Jump to content
Eagle1993

Per WSJ -BSA may declare bankruptcy

Recommended Posts

7 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

I agree that districts are the front line in improving unit quality.  But you can't always invest in stronger district teams.  At any particular time, you have the District Executive and the volunteers that you have, and you can't wait to address a problem for the years it will take to develop a stronger corps of unit commissioners and committee members.

Investments are for the long term.  The BSA will be here in 5 years, so we ought to get on with it now.

There's a trend in many circles (not just Scouting) to look towards that central organization to fix things.  Sometimes it works - but I just don't see it here.  In fact, I think that's part of the reason for the decline in membership of institutions like this. 

Look at the DE position for example.  We've got 1 DE for something like 50 units.  Say all he did was focus on unit quality.  He's at best going to be able to spend 4 hours per unit per month.  What on earth could a fellow do to greatly improve a unit with 4 hours a month.  But, if we really focused on building up district staffs, then you've got 20-30 people who could start making a real impact.  In my district I've started using the phrase "It's not about being a district volunteer, but about building Scouting in our community."  To me that's a pretty noble goal.

Similarly - think about the experience level of your volunteers.  Our DE is a wonderful guy with a lot of Scouting background.  Yet, even with that, if you look around at our leaders in the district and some of our larger units, you've got: lawyers, doctors, teachers, university professors, engineers, scientists - a remarkable range of fantastically skilled professionals.  That's a tremendous amount of potential available to build Scouting.

So, I think if you want to "fix" Scouting - you start here.  Membership is a direct reflection of unit program quality.  Strong units attract more Scouts & do better with retention.  You want better program, you need to focus on it.  The best way to focus on it is more front line support for units.  There isn't enough money in Scouting to pay a huge staff to do that.  So, you do it with strong district teams.  That's where you put your focus,

Edited by ParkMan
clarity

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, FireStone said:

You unfairly characterize this news as part of some liberal agenda or plot by liberals to destroy the BSA. In doing so you insult every liberal BSA member, volunteer, and family. For some reason the moderators tolerate it. I have no idea why.

Really, @FireStone ?  Moderate voices on the forum have been drowned out by the cacophony of "Times change.  BSA must change, too."  We politely disagreed.  Once it became obvious that closed minds were not listening,  we retired to a less vocal status with the caveat "We'll see." 

Now we are seeing.  Part one.

In 1,542 posts, I've never whined about being treated unfairly; or chastised the moderators for allowing viewpoints differing from my own.  My beliefs are strong enough to withstand scrutiny, disagreement and criticism.

I truly hope that National's abdication of its strong leadership position leads to a more localized version of Scouting.  But I fear that councils where abuse occurred will not escape being payees to settlements within their bailiwick.  Funds will diminish.  There is no way to spin this as good news for recruitment numbers.

I lurk on this forum not with morbidity as drawn to a train wreck; but with hope that somehow Scouting will pull it off, and survive to teach and inspire youth as Scouting inspired me.  I don't think that any of the changes recently imposed can be reversed; BSA as I knew it is dead.  Please prove me wrong.

Firestone, several impolite responses come to mind that the Scout Law prohibits me from saying.  So I'll leave you with one piece of advice: grow a sense of humor; you're going to need it.

 

Edited by JoeBob
  • Upvote 2
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, ParkMan said:

But, if we really focused on building up district staffs, then you've got 20-30 people who could start making a real impact.  In my district I've started using the phrase "It's not about being a district volunteer, but about building Scouting in our community."  To me that's a pretty noble goal.

Similarly - think about the experience level of your volunteers.  Our DE is a wonderful guy with a lot of Scouting background.  Yet, even with that, if you look around at our leaders in the district and some of our larger units, you've got: lawyers, doctors, teachers, university professors, engineers, scientists - a remarkable range of fantastically skilled professionals.  That's a tremendous amount of potential available to build Scouting.

So, I think if you want to "fix" Scouting - you start here.  Membership is a direct reflection of unit program quality.  Strong units attract more Scouts & do better with retention.  You want better program, you need to focus on it.  The best way to focus on it is more front line support for units.  There isn't enough money in Scouting to pay a huge staff to do that.  So, you do it with strong district teams.  That's where you put your focus,

ParkMan, thanks.  The BSA organizational model is for a top-heavy district with committees for Finance (including Friends of Scouting and Popcorn), Membership, Program (including Activities, Camping, Training, and Advancement), plus Roundtable Commissioners, plus enough Unit Commissioners that they have an average of no more than three units each.  And that doesn't include the adult support for the Order of the Arrow chapter.  The model is another example of an unnecessary bureaucracy.  And it is counter-intuitive.  Most Scouters get involved in Scouting to work with youth in units.  Many great Scouters move on to other interests outside of Scouting when their youth age out.  Those who stick around usually prefer to continue working in their units.  And very few have the time and inclination to be both active in their units and active at the district level. 

Instead of a large top-down district-level bureaucracy that constantly requires recruiting, almost all of what is considered district-level work could and should be located where the necessary Scouter labor force has already been recruited:  in the units, as collateral duties of the Chartered Organization Representative and two or three adult leaders and/or parents in the unit.  If you have 50 units in a district, that's 150 unit Scouters and parents available to work on district committees with rotating unit representation. 

