FROM ALISON ROUSE
The annual fee for being a Boy Scout will nearly double in 2020, but not at Wetumpka’s Boy Scout Troop 13.
On October 23, the national Boys Scouts of America organization announced it will increase its annual membership fees for Boy Scouts from $33 to $60. The annual fee for adult Scout leader volunteers will also increase from $33 to $36. Both changes become effective January 1, 2020.
To encourage current members to remain in the program as well as attract new members to join, the committee that governs Troop 13 in Wetumpka decided that it will collect just $30 of the national fee from its Boy Scouts. The remainder of the $60 fee per Scout will be subsidized by the troop itself, effectively saving parents $30 per year. The Troop 13 committee had already adopted a policy allowing the troop to fully pay the annual dues of its trained and active Scout leader volunteers.
“When I heard the BSA was raising its annual fees to $60 per Scout, I was shocked by such a large increase,” said Scott Rouse, Scoutmaster of Troop 13. “With school and other extracurricular activities competing for the boys’ time, it was already hard enough to recruit and retain Scouts. I knew Troop 13 needed to do something to keep Scouting accessible to as many boys as possible. There is just so much that youth can gain from Scouting, and it would be tragic if boys were deterred from joining because of this fee hike.”
Troop 13 is an all-boy troop, Rouse continued, and its leaders strongly believe in letting the boys lead. “Even when the boys make mistakes, we will still let them lead,” he explained. “Scouts really learn from those experiences. In our troop, the adults are there for guidance, safety and making sure the bills get paid.”
And beginning in January, those bills will include half of Scouts’ annual fees paid to the national BSA organization. “It will cost the troop some money, but we felt this was an important thing to do,” said Dennis Unger, an assistant scoutmaster at Troop 13. “Fortunately, we have strong support for our troop in the community, especially from First Presbyterian Wetumpka—our chartering organization.”
Even when the church building was nearly destroyed by the January 19 tornado that hit Wetumpka, Troop 13 never lacked for a place to meet. For a couple of months, Trinity Episcopal Church graciously allowed the Scouts to meet there while First Presbyterian made minor repairs to its still-standing fellowship hall. Construction has already begun on rebuilding the church sanctuary and education wing, with plans that include a specially designed Scout room. Projected completion date is summer 2020.
“We just need to make sure we have enough Scouts to fill our new space,” Rouse said, “and keeping down the annual fees is a big part of that.”
For more information about Troop 13, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or come visit a troop meeting. Except for school holidays, the troop meets Monday nights from 6:45-8 p.m. at First Presbyterian Wetumpka, 100 W. Bridge Street.