Boy Scouts of America and the Orange County Council Announce 2020 Membership Fees

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 the Orange County Council, BSA 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.

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, especially the mandatory California labor costs, the Boy Scouts of America and the Orange County Council has worked to keep the annual membership fee as low as possible by subsidizing core costs, including the National liability insurance BSA must carry to cover all official Scouting activities. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to subsidize at the level we have in the past, especially as the cost of insurance has increased dramatically. We kept the cost low to make Scouting available to as many young people as possible but keeping the cost artificially low for many years now magnifies the impact of changes.

To ensure we have the resources to fulfill the promise of Scouting despite increasing operating costs, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America and the Orange County Council has made the difficult but necessary decision to increase the annual membership fee and implement a program fee effective January 1, 2020.
 
BSA Membership Fee:

  • $60 for youth member in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts
  • $36 for youth members in Exploring
  • $36 for adult members (includes cost of background check and Scouting Magazine)
  • $12 OCBSA Insurance Recovery fee for all youth and adult members
  • $60 for unit charter fees
  • $12 for Boys’ Life Magazine

Fees are due with Recharter on January 1, 2020. All fees will be prorated during the year for new members.
 
In addition, the Orange County Council will collect a Program Fee:

  • $60 for youth members in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts

Fees are due with Recharter on January 1, 2020 but will be paid through a separate Scouting Gives link and can be paid over time. Program fees will be prorated during the year for new members. Recharters will not be processed until all fees are initiated on Scouting Gives.

Every dollar of the membership fee will go directly to National to cover the costs 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 Orange County Council Program Fee will be used to help offset operating costs at the local level. The new ScoutSubscription plan that was introduced in 2019 will be suspended. The annual Friends of Scouting campaign will be used to expand the Scouting mission, provide camperships and scholarships, and help improve our properties.
 
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 and for ensuring the success of the Orange County Council.
 
In the Spirit of Scouting,
 
Jeff Herrmann
Scout Executive

FAQ
 
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:  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 $11 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. Scouts are encouraged to be “thrifty” and earn their way by participating in fundraisers like Adventure Card and Popcorn sales to cover these new fees.
 
Q:  What will the money be used for?
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:  Is this increase being implemented to cover the cost of the additional background checks?
A:  No, the cost of the additional background checks is not the prompting the fee increase.
 
Q:  Why is this being announced now?
A:  We recognize 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 program year.
 
Q:  My council charges a fee to cover insurance. Does this change mean that fee is no longer necessary?
A:  No, the liability insurance that 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 property and accident insurance, as well as unique local programming costs.
 
Q:  In addition to the National membership fee, my council is implementing a program fee. Is that allowed?
A:  Councils can choose to charge a local program fee, up to but no more than the National membership fee – up to $60 for youth members in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts; up to $36 for youth members in Exploring and up to $36 for adult members. The Council’s program fee will to help subsidize costs to administer our unique local programming efforts and camp operations in Orange County Council. None of our program $60 per youth member annual fee will be shared with the National Council.
 
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.