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The finical cost of Scouting

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In Black and white does and one now the cost of having a kid in Scouting for a year??? What costs to count and what you do not.




Boys Life??


Scout Uniform?


Summer Camp?


District Events?


Council Events?


Camping equipment for the weekend? Scout camp?


A fiend has asked me this question & I want to give him a response.










thanks for your help.

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Gotta keep an eye on those fiends, you know. (sorry, couldn't resist)


Welcome to the forums, and it is a good question.


Unfortunately it is also a difficult one to answer, because each unit sets its own fees. I've seen them as low as $15/yr (covers the cost of registration with the BSA and nothing else), and as high as $100/yr in dues, plus extra costs for some of the other things you mention. Obviously a huge range.


How old is the boy in question? Cost of cubs vs. boy scouts is another difference. In general, cub scouts tends to be cheaper.


If cost is the determining factor for your friend, please let them know that most units will bend over backward to help a boy. Most have "experienced" uniform closets, scholarships, camperships, and fundraisers where a boy can help defray the family costs. I've never seen a boy turned away for economic reasons. (On the other hand, I do know some who chose not to join because they didn't know help was available, or because they didn't want to ask for it.)





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There is no black and white hard number. It's going to depend on how active the unit is, how active the scout is, and the costs of events and camps are variable from council to council. Whether a unit does fundraising or not, and how it is used.


Registration and Boys Life run about $27 plus council insurance. I don't know the current cost of a uniform but if you buy it big enough it'll last a few years for a growing boy.


Camping gear can be acquired over time.


You could ask 100 scouters and get 100 different "black and white" answers.

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As noted above, it depends somewhat on whether it is Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts. My current experience is in Cub Scouts, since it's been a long time since I was a Boy Scout.



$15 (or possibly a couple dollars more in some councils)


Some units will have "dues". Most expect that the scouts will engage in some fundraising activities. In some cases, this means becoming a full-time employee in the popcorn industry. Many units will be a lot more laid back. In our Pack, each family is expected to sell about a half dozen Christmas wreaths, which is pretty easy.


Boys Life??

$12. Optional, but a good bargain, IMHO.


Scout Uniform?

I assume a Boy Scout youth uniform will set you back about the same as my complete adult leader uniform, which came to about $100 by the time I had all the various patches and was talked into buying the official BSA socks. Used uniforms can be scrounged up without much difficulty, so this could get down to almost free.


IIRC, the Cub Scout shirt, pants, and other accessories came to a bit over $50. IMHO (and others will disagree), a regular pair of dark blue pants will work just fine for Cub Scouts, although most of the Cubs in my pack seem to have the "official" pants. Used shirts seem to go for about $10-$15 on eBay, although you'll also need to spend an additional $5-10 for the correct council patch and numbers.


Summer Camp?

Others will have to answer for Boy Scouts. In our council, the Cub Scout 3-day, 2-night summer camp is $90 for Cubs, and $90 for adults, which means that it's probably $180 per family, which is too high, IMHO.


District Events?

Council Events?


This tends to vary. In our Pack, expect to pay about $100 per year for various events that come up. However, in those Packs where the Cub Scouts are employed as junior popcorn salesmen, the funds raised from that will typically cover these expenses, so they'll be zero. In case you haven't noticed, my preference is just to get the checkbook out occasionally.


Camping equipment for the weekend? Scout camp?


Others can probably give you a better answer. But in general, whatever they say, divide it in half. :) I've noticed that a lot of people tend to buy special "camping" versions of various items, but in most cases, the version of that item found at home will work just fine. So you probably don't need a special camping cup, if you already have cups at home, etc. This applies especially to clothing. When I'm dressed for the outdoors, admittedly, I sometimes look foolish, since I'm sometimes wearing old dress clothes (such as wool pants from an old suit, synthetic shirt, etc.) But they seem to work as well as the L.L. Bean version that costs ten times as much. But again, the people wearing the L.L. Bean stuff don't look quite as silly as me, so maybe it's worth paying extra. :)


When I was in Scouts, it was almost the accepted practice for the newest Scout to show up at his first camp with all of his stuff in a suitcase. As long as the campout is near the car, that works just fine. So the necessary equipment can generally be purchased slowly, rather than all at once.

