The latest in a series designed to help Scout families, Scouts and those new to Scouting better understand what Scouting is, how it works,
and how to get the most out of the experience. For past articles, see back issues of The Guide.

The Only Constant: Change!

We learned not too long ago that as of September 1st, all adults wishing to camp overnight with their Scouts BSA units will need to be registered. Cub Scouting leaders will similarly need to be registered although parents or legal guardians may still camp with their units when their children are participating. Each unit should encourage parents to register this summer in order to be prepared for outings in September and beyond.

Membership fee increases have just been announced effective August 1st. Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouting participants will be charged $80 annually, a $5 increase in fees over the current year. All adult volunteers will pay $60, an increase of $15 in order to cover general liability insurance and enhanced background checks. Exploring participants will see an increase of $5 to $50 annually.  Merit Badge counselors (if not registered elsewhere) will now have a $25 fee to cover general liability insurance and enhanced background checks. The $25 new youth member fee will remain the same as well as the unit charter/affiliation fees at $100.

A major change reflects the annual billing cycle. In the past, all Scouts and Scouters (adults) paid annual fees along with charter renewal. All existing Scouts and Scouters will continue to pay their annual fees at the time of their unit’s charter renewal which falls in December in the Bay-Lakes Council. However, all new Scouts and Scouters will renew their annual fees on the anniversary of their joining date. In other words, a new Scout who joins in August 2023 will renew his or her annual fees each year in August. This represents a 12-month enrollment for each participant. All units should be prepared for this transition and will need to consider a few things.

  1. Scouts recruited into Scouting in the fall of the year will no longer pay a pro-rated fee until the end of the year and then be asked to pay the annual fee again within a few months of joining. They will simply pay the $80 fee for youth or $60 for adults along with the initial $25 first time member joining fee. The unit will need to calculate whatever dues or program fees they charge and should be prepared to add those fees to the total charged upon joining.
  2. Unit treasurers/leaders should establish a record keeping process to track the anniversary month for everyone enrolled in the unit and reinforce the member’s obligation to reregister each year on the anniversary date. This will be important for the purposes of maintaining the participant’s registration, insurance coverage, and record keeping for advancement and unit rosters. Individual members will receive notification of the need to reregister from National BSA beginning 60 days in advance and will pay their fees directly through a renewal link. Unit leaders will be copied on these notices.
  3. The renewal process will not include any fees collected by the unit for the program year, so each unit should consider whether they wish to collect program fees at the time of charter renewal for each member or on the anniversary date for those members who do not renew at the time of charter renewal.

The Bay-Lakes Council will continue to require each registered adult to update Youth Protection Training annually every fall prior to charter renewal. Units should include notification of the obligation to take YPT in their planning calendars and work to ensure that all registered adults follow through.

It is also essential that all adult leaders are correctly registered in their leadership positions and that complete and current contact information is listed in their records. Notification from National BSA regarding individual members’ registration anniversary dates and any other information will be sent to those leaders of record.

The restructuring of the National BSA continues now that the bankruptcy situation has been resolved and other changes are under consideration. For example, a new program plan for Cub Scouting will likely be released next spring which should strengthen the program and better align age-appropriate activities with the dens. Another change that is now in effect, Cub Scout dens can officially operate co-ed dens through the 4th grade. Many of our Packs have been operating in this manner to better serve families and members, but this change means that dens no longer need to have one den leader for the girls and another for the boys of the same rank. Webelos Arrow of Light dens will continue to operate as boy or girl dens to better prepare Scouts for the transition to Scouts BSA units through crossing over in the 5th grade.

These changes and others are intended to streamline the operation of Scouting on the National level, increase youth protection and general liability insurance coverage, and eventually to simplify charter renewal for units. They present some new challenges, but also offer benefits to those joining Scouting, to those unit leaders currently tasked with collecting and paying member fees, and will help to spread out payments for renewal fees, camp fee deposits and unit program fees throughout the year. Bay-Lakes Council will continue to provide financial assistance to families with limited resources for both registration fees and camping fees to make Scouting accessible to all who are interested.

I hope that this information is useful for our registered adult leaders and all families in Scouting. It is very likely that a family with youth currently in the program and youth that may join this fall or in coming years will have different renewal dates for their children. It is important that everyone understands this shift in operational procedure so they can talk with neighbors and other families with better information.

Thank you once again for entrusting your youth to Scouting and sharing your time, talent and treasure.  As the summer program unfolds and in all that we do, let us not forget that Scouting is really for our youth, for their life-shaping, life-changing Scouting experience. Let’s Be Prepared!

Paul Shrode