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economic woes and pack dues

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I've been thinking about how the lousy economy has impacted cub scout packs this year, and I wondered what folks are seeing in other parts of the country?


Around here (MI) we just got told this week that our state has been in a recession for somewhere between 5-7 years, with no end in sight and a high probability of things getting a lot worse, due to the auto industry mess. That's not news to many of us up here but it still isn't fun to have the doom and gloom confirmed.


Many packs have said this has hurt their recruitment and retention efforts, especially this year, and there's more worry about pricing struggling families out of scouting.


On the flip side...this year our new cub scout recruitment is UP district-wide, higher than in any of the last 3 years. What does that say about where people choose to spend their money and what activities they'll pay for in tough times, I wonder? Or is it a fluke, or is it due to something other than the economy? (We did do a fairly aggressive spring/summer district scout promotion campaign too.)


So, what's the situation where you are? Any packs lowering their dues? Are there more cub scholarship requests or hits on the uniform box in your pack? Or is this actually a strange sort of boom time for cub scouting as a good and relatively cheaper alternative?



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My son goes to gymnastics once a week for 45 min, it cost $530 just for the school year (summer is extra on top of that).

Day care is $50 a day per child.

Others can fill in the cost for soccer and little league.


Point is, the worse things get, the better cubs looks.

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On a pack level (small town): Membership is up (60 compared to 54 last year), fundraiser slightly better than last year, used uniform donation & requests for these uniforms way up. Request for financial assistance (i.e. pack covering cost of events) increasing also, but we've promoted this heavily in the last year, and it's a steady increase. Our yearly pack registration fee is $30, same as at least the last four years. We waive this fee for needy families. We're promoting thriftiness in the pack this year, including no gift exchange at our Christmas pack meeting - used to be $5 limit but this year we wrapped the pinewood derby kits for each scout (in newspaper) and that will be their gift. Overall, we're doing well, but we're being careful and planning for increasing tough financial times ahead.


On a district/council level - membership decreasing, fundraising down also. In my opinion, economic woes at council level partially due to a few large unnecessary capital expenditures over last ten years.




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I'd say we all better throw up our hands in despair and call it quits. I see no hope for being able to afford a free hike in the woods and/or playing fun games in someone's yard. I believe every scouting unit ought to take a serious look about folding up. Alas, if one's life is oriented to the Gospel of the US News, then there's no hope of survival.


Chicken Little

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I've been concerned about this. Our numbers are a little bit down since several families moved out of town over the summer, but we did add several new cubs so we're almost even. Popcorn was excellent this year, I think our 2nd best year ever. That gives us some breathing room.


I'm going to propose at our next committee meeting that we refund registration fees for any families who become unemployed upon request.


Being in Michigan, since it's been so dismal for so long, it's easy for us to imagine that the entire country is in the same condition, but it is not, although it's togh all over, like Lisabob said, we've been "blown Away" for at least the last five years (yes, that is a slam at our Governor) whereas large parts of the country just recently slid into this recession portion of the business cycle.

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Our Pack is entirely funded by Popcorn and has been as long as anyone can remember, however we have sold less than half the popcorn than was sold two years ago due to poor economic conditions (welcome to Michigan :) We are looking at moving towards a Pack dues system to keep us in the black, however we are in a small town, and many of us are concerned that an additional fee may be the straw that breaks the camels back and drives more than a few folks away from scouts.


So we seem to have the choice between driving some away due to increased costs, or tying to run the pack without enough funds which requires us to cut back on things like buying the first book for the boys, or ending the Christmas tradition of Santa bringing Pinewood Derby Cars for Christmas.


I love this recession stuff!





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We had our best popcorn year ever.I noticed more people were asking about the charity we do- almost every month we do something for the community.

However, more families are having both parents working now more than ever before- even those that used to have one at home. So we feel it in the volunteer area. We keep dues low(luckily due to popcron success). We notice that evetns that cost more dont' have attendence(such as major league sporting events). however ,our charity efforts are better than ever. familes are still very sympathetic and thankful for what they have no matter how bad off.

Food bank was so grateful for the station wagon full of goods and hugely surprised when we asked- what more can we do??

the thing is with scouts- you can have fun w/o spending anything!! More than ever it's important to show we can make a difernece in youths life and show compassion and charity to those less fortunate. (even within our own packs)

our membership is up to. Of course we are working harder than ever to make a great program.


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Stosh, let's be fair here. Running a program does cost at least a little money! There are many extras that can be forgone, true, but at least in some places, economics really is an issue. Maybe the up-side to this is, as wingnut says, that scouting (and especially CUB scouting) is the cheaper program alternative. Maybe too, scouting's traditional, family-focused values, will seem more important to people in tough times and they'll gravitate toward us. I do see this as sort of a marketing opportunity for us.


On the other hand, I was sort of surprised by the number of posters in the pack dues thread who said their pack dues are $80-$100/year. That's not a lot in one way, but it is not chump change either, for a family with a couple of kids and parents who are suddenly out of work. I seem to remember a similar thread just a couple of years back where hardly anybody was above $50/year.



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"I'm going to propose at our next committee meeting that we refund registration fees for any families who become unemployed upon request."


Why would someone request to become unemployed? In that case, it's voluntary and I would not refund their fees. ;-)


Seriously, though...in my part of the country, I don't see where Scouting expenses are a deal-breaker for anyone. Those who can't afford scouting, probably couldn't afford it before and aren't in the program anyway. Granted there are some parts of the country that are worse off...


