Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trying to decide about Scouts this year

Last night was the kick-off night for Cub Scouts.  My cubs didn't go, which is probably a good thing, as it turns out.  Connor had to be at the patrol leader meeting for Boy Scouts, and I attended the cub parent meeting.

So now I have to decide what to do with Richard.  He is supposed to be a Tiger this year, however I'm not sure we really can afford to do that.  I knew having four scouts was going to be tough.  But yikes, they are making too many changes.
  1. They are upping the amount of popcorn sales needed to cover the basic expense.  $470ish per scout in sales, or we have to pay.  Multiply that by two cubs.  Add the fact that my boy scouts need to sell some too, or we simply cannot afford things like summer camp.  Last year, they had to sell $250 per cub scout, so this is a dramatic increase, nearly double.  And seeing as our closest neighbors are cattle... and most of our closest people neighbors are unemployed... well...
  2. They are doubling the weekly den dues.  Okay, that doesn't bother me a whole lot, but still... it's one more nickel and dime thing right now.  And if they both go next Monday, honestly, that means I now have roughly $1.50 to spend on groceries Monday (I spent $12 last night).  I thought I'd have enough to purchase eggs, maybe a cantaloupe, and possibly a loaf of bread.
  3. They are changing which awards they will pay for out of the pack, and which the parents need to cover. As in, more stuff will be the responsibility of the parents.  I assume that is going to hit Webelos the hardest (Thomas, in other words).
  4. And the advancement person will be buying all the awards, then billing us for our portion.  Which means I can't recycle things from big brothers (and uncle!) and will actually have to PAY for them.  And with Webelos, who have to re-earn belt loops, is it going to mean that I'm having to pay for belt loops that Thomas has already earned and been awarded, but is forced to earn a second time?  I don't WANT to pay for things we already own.  These two will way more than double what we have to pay for awards.  Or, more likely, it means I can't allow the boys to earn anything more than the bare minimum.
  5. Finally, they are increasing the number of activities happening, which obviously is going to increase costs as well.  Pretty dramatically, it sounds like.
I'm not sure we can do this.  I think that Richard is going to have to wait until he is a 4th grader -- Webelos age -- to join scouts.  I really don't think we can rationalize it with this huge of an increase in costs this year. 

I sat down with my older scouts last night and had a serious talk.  Connor understands that he cannot attend summer camp going forward.  Both boy scouts know that we are going to have to start being picky about which events they attend.  And Thomas knows that just because his pack is going skating or bowling or whatever, doesn't mean he will be.  So far, our approach has pretty much been -- if they are open, we are there.  But even if we don't let Richard join, the cost increases for Thomas are going to mean less for my Boy Scouts. 

I think scouting is fantastic.  You know that if you've read my blog for any length of time.  But I just don't know if Cubs is going to continue to be possible for us.


Tess said...

Oh Debra! I'm so sorry. I know how important scouting is to your family.

Debra said...

Thanks Tess. You know, I was just trying to figure some things out, and in "talking" (writing actually) it out... it occurred to me that Thomas could do Lone Scouts for Webelos. Nowhere near as much fun, but I already know that if either Dale or I are attending, he is welcome on the Boy Scout camping trips. That would cost us a tiny, TINY fraction of what the pack is going to, and he wouldn't have to lose out on earning his Arrow of Light that way.

I'm pretty sure you can't do Lone Scouts until 2nd grade, so Richard would miss out on Tigers, but since he was the only Tiger on the sign-up sheet, it's not like he'd be missing major socialization.

I'm calling council in a half hour to see what I need to do to make Lone Scouting work.

Thomas is going to HATE me for this, but wow, the more I look at it, the more I know we CANNOT afford Cub Scouts anymore.

What I really HATE though is that he has three incredibly wonderful men who are his den leaders. Fantastically wonderful men. I love their influence on him, I really do. At least he can have them back in his life in 18 months as a Boy Scout, right?

Anonymous said...

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Keep up the good work!

Johanna said...

I'm sorry you have to make this hard decision! I didn't realize at first, but the church that sponsors our scout group covers a lot of our expenses. Even so, it can get costly with the Go, See, Do's and other events.

Debra said...

Johanna -- thanks! If I only had one scout, or even two, I don't think I'd be so stressed. We are going to go on Monday and see what is going to happen with Tigers.

We'll be signing up for every Show & Sell popcorn opportunity we can... and otherwise, we'll just pay the fees instead of trying to sell all that popcorn.

I also have heard that if I'm aggressive about it, I should be able to recycle pins and loops and such and not pay for those again. I just need to be VERY on the ball. And stand my ground. So, that's not quite as bad.

I doubt we'll be participating in all the activities though. Not given the rest of the increases.

Michelle Smith said...

Debra, I'm sorry. On the one hand, the Tiger year is not a very "important" year. It just doesn't really make an impact on whether or not the boys stick with it through Boy Scouts.

But, before you decide, talk to your local council. Talk to the District Executive. I think that he will try to help make a way for your boys to participate. We have lots of programs here to help all boys do scouting.