Kids ages 5-10 are able to become Cub Scouts and learn useful lessons in the outdoors. Like joining Scouting though, becoming a Cub Scout also costs money. In this article, I’ll be breaking down all of the costs that you’ll need to be prepared for before joining a Cub Scout pack!
For a Cub Scout just joining, expect to pay around $250 to cover the costs of their uniform, handbook, and troop dues for their first year. If you want them to be able to participate in additional activities and a Summer camp, budget another $400. However, these costs can be significantly reduced.
Wow, that isn’t cheap. However, while Cub Scouting can seem like a lot of money upfront, don’t worry— in this article, we’ll also be going over some ways to lower the costs of Cub Scouting!
Cub Scout Uniform Costs
Cub Scout uniforms cost about as much as any other Scout uniform (around $140), but Cub Scout troops tend to be more casual about dress codes since they’re dealing with younger kids. In most cases, Cub Scouts won’t be required to wear a full uniform except during special events.
The uniform required for each Cub Scout depends on their rank. For example, Lions (kindergarteners) are only required to wear a Lion t-shirt and hat. Lions can choose to wear the rest of the official uniform, but it is not required.
Tigers (first graders) through Bears (third graders) all wear the same shirt, pants, and belt. Every year they get a new:
- Neckerchief and slide
- Pair of socks
- Rank Patch
Webelos (fourth and fifth graders) have to follow a stricter dress code during official events and must wear a tan uniform. In addition, they also have a few more options for the type of shirt and pants they will wear. This does a few things:
- Helps them prepare to move onto Scouts BSA because they wear the same tan-colored uniform
- Sets Weblos apart as being the eldest when around other Cub Scouts
- Gets Cub Scouts familiar with slightly more complex uniforms and stricter guidelines
Here is a handy chart to see what each rank needs to join up from the official Scouting catalog (As of 2020):
|Item||Lion||Tiger, Wolf, Bear||Webelos|
$24.99 to $29.99
$29.99 to $49.99
$19.99 to $24.99
$19.99 to $49.99
(included with belt)
|Total Cost (rounded):|
$104.00 to $114.00
$110.00 to $160.00
Remember — This is the cost for a complete official uniform! In fact, many Cub Scout troops don’t even require every single piece. I’d recommend asking other Cub Scout parents or your troop leaders for their advice on what you should purchase. If this seems a bit pricy, don’t fret! In a few sections, I’ll tell you a few tips on how to significantly reduce costs. 🙂
Cub Scout Handbook Costs
In addition to a uniform, each rank of Cub Scouts has its own handbook. Each handbook lasts an entire year and does not need to be supplemented with other books. These handbooks act as each scout’s guide through their year in the program. It contains:
- Merit badge requirements
- Rank level requirements
- A roadmap for moving onto the next rank
- Lessons and suggestions for the scout
A Cub Scout’s handbook will usually cost around $20 for a spiral bound copy.
Many troops will have extra copies of the handbook which they can lend to scouts who can’t afford a book of their own. You can also try looking on eBay or similar sites for a secondhand copy!
Cub Scout Yearly Costs
Over the course of the year, you’ll likely find that additional Cub Scouting expenses will pop up. A major expense that you’ll need to keep in mind are dues. Troops and packs collect dues in order to fund all of the fun activities that your Cub Scout. will get to participate in.
Most troops collect their dues annually or bi-annually. The actual amount a troop will charge will vary based on how active the troop is and how many activities they plan each year. Because of the many factors involved, the best way to find out the cost of Cub Scouting in your area is just to ask your local pack!
According to a poll of current Cub Scouting members though, most families pay between $100 to $200 per year in troop dues, per scout, not including uniforms or one-time fees.
For a year’s worth of fun activities for your Cub Scout though, this seemingly-high price might be a bargain! Dues are used to help pay for:
- Camping trips, museum visits, or any other planned adventures
- Gas money for leaders transporting scouts
- Road meals for scouts when they’re on a road trip
- The Troop’s charter fee (a fee paid to keep an official troop open)
- Liability insurance to cover all the scouts on their adventures
Dues help to pay for all of these things and more, ensuring the troop can have a fun, safe, and educational year of adventure! Also, pack dues can be significantly offset through a Cub Scout’s fundraising efforts.
How Much Does Cub Scouts Cost in Total?
We’ve covered the costs of uniforms, handbooks, and troop dues for Cub Scouts. The only other potential costs are special activities that packs and troops sometimes have the opportunity to be a part of.
Once in a while, your pack might get the opportunity to do something really unique, but the entrance cost will be too much for normal troop dues to cover. This could be tickets to a special museum exhibit, a last-minute camping trip, a regional Cub Scout meetup, or any other special event.
In the case optional activities, the troop leader will typically ask the parents of each participating Cub Scout to pitch in and help cover their own costs.
For example, many parents also choose to send their scouts off to Summer camp for a few days of fun. Summer camps aren’t usually covered by troop dues and have to be paid for separately.
Most Cub Scout summer camps will cost around $300. But remember— while they are a great experience for a scout to have, they are also totally optional.
All in all, if your Cub Scout is joining for the first time, expect to pay around $250 to cover their uniform, handbook, and troop dues for their first year. If you want them to be able to participate in all the special activities and a summer camp, budget another $400.
Lowering the Costs of Being a Cub Scout
$250+ can be a big buy-in price for some families. Thankfully, both Scouts BSA and local troops want Scouting to be accessible to as many kids as possible!
Therefore, there are almost always “campership” (scholarship) funds to families who wouldn’t be able to participate otherwise. The best way to find out how to apply to available camperships is to ask the troop you intend to join. They can point you towards local campership resources so that you can get your application started!
Additionally, many packs fundraise throughout the year. If your Cub Scout helps in these efforts and sells goods like Scouting popcorn, some of the money they raise can be used to offset your costs. This can significantly lower the cost of joining, so look around for a troop that’s very active in fundraising.
Here are some other things you can do to help offset the costs of becoming a Cub Scout:
- Buy uniform items second-hand
- Only buy the uniform pieces your troop requires
- Buy uniform in a larger size so your scout doesn’t outgrow them too quickly
How Are Cub Scouting Dues Spent?
If you’re also wondering how all of the money you pay in dues is spent, this video (6:39) from Pack 680 does a great job of breaking down a typical Cub Scout troop’s budget!
While this may seem like a lot of money, remember that Scouting is an investment in your child’s future! Personally, while I didn’t have the opportunity to join Cub Scouts, I loved my time in Scouts BSA and learned some incredibly valuable lessons along the way.
If you’re still on the fence, I’d highly recommend learning about some of the main benefits of Scouting (such as college admissions, scholarships, and more). You can check out the section I wrote on whether Scouting is worth doing here.