Scouts are supposed to be earning their way anyway...not asking Mom or Dad to stroke a check. That hasn't changed.

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"I was sort of surprised by the number of posters in the pack dues thread who said their pack dues are $80-$100/year."


I was one of them...I think our dues are $100, with a discount for multiple Cubs. But I also mentioned that this was a one-stop shop kind of thing: the pack doesn't do any other fundraising (except for selling hot dogs and other stuff at the Pinewood Derby -- it doesn't really raise much), and the fee covers handbooks, neckerchiefs, awards, all den meeting materials, Blue and Gold (at a banquet facility that runs ~$20 per person), and an FoS donation from the Pack. In fact, I think the only time a parent dips into their pocket is for special events (e.g., just took my youngest to the Council's "Readyman Day"), and for some special projects (e.g., last week's pack meeting involved bringing donations to put together Holiday "care packages" for local seniors).


If I had to guess, I would say most parents involved with the pack don't want to deal with fundraising, so they view this as a more expedient way to run the pack.


BTW, I have no idea if accommodation is made for struggling families. I would guess there is, but I don't really know for sure.


If I can get a gripe out of the way with: the local sports scene in my town is huge...the soccer program, for example, has over a thousand participants. Baseball, basketball, wrestling, football, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, etc. are all huge. Most kids we know play multiple sports, sometimes overlapping (my kids are now only in baseball and basketball, which don't overlap).


We first noticed a few years back when my wife was coaching soccer that the league started to move up payment dates. Fall season had started (October) and they were asking for full payment to ensure a spot for spring season (April). Anything later got a hefty late fee, if the program hadn't already been filled.


Same thing happened this year with baseball. Summer baseball finished up by August, followed by a short tournament season. No fall baseball. The dads running the program decided on fall evaluations for spring '09 baseball. They only thing they could come up with is a new policy where to be involved in fall evaluations (for April baseball) was full payment -- six months early! $135 per kid! Which really stinks because our spring season is usually half rained-out anyway. It only runs through May, with the first couple of weeks of June set aside for playoffs.





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'I was sort of surprised by the number of posters in the pack dues thread who said their pack dues are $80-$100/year.... I seem to remember a similar thread just a couple of years back where hardly anybody was above $50/year.'


I remember just a couple years ago when a gallon of milk cost $1.75. Now it's $3.29. Costs go up.


My Pack 'charges' $105-110 a year [includes $35 registration, $30-35 dues depending if they are new or returning, and $40 minimum in popcorn. May do $135 in sales or opt for a $40 'buy-out']. There is a sibling discount for multiple scouts.


Contrast that with $65 per session of soccer (3 a year), $50 for baseball and $55 for basketball, Scouts is the cheap way out. Especially when most if not all of the annual Scout fees can be covered with popcorn sales.


Needless to say, my son will be scaling back on activities in the next calendar year.

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I'd wager that general Scouting numbers might be up, given the relative low cost, but summer camp numbers are definitely going to be down. I can see a lot of new families looking at pack dues and say "OK, that's affordable, let's join," and then getting major sticker shock from the camp fees.

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Here is an Atlanta suburb, we have not seen the economy effect membership. Our pack increased dues from $45 to $55 (with a multi-scout discount) this year. Dues had been the same for many years.


Although the District popcorn sales were up, our Pack sales were down nearly $3000. The pack will ask scouts to pay a portion of some activities which it has covered in the past.


A stocking stuffing campaign for kids of needy families in the community had terrific participation. Our Pass the Hat and Scouting for Food drives also have good results. We will see how things are in a couple of months when FOS comes up.


On a personal note, we have two kids, each in several activities. (Scouts, baseball, tennis, chorus, piano) My wife and I decided to keep our son in scouts if something else had to go. We feel the program offers the best mix of year-round activities, family involvement, character building and fun.


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I think that we are one of the odd packs. We do not charge pack dues.


We did do the popcorn this year. Had a good turn out for it. We were the highest selling pack in the district. We used an incentive plan. Fill half a sheet (13 orders) we will pay registration. Fill full sheet (25 orders) we pay registration and boys' Life.


And we kept our word. Also the boys don't know it yet, but they are getting PWD cars for Christmas. They will go in the stockings that we had them put thier names on.


Although we did hit up a lot of parents this past month for some money. The boys that did not sell for registration, and for T-shirts. Yes they had to pay for them, because we were limited on funds. Most of the T shirts were $10 and the Long Sleeve T-shirts were $13. Not a bad deal. Not to mantion that the guy who is doing it for us will be able to print 1 or 100 depending on what we need. That was a great part of the deal. No need to try to get a list of 12 -20 people before placing an order. Not to mention after the initial order there will be no more set up charges.


Any way we are going to day camp this weekend, paid for by the parents, but it is only $25 for Cub and parent. Not too bad. We have a couple that do no have parents going but they are in the higher ranks.


Anyway I hope that all here have similar fortune with their pack. Merry Christmas and Happy New year.

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We charge $110 a year, with a discount for multiple Cubs, that pays for:

2 Campouts site plus food

Badges and awards

BSA Fees & Boys Life

Pinewood Derby (professionally run) & Raingutter Regatta

An End of the year BBQ

Our goal is to ask for fees once, and thats the last well ask for any $, other than FOS.


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