources, continuously updated youth protection and youth safety training, improved IT/digital experiences and services to our councils nationwide.
Q: When will this increase take effect?
A: The new membership fees will take effect starting January 1, 2020 for the 2020-21 program year.
Q: What measures has the national organization taken to offset the financial challenges?
A: In addition to ongoing efforts to streamline and simplify the organization, the national organization 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 the national membership fee continue to increase?
A: Although no decision about future increases have been made, the cost of operating our organization and services increases every year. Should it be necessary to increase fees in the future, 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.