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(The national organization of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday 18 February 2020 to achieve two key objectives: equitably compensate victims who were harmed during their time in Scouting and to continue to carry out Scouting’s mission for years to come.
Important to note, BSA local councils have not filed for bankruptcy. Their programs and that of their units (Cub Scout Packs, Scouts BSA Troops, Venturing Crews, Sea Scout Ships, Explorer Posts, and STEM Scout Labs) will continue with little to no disruption.
A video explains the Chapter 11 process and how it will help the BSA meet those two objectives listed above:
For more information on how the BSA keeps kids safe in Scouting today, visit https://www.scouting.org/about/youth-safety/ )
Like many of you, when I first heard the word "bankruptcy," my mind immediately went to images in my mind of shuttered doors and boarded up windows, with signage announcing that the business is "closed until further notice." My first thought in finding a graphic to illustrate this posting was to look for a "closed due to bankruptcy" image.
This is NOT the case with the BSA. The BSA continues to be "in business" of providing what I call "strong future leaders and citizens of quality character." There's no change there. As many Scouters would tell me, "All Scouting is local," and the local BSA Councils continue to exist, thrive, and grow even though the National Center and it's teams of employees are going through some stuff right now.
The BSA did a wonderful job in warning us that this MAY happen, two years ago. They provided information and guidance which stated three key messages -- messages I want to share with you again, for the record.
The first message is probably the most important one: the cases being made against the BSA are for crimes that occurred, prosecuted, and people spent jail time for as far back as 60 YEARS AGO (the 1960s...this is 2020). The BSA assisted local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in prosecuting lots of criminals -- while at the same time barring them from returning to the BSA's programs ever again. Did the BSA get this right all of the time? Absolutely NOT. There were many in the BSA's "Ineligible Membership Roster" -- a roster the BSA has been maintaining since the 1930s -- who did nothing more than "be Gay or Lesbian," "countermanded the Scout Executive (or a key volunteer) in his Council," or simply "undesirable for membership" for any number of reasons as "certified" by a Council's Scout Executive. The BSA took the word of those Council Scout Executive and the names and information stayed on the roster.
As word got out that some Scout Executives were not totally honest and upfront why they sent names, addresses, and phone numbers of those "undesirables" to the National Offices, the BSA started to correct those entries. Some people got written or verbal apologies in reinstating their membership. Others got nothing. Still others to this day are sitting on a list of "undesirable members," which they have no clue how they got into such a "scarlet letter" list. There is an appeal process, but because people cannot talk with those making those decisions in person, many just gave up and found other things to assist their communities with.
The BSA offered a public apology as part of their official statement earlier this week and asked if anyone was abused in the past to please step up and let them know. The trust fund set aside will fairly compensate anyone in those situations, even after decades of "stonewalling" and "deflection" at the hands of those people wanting to "defend the BSA's right to exist."
For the most part, though, those accused found themselves out of the BSA and in many cases behind bars. The BSA's current policy is to remove individuals from registration.
Which leads to the second message I want to share with all of you: the BSA's youth protection program and training WORKS and continues to work for the benefit of those involved in the programs: parents, Scouters (Scout leaders), counselors and most importantly the youth of our programs. Since 1980 when the BSA woke up and discovered that they needed something to train, coach, and warn both youth and adults, the BSA's youth protection training (YPT) program was revised six times. Each time the training got tougher and tougher to get "around" it. Those who want to do harm to youth or adults know this.
The BSA's YPT has become the "gold standard" of youth protection training
In order for an adult to be registered IN ANY ROLE dealing with YOUTH OR ADULTS, they have to submit to a background investigation, which the BSA pays for as part of the national registration fee. This ensures that before they engage with youth members, those adults are "vetted" and evaluated for their suitability in dealing with and being around youth members. ALL programs, not just the Cub and Scout programs.
Additionally, ALL roles now require a background check...and not one of those one-time "let's call Sheriff Taylor and see if there are anything on Charles" phone calls. The background checks are now also done RANDOMLY while the person is registered. This is a big change from the "one and done" background checks previously with local law enforcement. While some evil people can get around the BSA's current registration process and the background check, I am assured that when adults interact with and "hang out" with youth, that yes, they have been checked and cleared for work with youth through the BSA.
(No, this did NOT start when female youth started being enrolled in our Cub Scout and Scouts BSA programs. It started TWO YEARS BEFORE those two programs enrolled their first female youth members!)
The third important message I want to share with all of you is that SCOUTING CONTINUES. That "out of business" sign I mentioned earlier does NOT apply with the BSA. Our programs are "locally done." Scouts are members of local units, under the supervision of a local BSA Council. So whatever happens nationally has LITTLE TO NO EFFECT on what happens here in Dayton, or Minneapolis/St Paul, or St. Louis or even overseas with BSA units in Hong Kong, India, Australia, Zaire, Rome or Stuttgart.
Cub Scouts will still go to day camps. Scouts will continue to go to summer camps. Venturers will continue to take "outdoor adventures" (what the BSA calls "High Adventures"). Sea Scouts will continue to take "long cruises." Our programs will continue. Scouts will continue to earn the Arrow of Light, Eagle, Summit and Quartermaster Awards. We will still have our first female Eagle "cohort" group in 2021. Planning continues toward a National Scout Jamboree in 2021.
In short...we continue to move FORWARD regardless of whatever goes on legally with the Boy Scouts of America.
The BSA is NOT going out of business. Scouting continues because, for the most part, Scouting is local -- in your community, your county. Youth protection has been working, does work and as the saying goes, it starts with "you." You're going to hear and see (because it is a social media environs today) ads intoning to "get your share of the BSA's BILLIONS of dollars set aside for victim compensation -- don't be left out!". Don't believe the hype but DO believe that the BSA is poised to fairly compensate any and everyone involved in abuse or harm by the hands of a BSA employee, professional, or volunteer.
There has NEVER been a better time to be involved or to support Scouting than TODAY. Trust me when I say this: it is only going to get BETTER AND BETTER as time goes onward.