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I am sure this topic has been discussed before, but I can't find anything relevant. We are a year away from having to do troop shopping, but I have been looking around some of the troops in the area. We are very blessed around there with at least a dozen super active and exciting troops. In browsing their websites, I am in AWE at the number of outings these boys do. But also a little intimidated. It averages to about one a month!


So my question is this, how do you go about paying for it??? I know boys sell popcorn, but even if they get to "keep" say 10% of it in their account, that strikes me as an ENORMOUS amount of popcorn to have to sell!! I mean, summer camp alone costs $300!!!


What am I missing?

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$300 summer canp is always a shocker, but you get used to it.


I just write checks, but we can afford it. My 16 year old has jobs around the house, is my always on-call babysitter for his younger brother and sister, does well in school, is a generally amiable person, and takes a lot of responsibility within his troop. I figure we spend $600+ a year on Scouts for him alone, which is a lot less than travel teams, music lessons, karate, etc.


Go ahead and ask how parents in the troop fund thier sons' Scouting activities when you visit troops. Some write checks, some fundraise, some get grants from other orgs. Our troop fundraises our epaulets off, and generally covers what $60/year dues would bring in. I'd rather a parent ask how we fund the troop and come in with thier eyes open.

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An outing a month is the "gold standard" for a Scout Troop, and it is a pretty good indicator of the kind of Troop your Scout would like.

Typically, Troops will hold at least one other major fundraiser over and above the popcorn sales, and some don't even do the popcorn at all because they have found something more profitable for them. Generally money an individual Scout/family earns from the major fundraisers can go into a Scout's summer camp account. Half or greater of my sons summer camp fees have always been offset by our earned portion from a fundraising program.

Depending on the type of outing, most are affordable and simply cover the cost of food and transportation and possibly a camping fee if using something like a state park, for example. Our Troop's average cost per boy per campout is usually in the $10-$20 range. If the event is for instance, a canoe trip, the cost will be a bit more for canoe rental.

Most well-established Troops work hard to keep the cost of the program at an affordable level. Most Scout's are encouraged to do their part to earn their own money to participate. Also, if there is some financial hardship for a family, there are usually resources available to help.

As Nike suggests, ask about the costs, fund-raising, etc, early on in your search. Scoutmasters, and Committee Members realize that this is an importtant consideration and will be happy to answer your questions.

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10 short term campouts/year is the Gold Standard for troops. As others have mentioned ususally in the $10-$20 to cover food and gas. Sometimes a little more, depending upon what is being done.


Growing up my unit did 1 fundraiser in 2 stages every year. We worked a local fair in which the Scouts cleaned up, and the adults sold hot dogs and lemonade. Scouts earned money for their accounts. Parents earned it for the troop.



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Ok, so what you are saying is that most (not all) outings will cost about say $25? Maybe a more expensive canoe or rafting trip would be $50?


I know it all depends on the troop, but I am looking here at a list of yearly events this one troop has: Climbing in December (it doesn't say where, maybe it is close and I can see it being cheaper), weekend long ski trip in jan (we live in the Atlanta, GA area--it's a TREK to the nearest possible ski place, this trip has got to be in the $100s), Backpacking in Feb (this is one probably nearby and one of the cheaper ones), 4 day trip on Spring Break to Cumberland Island Backpacking (Cumberland Island is a good 4 hours away and for a 4 day trip...this one is also probably in the $100s), 2 day Survival Campout in May (probably a cheaper one). I won't even go into the summer ones (Summer Camp, Whitewater Rafting, Aquatics Campout, Shooting Campout, etc)


This is only one troop. Another one I looked at has even more, including a trip to Disney (3 days). I sure hope they include some good fundraising..but I gotta say I am a bit discouraged. I do NOT want my kid to spend most of his spare time peddling (insert usually good and useful, but woefully overpriced product here) to afford trips!


I think it's because we live in an affluent area, but needless to say, we are not at that level. We sacrifice to live where we live in order to have access to good schools. Sigh.

