Wetumpka’s Boy Scout Troop 13 recently pledged to not pass along an increase of national dues following an announcement by the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) annual fees are increasing in 2020.

The annual membership fee increased from $33 to $60 for youth members in Cub Scouts, Sea Scouts, Scouts BSA and Venturing. Adult Scout leaders and youth members in the exploring program will see their fees increase from $33 to $36. Both changes become effective Jan. 1.

The committee that governs Troop 13 decided it will collect just $30 of the national fee from its members and cover the remaining $30.

“When I heard the BSA was raising its annual fees to $60 per scout, I was shocked by such a large increase,” Troop 13 scoutmaster Scott Rouse said. “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.” 

The decision by Troop 13 will effectively saving parents $30 per year. The Troop 13 committee already had a policy in place that allows the troop to fully pay the annual dues of its adult leaders who are trained and active. According to Rouse, Troop 13 is an all-boy troop and its leaders believe in letting the boys lead.

“Even when the boys make mistakes, we will still let them lead,” Rouse said. “Scouts really learn from those experiences. In our troop, the adults are there for guidance, safety and making sure the bills get paid.”

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,” Troop 13 assistant scoutmaster Dennis Unger said. “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 Jan. 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. “Keeping down the annual fees is a big part of that.” 

For more information about Troop 13, e-mail scott.rouse@bellsouth.net or visit a troop meeting. The troop meets 6:45 to 8 p.m. on Monday nights, excluding school holidays, at First Presbyterian Wetumpka located at 100 W. Bridge St.