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Scout Summer Camp:


I'd estimate between $200-$300 per camper, scout or adult.


There is likely some under $200. There is some variation in program and accommodations (for example dining hall vs. patrol campsite cooking).


For the last few years our 10-day council camp has been $275. Many councils operate 7-day sessions and certainly cost less. Your local council will likely have those fees posted on their website.

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I would suggest if you are lucky to have a few packs/troops in your area that your friend go to each unit and check out the units (not just financil, but program also)..


Now if concerned with cost of travel you might not consider much travel to go to the best troop in the area, which may limit your friend somewhat.


But, for parents while they are concerned with finances, for Boy Scout especially you want a program that has the interest of the boy, and are active and boy run.. For example our first pick of troop had a very active program and also was run by the boys, but was majorly hiking.. My son is more aquatics, so the match was not good..


If financial is a big concern, the parents may want to scope a few troops themselves, but make sure they do not pick THE troop.. But maybe weed out any that really they could not financially afford.. Then bring the boy to the potential troops and let him choose the troop.


Truely I know troops that have one or two great fundraisers and all program and registration is paid.. Others who are cheap because they don't have much of a program.. Others that have a great program, but the scout families have to cough up the money for most things.. And most fall somewhere between any of these extremes..


As for milage, sometimes the troop may pay for milage of those who are carpooling the boys to an event. Ours pays the gas of the person who tows the scout trailer (basically because our two driver are young adults with little funds)..


But if you are sign up and become a volunteer with the unit (you should truely help, not just be registered in name only).. Then you can write your milage off on your taxes (as well a uniform and other supplies for the adult volunteer, not what the scout needs for his youth program).. Reimbusement through tax write-off is not a full reimbursement but every bit helps.. My milage is low, compared to most on this board, but I was shocked to find out that last year came up to almost 1,500 miles.. I travel for District volunteering.. My husbands seprately is way more as he will put in not only traveling for District, But for the unit (our troop is 1/2 hour from our home) and he also travels for his meritbadge counciling (he is a swimming MB instructor and travels to the pool at least once a month)..

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As other have said, it will vary. In the unit I work with for a scout that goes to everything it would work out about like this:


Registration, dues, Boys Life, FOS, etc. $75

Uniform: $0-$100 (a new shirt is generally not needed every year)

Summer camp: $150 - $800+ (We do 3 each summer, doing them all would add up. Next year we are going to Alaska, so make that $1000 for next summer)

District events: $24

Council events: $0

Monthly Campouts (10x): $200-$300 include transportation, meals, entrance fees, etc.

Camping equipment: 0 - many hundreds. Overall my son's 7 years it totaled about $300. Say about $50/year.


So all told it runs about $750/year. Some manage at about $500 and others may go over $1500. We have multiple fundraisers and enough in the bank to help anyone that is still short and needs some help.


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"Reimbusement through tax write-off is not a full reimbursement"


IANACPA but my dad is.


You can only get additional tax savings on the expenses as a scouter if you are exceeding the standard deduction and as such are able to itemize.

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For the most active boys in the troop, Scouting can add up. For the least active, it can be pretty cheap.


Annual dues - $50, includes Boy's Life.

Uniform - maybe $50 - depends on whether you need the pants and whether you spread out the cost over multiple years.

Summer camp - $200


The monthly trips are a big cost and are highly variable. Our cheapest trips would have just food and gas - maybe $30 for the weekend. District and council events are in the same range.