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Well you'd expect 1 outing a month, with 1 of those week long summer camp to cost $300 or more (ours is $500 in San Diego this summer, but last summer was $200 so it balances out)


the backpacking trip will cost gas (our parents usually donate it), each boy brings their own backpacking food, so it's usually considered a "free" trip.


ski trips, we do in January, the boys split the cost of hotel room, 4 in a room and the hotel gives them a really good price since they rent usually 12-15 rooms.


if the boy wants to ski or snowboard, the parent usually pays that cost directly to the ski resort, but again, they get a group rate so it's cheaper than if you or I went on our own. if the boy can't afford to ski, they take those boys to a snow play area for sledding. so for a boy going sledding the trip was $20. They stay at a hotel with a free breakfast, the boys all brought a packed lunch for Saturday to eat (or money to eat in the lodge), and they did have to bring $10+ for dinner out at a great burger joint(not McD)


when we go climbing, the cost will be the cost of food and a little toward gas. again the adults usually donate their gas mileage. the troop covers the cost of renting the climbing stuff and camp to sleep at, but of course that could be divided up to all the boys. but this would still probably be a very cheap outing.

they have one local lock in at the scout lodge which is really cheap, it's in August and they go to the local water park.


I pay on average $25 a month for an outing.


Each troop will do "scout accounts" and split fundraiser funds differently. In our troop, they have one main fundraiser that the troop gets all the profit from --it's a flag program where area families pay a certain amount of $ a year to have flags posted on major holidays. this brings in a lot of money to the troop. the troop gives 5 boys $20 each to their scout account if they go out and post flags and pick them up on a holiday, 8 times a year.


Then popcorn or our local scoutorama fundraiser, the troop gives the boys the whole 35% profit into their scout account.

some troops might give you 0% but cover part or all of your summer camp or other fees --

some troops migth split the profit with you.


you'll have to ask the troop.


also ask what kind of campership programs they have access to for the boys who can't afford camp. our troop will cover up to 75% of camp for boys who really need help and a separate committee evaluates each scout's need privately.




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When paying for the weekend trip, always remember the $20 - $25 fee is partly for food, and your son would have been home eating his way through your refrigerator, if he didn't go. The 4 day trip, may also be more due to more food for the outing.. But unless you know that Cumberland island charges high prices, again, the food may be all you will be paying for..


You still may have some upstart cost with backpacking gear and other camping gear, although if your area has no snow you may be spared the below zero sleeping bag cost.. But you can either go ebay, sometimes troops also have 2nd hand..


While visiting troops, these are fine questions to ask.. Some troops have amazing fundraisers and the costs are totally taken care of through the fundraising.. Others have great contacts and can pull off wonderful trips on a shoestring budget.. Still others may depend on the wealth of the parents.. So if it is a concern, it should be something you ask about.



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Actually what you guys are saying seems MUCH more reasonable. I'm okay with $25 even $50-$100 per month for one trip. I guess in my mind I was thinking it would be more like $200 to $500 for a trip EACH MONTH and that seemed a little daunting. Seems is more like several cheaper trips and maybe 2 or 3 per year more on the pricey side.


I feel better about it now, thank you!

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There should definitely NOT be $100 trips every month. if that cost is passed on to the parents every month, then the troop committee needs to do some serious fundraising--past the point of your son peddling cack to your neighbors.


Now if you don't have a nice backpacking backpack, and your son wants to go, that could be a $100-200 trip unless the troop has extras he can borrow.


and if you decide to buy ski bib, goggles, new ski type jacket and gloves for you son plus a new sled, that could be a $100-200 trip just to go play in the snow.


and if you need to buy the tent, nice sleeping bag for cool weather, tent lantern, sleeping pad, and such for a campout, then that may be a $100-200 trip but hopefully the tent comes from the troop and you have collected a sleeping pad and sleeping bag as a webelo so you don't need to do so.


and if your son grows like a week and you have to buy him a new pair of scout pants, uniform shirt, socks and belt before the next court of honor, that might be a $100+ event as well.




and then your son gets older and decides one summer he wants to go to national jamboree at a cost of $3000, but he can get a campership to cover 75% of that too.....


I won't say scouting is always cheap because it's certainly not free.


cost of outings, type of troop equipment provided, type of individual boy equipment expected are discussions to cover in your visits to a troop.


