The Boy Scouts’ motto is “be prepared,” but the same advice now goes to scouts’ families — as in, be prepared to pay more.
Starting next year, it will cost $60 to join most scouting groups in the Boy Scouts of America, a more than 80% increase from the previous $33 price. It will also cost $36 to become an adult member, instead of $33.
The organization, which serves 2.2 million kids, said it has kept fees “artificially low for many years” but rising costs — especially liability insurance premiums — forced the price hike, the Boys Scouts of America said in an announcement.
The Boy Scouts of America said in a statement that it made this “difficult, but necessary, decision in the face of rising operating costs so we can continue to provide essential services that support once-in-a-lifetime adventures.”
It may soon cost more to become a part of the Boy Scouts, but families know it’s also costing more for all sorts of after-school activities. In fact, the rising scout fee is pretty modest compared to other after-school costs.
For example, a single music lesson can cost between $40 and $60, a language lesson can run $30 to $45 and an art lesson can cost $30 to $60, according to Thumbtack, an app that matches instructors with clients.
Youth sports are a whole other ball game. Parents spend an average of $693 on their child’s sports participation, according to the Aspen Institute’s Project Play. But travel, equipment and training costs can make some sports soar far higher, its survey said. For instance, parents of a budding ice hockey player pay almost $2,600 a year on average.
Some parents are even willing to go into debt for all these extracurriculars. More than half (56%) of parents said they would be willing to owe up to $31,000 to pay for various activities and tutors as they put their child through school.
School supply costs and activity fees are also taking bigger bites at family budgets.
An annual “backpack index” found that a high schooler’s estimated school supply and extracurricular fees costs were $1,667 this year, according to Huntington Bank HBAN, +1.49% and Communities in Schools, a nonprofit organization connecting at-risk students with adults and community resources. That’s up from $1,489 in 2017, index data shows.
What’s behind the Boy Scouts’ rising costs
The Boy Scouts said it needed to raise prices to cover rising costs, including insurance premiums. What the announcement didn’t mention is that the organization is embroiled in lawsuits alleging scout leaders sexually abused boys years ago. (A spokeswoman previously defended the Boy Scouts’ current procedures to prevent abuse.)
The organization added Friday that it cares “deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize[s] to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our program to abuse innocent children. We believe victims, we support them, and we pay for counseling by a provider program of their choice and we encourage them to come forward.” The organization added that it reports all suspected abuse incidents to the authorities.
The Girl Scouts of the United States of America is also suing the Boy Scouts for trademark infringement. The pending Manhattan federal lawsuit alleges the Boy Scouts have been causing all sorts of consumer confusion ever since its 2017 announcement that it would open its ranks to girls. A Girl Scout membership starts at $25, though there may be extra fees for some programs, the organization’s website said.