If we go skiing, or whitewater rafting, or climbing where we have to hire a guide, the cost can easily climb to $100 for the weekend. Our average Scout does maybe six trips a year, at an average cost of $50 - but a bunch of that money is for food that you would otherwise have to provide to your son anyway. The most active Scout, who goes on 12 outings, could easily spend $600.


The other potential big expense is camping gear. This is also extremely variable. When we did our winter backpacking trip with the older Scouts, we just about kept REI in business all on our own for the week prior to the trip (boots, gaiters, snow pants, rain coats, backpack, stove, water filter, Mountain House, socks, ...) . The kids who do the simpler trips really need very little, but if you go ahead and get all good equipment for every trip, you could add it up pretty quickly.


So the cheapest might be someone who doesn't do summer camp, doesn't buy any special equipment, and who goes on a few of the cheaper trips. $300. The most expensive would be someone who's really into it, goes on almost all of the trips and buys a bunch of equipment - in addition to backpacking gear, they might also have bike gear. (I don't think we really have anyone who has bought their own climbing gear or boating gear or skiing gear just for Scouts.) Maybe up to $1500. And that doesn't count the year that we go to Philmont.

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For our Cub Scout pack and troop (I have boys in both), I think it is pretty cheap but costs still add up.


Cub Scouts: $370/boy/year

Dues - $90

Uniform - $100

Summer Camp + physical - $145

Misc - $80

(camping, special pack meetings, etc)


Boy Scouts: $520/boy/year plus extra time for fundraising

Dues - $15

Uniform - $150

(Class A and Class B required)

Camping/Activity fees - $100

High Adventure fee - $120

Summer Camp + physical - $160


Scout Parents/Leaders: est. $550/year

(we figured this out once for budget purposes)




Vehicle depreciation for trips

Meeting supplies



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Camping/hiking equipment is far and away been the largest cost.


Even renting the equipment is expensive.


Our troop really doesn't have any equipment of it's own....other than a trailer.


Uniforms are the next most expensive item...depending on how fast they grow out of them.


Our Scout no longer does summer camp...he's not hear during the troop camp dates, nor the provisional dates and does not wish to camp with those he does not know out of state.





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Annual dues $75 per year, Boys Life extra 12.50?

Summer camp $275-$300 We go to different camp each year, price varies

Average $35 per campout x10 a year

Uniform $100 but last 3-4 years depending on how fast they grow

High Adventure trip for 14+ run about $1500 a year. We rotate between Philmont, Florida Seabase, and Northern Tier.


Gear? We have troop tents, patrol boxes, trailer, Dutch ovens, stoves, fuel, etc. Lads provide pack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, canteen, cup and spoon, raingear, clothing, and shoes.


The troop has fund raisers. Some boys raise 0 while some raise hundreds. We have a uniform closet and a summer camp scholarship program. We are upfront about the costs during parent visits. Most of the parents pay for everything with little or no griping.


Drivers recieve fuel allowance for camping and summer camp trips from troop. Troop pays food costs for adult "patrol". Adults use the same price structure for food as lads, $4 per person per meal. Troop pays full amount for all adult training including Woodbadge.


Troop runs its own YLT twice a year with about 12-15 lads in attendance. All costs for all participants are covered by the troop.


45-55 registered scouts. 8-12 ASMs. Fully staffed committee.

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Our crew is pay-as-you go.


Some venturers are only shelling out $17 a year to stay on our E-mail list. (Covers rechartering expenses.)


Others are spending thousands for those high adventures.

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I guess the cost depends on your priorities. I for one do not consider Boys Life a necessary or worthwhile expense, especially since you can read it online for free. As far as a uniform and camping equipment is concerned, start him off with a used ones from ebay, uniform bank, etc. and if he sticks to it you can replace them with new ones over time.


As far as the cost of trips are concerned, if your troop is taking off to Philmont or the Sea Base every year that does get expensive. I guess the answer is let him participate in as many activities as possible without breaking the bank. I think in these tough economic times troops need to rethink their budgets and expenditures and plan their events accordingly.

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