Bankruptcy of Boy Scouts of America, letter from the National Council

February 18, 2020

Letter from the Boy Scouts of America late on February 17, 2020, regarding bankruptcy filing by the National Council. This letter is directed chiefly at registered Scout leaders.

Boy Scouts of America

Dear Scouting Family,

Today, the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to achieve two key objectives: equitably compensate victims who were harmed during their time in Scouting and continue to carry out Scouting’s mission for years to come.

While the word “bankruptcy” can be intimidating, it is important to know that Scouting programs will continue. Your regular unit meetings and activities, district and council events, other Scouting adventures and countless service projects will take place as usual.

We took this action today amid increasing financial pressure on the BSA from litigation involving past abuse in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, we provide counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward. Our plan is to use this Chapter 11 process to create a Trust that would provide equitable compensation to these individuals.

As we go through this process, we want to make certain that all Scouting parents and volunteers know the following:

  • Scouting is safer now than ever before. Approximately 90% of the pending and asserted claims against the BSA relate to abuse that occurred more than 30 years ago. As someone close to Scouting, you know the safety of children in our programs is the BSA’s absolute top priority and that one instance of abuse is one too many. That’s precisely why over many years we’ve developed some of the strongest expert-informed youth protection policies found in any youth-serving organization.From mandatory youth protection training and background checks for all volunteers and staff, to policies that prohibit one-on-one interaction between youth and adults and require that any suspected abuse is reported to law enforcement, our volunteers and employees take youth protection extremely seriously and do their part to help keep kids safe. You can read more about the BSA’s multi-layered safeguards and our efforts to be part of the broader solution to child abuse at www.scouting.org/youth-safety. In fact, this is a resource that you can share with friends and family who are interested in understanding what the BSA is doing to keep kids safe.
  • Scouting continues. Scouting programs will continue to serve youth, families and local communities throughout this process and for many years to come. Just last year, communities across the country benefited from more than 13 million Scouting service hours, and young men and women earned more than 1.7 million merit badges that represent skills that will help them succeed throughout their lives. Studies prove and parents agree that Scouting helps young people become more kind, helpful and prepared for life, and as long as those values remain important to our society, Scouting will continue to be invaluable to our nation’s youth.
  • Local councils have not filed for bankruptcy. Local councils – which provide programming, financial, facility and administrative support to Scouting units in their communities – are legally separate, distinct and financially independent from the national organization.

We know you will likely have questions about these issues and things you will see in the news. We have posted information about our restructuring on a dedicated website, www.BSArestructuring.org.

This site includes a helpful Resources page, where you will find a short video explaining what Chapter 11 means for Scouting, as well as a FAQ and a reference document that will help you discuss this announcement with youth in our programs. The site also includes a Milestones page, which will be your best source for the latest updates throughout this process.

If these resources don’t answer your questions, please feel free to reach out to us through Member Care at 972-580-2489 or MyScouting@Scouting.org. We will do everything we can to provide helpful, transparent responses and ensure your Scouting experience continues to be a great one.

Yours in Scouting,

Jim Turley
National Chair

Ellie Morrison
National Commissioner

Roger Mosby
President & CEO

 


Exxon-Mobil’s Rex Tillerson urges Scouts to get on with the “main thing,” Scouting, after historic membership policy vote

June 11, 2013

Late last month the national board, the governing body of the Boy Scouts of America, voted to open Scouting again to Scouts who have determined they are homosexual.

Scout leaders voted to change a 22-year-old membership policy that effectively banned Boy Scouts from being homosexual, or acknowledging they are gay.  The policy was a haphazard outgrowth of a 1991 policy change, still in effect, that bans homosexuals from leadership positions.  Over the past decade the issue heated up, with a few boys having completed their work to earn Scouting’s highest rank, Eagle, and then being denied the rank when officials discovered they were homosexual.

No brief description does full justice to the issue, to the change in policy, nor to the difficulty of discussions surrounding the change.  Several national groups assailed BSA for even considering the change, including the Family Research Council and members of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Discussions in some quarters were as ugly as any I’ve seen on any issue anywhere — worse than union votes in non-union corporations, worse than votes to cut teacher pay in state legislatures, worse than civil rights votes, worse than abortion issues.

Bryan Wendall’s blog, Bryan on Scouting, is a semi-official mouthpiece for Scouting — he is the editor of Scouting magazine, the monthly publication to leaders of Boy Scouting.  At the blog, where serious discussions of the new policy unfolded since February, Bryan posted a video of immediate past President of Boy Scouting National Council, Rex Tillerson, talking about the next steps.  I’ve reproduced Bryan’s introduction, and the video.  Discussions at that blog have been rather intense (but not nearly so ugly as those at Family Research Council venues, and at WorldNet Daily).

