With more sex-abuse lawsuits on the way, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will raise its youth and adult membership fees in order to cover the cost of liability insurance. And although the BSA says the increase is necessary, some adult volunteers aren’t happy with both the size of the increase and the timing of the announcement.
“Unfortunately, the cost of liability insurance we must carry to cover all Scouting activities has increased dramatically over the past several months,” BSA said in the announcement. “The organization is no longer able to offset the cost of insurance.”
Come January 1, annual youth membership fees will increase by over 80%, from $33 to $60. Adult membership fees will go up from $33 to $36. The Associated Press says the jump in cost will generate over $60 million dollars in additional funds for 2020.
“For years, the BSA has been entangled in costly litigation with plaintiffs who said they were abused by scout leaders in their youth,” The Associated Press has said. “Hundreds of lawsuits may lie ahead with the recent enactment of laws in New York, New Jersey, Arizona and California making it easier for victims of long-ago abuse to seek damages.”
But increasing membership fees is not the only thing the BSA is doing to cover costs. It says it’s looking at all options, including filing for bankruptcy. And it has already consolidated departments and eliminated over 35 positions at its National Service Center.
Many adult volunteers are unhappy with the rise in fees and have taken to the BSA’s blog to voice their concerns. They say the increase will hurt low-income families who will no longer be able to afford to participate in Scouts. They also say the timing of the announcement is disappointing because some troops have already started collecting membership dues for the coming year.
“It reeks of incompetence and mismanagement,” wrote one volunteer on the blog. “It will force children, leaders, and families away from scouting and to seek out BSA alternatives.”
But the BSA says it will help families who find it difficult to cover their membership fees. The organization has already created a donor-supported fund to provide financial assistance to those who need it.
Furthermore, the BSA argues that even with the increase in fees Scouting is still a great value. “While most extracurricular activities are seasonal, Scouting is a year-round program,” the BSA said in its announcement. “[It] remains one of the most valuable investments we can make to support young men and women.”