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What Wingnut said.
Some of the "fee" will be allotted to a) Registration fee (local council and national council, recently changed...maybe $15.) b) Boys' Life subscription (it's changed. ?$12.?) c) Troop dues. The Troop dues pays for the program. Possible expenses: space rental, camp fees, equipment purchase, camperships, awards purchases, books purchases, ). Troop can say everyone pays a share, or Troop can have fundraiser events to halp with expenses (see popcorn), or a combination. Still a bargain.
The cost to JOIN is prorated based on when you enroll. The full fee covers 12 months ($10), so if the unit recharters in DEC and you enroll before the end of SEP that's 4 months ($3.40). If you OPT to subscribe to Boy's Life (highly recommended) that's a seperate subscription fee - 12 months = $10; 4 months = $4.
As mentioned above, there may be Troop dues to pay as well.
The info above is found on the Youth Application form Page 3) which you can download here:
While I agree Scouting is worth every penny, I think you deserve a better answer as to what Scouting really costs. Most of the costs I'm mentionion don't need to be paid on day one, but they will likely be paid out of your and his pocket in the next year. While every Troop handles costs differently, here is some of what you should expect in your first year:
The $15 annual registration is a small part of the cost of participating in Scouting.
Unless you find a Troop with a uniform bank, you will likely need to spend upwards of $75 on a full uniform and patches. The upside is that is not an annual investment and the uniform should last a few years.
Your son will need some of his own camping gear: backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad will likely be your biggest initial expenses. Most Troops do not have deep supply of these items. With other incidentals, this could easily be in excess of $200 by the end of your first year, but again, it is an up-front investment and much of this will last his whole Scouting career. You might get some of these items on loan for a couple of campouts, but in the long run you will need this equimpment. On the other hand, most Troop do have an inventory of tents and all the cooking equipmenty they need, so you don't need to buy everything needed for a week end in the woods.
A week of summer camp (which is a core expierence for Scouts) is typically $350. Some Councils offer scholorships to low income families which woudl reduce the cost by half.
Costs for monthly campouts are handled differentlty for each Troop. It would not by unussual to pay for, at a minimum, the cost of food. Ask the Troops you are speaking to what their policy is.
Each troop has its own annual dues policy. This could be anywhere from zero to $100 a year. Again, ask the leaders of the troop you visit what their policy is.
You son will likely want to attend an annual skills eveny called "merit badge midway" These are typically $30 or $35.
To offset these costs, most Troops have annual fundraising events where the boys have a chance to put asside dollars to cover some or all of the above. Keep in mind that to cover all of the costs of Scouting your son will need to put in a significant effort for fundraising.
My best advise would be to ask the Troop or Troops you are considering what the costs are. Ask who pays for what and what opportunities you have to reduce costs.
I hope this will help you understand what you're paying in the end.