One more piece of background:  In Scout leader training, two mantras rising over the past 15 years involve reminding leaders to stick to the main purposes of Scouting in any controversy, to help get through difficulties or crises in unit management or local organization issues:  “Remember, we do it for the boys, they are the main thing.”  And, “The main thing to remember is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”  Tillerson knows Scouting, and knows Scouters, when he makes his appeal.

Rex Tillerson at 2013 National Board meeting of BSA

Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson exhorted Scouters to get on with ‘the main thing,’ making Scouting work for boys. Tillerson is a Distinguished Eagle Scout, and past national president of the organization; he remains active in his local Scouting organizations, in Circle 10 Council in Dallas, Texas, and surrounding counties. Photo by Michael Roytek/BSA

Rex Tillerson speaks out about change and ‘The Main Thing’

“So we’ve made the decision. We’re going to change,” says Rex Tillerson. ”Now what?”

Less than 24 hours after the volunteer delegates voted to change the BSA’s membership policy for youth, Tillerson addressed a large room full of Scouting volunteers and professionals at the closing general session of the BSA’s National Annual Meeting.

In a powerful, heartfelt speech, Tillerson made his message clear: Change is inevitable, but “The Main Thing,” which is to serve more youth in Scouting, hasn’t changed. With that in mind, he reasoned, it’s time for all of us unite toward this common goal.

Tillerson, immediate past president of the Boy Scouts of America and a 2010 Silver Buffalo recipient, knows something about making big decisions and dealing with change. When he’s not serving as a Scouting volunteer, he’s the chairman, president, and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., one of the world’s largest companies.

In 1999, Tillerson worked for Exxon when it merged with Mobil—definitely a big change for both companies.

Take 10 minutes to watch the video below and listen to Tillerson’s message. Then, share it with the members of your Scouting family.

Are you volunteering in any way in Scouting now?  You should.

More:


Earning every Boy Scout merit badge

July 14, 2008

Dan Bates served on the staff at Camp Maple Dell for at least the part of one summer when I was on junior staff there, in Utah’s Payson Canyon (1969? 1970?). Maple Dell is a Boy Scout camp operated by the Utah National Parks Council, B.S.A.

I remember Dan because he was one of those overachieving guys who had earned every possible merit badge — 121 at the time, if I recall correctly. By comparison, there are 21 merit badges necessary to earn Eagle Scout (which Dan is, also).

It didn’t go to his head at all. Dan was a great guy, from Heber, Utah, a small town up Provo Canyon in one of the world’s most beautiful valleys. Heber used to be separated from much of Utah by snow every year, but the roads are kept clear these days.

Once I asked Dan what possessed him to get every merit badge, and without pausing long, he said, “What else do you do in Heber in the winter?” It was a flip answer unexpected from the usually more sober Bates.

I think about Dan this time of year when the news stories start appearing about a new Scout, somewhere, who has earned every merit badge. One of the common themes of these stories: Has anyone else ever done it?

Eagle Scout Travis Cochran, California, holder of every merit badge

Eagle Scout Travis Cochran, California, holder of every merit badge

In The Press-Enterprise in San Bernardino, County, California, for example, the June 25 issue reports the achievements of Travis Cochran:

If Don Townsend was a betting man he’d put money on the fact that Travis Cochran is the only Boy Scout to have earned every merit badge and the Bronze and Silver Hornaday Medals.

Cochran, 18, of Cedarpines Park, earned 122 merit badges during his scouting career. Twenty-one merit badges must be earned to reach the rank of Eagle Scout.

There is a qualification in this story — Cochran also earned the Bronze and Silver Hornaday Conservation Medals — but you see the drift.

Alas, there is no central location for information about such achievements that I have ever found. Tracking the achievements of Boy Scouts, like the tremendous accomplishments of Scouts Dan Bates and Travis Cochran, generally falls to the local unit. Sometimes a local Boy Scout Council will have some information, but usually not.

History sneaks away so often because no one bothers to invite it to stick around.

Do you know of other Boy Scouts who earned every possible merit badge? We had one such Scout in the Circle 10 Council (Dallas) last year. How many others sneaked by without the hoopla they deserve?

Dan Bates, where are you these days?

Update, August 2009:  Dan Bates has been found!

Dan wrote in from Mesa, Arizona, and the Grand Canyon Council — see his note in comments, below.  Turns out I remembered it incorrectly — he had 100 merit badges, but not all of them.  His brother got them all.  Glad for the correction.  Happier to have found Mr. Bates.

Other resources:

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