Also be sure to ask what it costs to join. many troops tack on some hefty troop dues. ours is $65 a year, plus $1 a week paid weekly. Another troop in the area is $120 a year with no other dues.


and ask what fundraisers they have, and how/if scout accounts are set up. some troops you can spend scout account money (% of fundraisers) on summer camp only, some it can be anything bought at the scout shop, summer and monthly camps. some it can be any scouting related expense including camping equipment and hiking boots.


oh yeah remind me to go buy new hiking boots for oldest, but I can also check the troop uniform closet for a pair of scouting pants since his don't fit anymore.


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Routinely, our Scouts pay $12-$15 for a run-of-the-mill campout, all for food. Our rule on gas is that Scouts should offer to help pay the person he rode to the campout with for their gas, almost all decline. Food is always by patrol, so the boys are in control of the food costs.


We went to skiing last month and the cost was $40 for lift tickets and rentals. From Atlanta, I assume you go to NC or WVA for skiing. There are several Scout camps within an hour of the slopes. If you will PM me, I'll give you some camp contacts, if you want to pass that info along to the troop.


The last time we went shooting, the troop charged each Scout $10 to cover the cost of ammo. We went to our summer camp and used their guns and range for free. Food for the weekend was per patrol.


A two-night canoe trip was $5 on top of the food cost to cover the rental of the canoes, which we rent from the council camp.


Our Philmont crew is going on a four-day shake-down trip to the AT in May. I think the cost is $45 for food, but the extra cost is mainly due o the length of the trip and to buy freeze-dried food which is pricey. Normally, we would make due with light-weight grocery store fare, but they want to try a few freeze-dried meals just for practice.


Summer camp here is $220. Our annual troop dues are $90 and we do almost no fundraising. Popcorn and participation in another council fundraiser in the spring is 100% optional with all the troop's net going to the boys.


Point is, things are probably less expensive that I think you are imagining. But neither is it free, nor should it be. We all value the things we pay for. I guess our guys are maybe $600-$700 out of pocket every year, and that with pretty high participation. And as Moose points out, half of that is for food, which you would be paying for if he were home. Scouts with a need can apply for assistance with both summer camp and troop dues.


Scouting is by far the cheapest thing we do with our boys. Music lessons are $25 a week with a $1400 instrument. Rec league sports are fairly inexpensive at $150 or so, but thats for a three-month season. Even the schools here now charge to be on school teams. Times four seasons puts you in the same range as Scouts, but that's rec league. We have friends who pay $3000 just join a hot-shot travel team, then expect to pay another $1500-$2000 for gear and travel expenses. And summer camp? Even YMCA camp is $850 a month.


But look, Lord knows I know things are tough. As my grandfather used to say, if battleships were 10 cents a dozen, I couldn't afford a rowboat. If summer camp at $300 is an incredible value, but you don't have $300......


Talk to the leaders in the troops you visit. Let them know up front the total cost to participate is a concern for you. Ask what they do to keep the costs down. If a troop seems like a real silver spoon crowd, maybe that's not the right unit for your family. Or ask them what assistance is available. Or what they do to help boys pay their own way. I guarantee you every troop and council in the country is talking about the increase number of families applying for camp scholarships and assistance and trying to figure out what they can do to keep Scouting affordable.

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Definitely keep in mind these aren't (or shouldn't be) "trips" along the lines of expensive school or band trips, where the kids stay in hotels and eat out at decent restaurants. You and your son will mostly be paying for the privilege of him sleeping on the ground under a thin tent or tarp, over- or under-cooking food on a small stove or campfire, getting wet, dirty and tired slogging through the woods - and loving it! :)


About $25 would be more than reasonable for most weekend campouts. The farther you go, the more expensive it gets, of course. Summer camp is expensive, to be sure, but consider it's a six-long deal and includes room & board - about $50 a day for your camp.


Cost is a concern among many Scouting parents - you're not alone. But consider that Scouting is one of the more affordable activities out there - compare it to band, JROTC, baseball, football ... OK, chess club would be cheaper, but they don't have cool uniforms. ;) Have a one-on-one chat with the Scoutmaster if the program calendar concerns you and ask the questions that have been suggested here.


And remember - your son doesn't have to got on all the campouts! If the ski trip has too big a pricetag and your son can't raise even part of the money, he doesn't go. No biggie - there'll be plenty of other treks.


Another one I looked at has even more, including a trip to Disney (3 days). I sure hope they include some good fundraising..but I gotta say I am a bit discouraged. I do NOT want my kid to spend most of his spare time peddling (insert usually good and useful, but woefully overpriced product here) to afford trips!


Not to take this off-topic - but if I were in your shoes, I would RUN, not walk, away from that troop. Unless you're right next door and the Scoutmaster works there and can get a 90 percent discount, there is, IMHO, no reason on earth for a Boy Scout troop to go to any of the Disney attractions.


Since there are a lot of active troops in your area, I'd consider getting the financial info from the Scoutmasters first and drawing up a list based on what your family can afford - then let your son make the real decision based on friendships and fun.

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I figure that minimum costs for a weekend campout for a scout are:

4 cents per mile ($3.25/gal / 20mpg / 4 scouts)

$3.00 per meal

$5.00 BSA camp fee


Simple camping at a BSA camp 50 miles away then costs $21.00 - that's pretty much the bare minimum possible for us. If you figure he would have eaten $6 in food anyway, then you could say the extra cost is $15.


All scouts need for a great weekend is a remote place, food, and a way to get there. All the other stuff (ski lifts, rafts, Disneyworld, ...) boosts the cost up fast and isn't needed for a great scouting program. But, it does make for exciting trips!


Backpacking, climbing, swimming, canoeing, pioneering, fishing, flyfishing, geocaching, shooting, orienteering, photography, woodcarving, and many other merit badge themes can all be tied into inexpensive campouts that the scouts plan and run. These can be great fun and big adventures for cheap.


Scouts receive 90% of the profit from fundraising into their scout accout while the troop keeps 10% in our troop. I'd expect any scout that wants to camp should be able to raise at least $150 and pay his full way to six $25 campouts each year. For council popcorn, $100 in sales equals about $40 in profit. That's $375 in popcorn sales, which (unfortunately) isn't much.


Scout On



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All of what you guys posted seems way more reasonable than what I was envisioning. Of course we are not rich, but yes I can afford say $25 to $50 a month, not counting the initial investing in equipment.


Everything you guys say makes sense, and of course I was not expecting Scouting to be free. The summer camp figure threw me off, but of course $300 for a week in sleep away camp is very reasonable. Anything non-scouting for sleep away camp is around $1000 a week, so $300 is a bargain. Like I said I was intimidated by the thought of having to fork out several hundred dollars each month and it doesn't seem to be the case.


Thanks for putting this inexperienced mom at ease!

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Summer camp fees vary widely...we go to an "out of council" camp that costs a little more than average for this area, at about $365/week. I've heard of other areas of the country where camp fees are sub-$200.


Our troop, in the past, has done two "high ticket" trips a year: skiing in March, which runs about $100 for the weekend, and white water rafting in summer, which runs slightly more. Other months, we're very budget-minded, and typically collect a modest fee for food and whatever other expenses we have. Sometimes we just pull it from the troop treasury.

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Two words of advice I have are teh following:


1)Do not skimp on some of the equipment. Backpack and sleeping bap are vital pieces that you do not want to sklimp on. You may $90+ dollars on a good sleeping bag, but if the scout takes care of it, it will last 10+ years. Ditto on a backpack. DO NOT GET THE BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL FROM WALMART ;) Make sure the backpack is sized for him and HAS A HIPBELT! I made the mistake of buying a KMart special and I had the most miserable time on my first backpacking trip. No hipbelt, and the belt I made per Green Bar Bill's instructions in the old field book, while helped part of the first day, caused the cheap frame to break. No hipbelt AND broken aluminum frame jutting into back to not make a fun trip.


I still have my second backpack after 22 years, it's still servicable, and it is on loan to oldest son until he buys a new one for himslef. I also have a 22yo sleeping bag (replacing the one I used on that first trip)that's still servicable, but I've grown out of (do not buy youth size sleeping bags, you'll outgrow it), and it's replacement. Only problem with the repalcement is the zipper broke, and I need to use safety pins to secure.


If your troop doesn't provide tents, mine did, then a tent is another investment you don't skimp on.


2) Make sure you scout has a financial investment in it. Yep if he pays for it, in whole or partially, he will take better care of it.

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