That would include committees that review unit quality, performed much as camp assessments are now:  a small group of Scouters from different units visit every unit a couple of times a year, armed with a list of best practices (much like unit Journey to Excellence scoresheets).  In addition to ensuring that every unit's program is assessed regularly, this has the benefits of (a) letting Scouters see what other units are up to, and (b) making every unit acutely aware of expectations for program quality.

And that is one less separate Scouting bureaucracy that has to be staffed. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Updated WSJ article :

The group has been clear about the financial threats posed by more than 250 legal challenges brought by former members who allege inappropriate conduct by leaders and volunteers going back to the 1960s. In its 2017 annual report, the Boy Scouts of America said it was aware of “threatened and expanding litigation of a similar nature,” and that it was possible that payments to resolve claims could “have a significant impact on the financial position” of the national organization.

Last year, some Scout leaders at local levels cited increasing legal liability as a reason annual dues for youth members and leaders were rising, in some cases to $33 from $24.

The group’s financial health also will depend on how much of the litigation costs will be covered by its insurance policies. The organization has sued its insurers at least twice since 2013, accusing them of failing to cover costs related to previous sexual-abuse-related lawsuits.

A bankruptcy would raise the question of whether regionally held assets for the national organization could be sold off or otherwise used to compensate victims. The association’s most recent annual report didn’t put a value on the assets held by its local councils or other affiliates.

More details at source:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/boy-scouts-look-for-paths-to-stay-viable-11544747082

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So article puts in play sale of locally owned assets like summer camp facilities, HE (Philmont) etc? So far have heard no way that happens. Also article puts number of SA’s at 250. If so seems like National and local councils will be advisaries if they try to make them sell. Most likely the properties owned by councils where SA’s took place. A lot of ugly stuff is going to come out. This will not be pretty. The minute that the prospect of liability by a Charter organization comes into play, even if just a perception, could mean devastation for Scouts. Wonder how many of the large successful troops out there are Chartered by churches. Most I would bet as is case in our council/district. Perception in the event of turmoil is important to address. Need to be proactive not play catch-up. Anything other than the cryptic email from National an hour before the NYT article was first published?

Edited by Eaglein87

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well the article concludes

The national organization’s position is that a bankruptcy wouldn’t affect the holdings of the local councils, such as campgrounds.

Which reminds me of  my past employers re-orgs and mergers, where upper management stated without blinking "There are no planned layoffs" and weeks later ...oh you've heard this one. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bet there are some criminal prosecuting attorneys on this board that could chime in on local organization liability. I’m willing to bet everything is on the table. Non of this discussion is meant to trivialize what happened to some individuals. It’s horrible all around and I think we are about to start getting to the details of what happened over many years. It is wrong that these assaults were hushed up from the very beginning.

Edited by Eaglein87

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, dkurtenbach said:

ParkMan, thanks.  The BSA organizational model is for a top-heavy district with committees for Finance (including Friends of Scouting and Popcorn), Membership, Program (including Activities, Camping, Training, and Advancement), plus Roundtable Commissioners, plus enough Unit Commissioners that they have an average of no more than three units each.  And that doesn't include the adult support for the Order of the Arrow chapter.  The model is another example of an unnecessary bureaucracy.  And it is counter-intuitive.  Most Scouters get involved in Scouting to work with youth in units.  Many great Scouters move on to other interests outside of Scouting when their youth age out.  Those who stick around usually prefer to continue working in their units.  And very few have the time and inclination to be both active in their units and active at the district level. 

Instead of a large top-down district-level bureaucracy that constantly requires recruiting, almost all of what is considered district-level work could and should be located where the necessary Scouter labor force has already been recruited:  in the units, as collateral duties of the Chartered Organization Representative and two or three adult leaders and/or parents in the unit.  If you have 50 units in a district, that's 150 unit Scouters and parents available to work on district committees with rotating unit representation. 

That would include committees that review unit quality, performed much as camp assessments are now:  a small group of Scouters from different units visit every unit a couple of times a year, armed with a list of best practices (much like unit Journey to Excellence scoresheets).  In addition to ensuring that every unit's program is assessed regularly, this has the benefits of (a) letting Scouters see what other units are up to, and (b) making every unit acutely aware of expectations for program quality.

And that is one less separate Scouting bureaucracy that has to be staffed. 

Precisely.  You pretty well just described how a district team should be staffed.

It's unfortunate that somewhere along the way the idea developed that Scouters need to pick one or the other - they don't.  As you point out, a district team shouldn't be a top down bureaucracy.  The top of the Scouting hierarchy is the unit - the inverted pyramid.  The district concept should really about getting those unit scouters to work together to improve Scouting across the community for unit level Scouts. 

For example.  One thing a district does is organize a district camporee.  Wouldn't the best people to lead the planning of camporee be unit Scouters from around the district who know what the youth want?  So, the district camporee committee ought to be just that - one person from each of the troops who can get together a few times over the course of the year and figure out camporee.  In the process, these folks learn from each other.  The Scouts across the district benefit in two ways: 1) the Scouts get a well thought out camporee with ideas from across the district, and 2) the Scouts get new ideas in their own troops as the natural byproduct of adults working together.  In addition, it's not that much work.  Planning a camporee by yourself is a lot of work.  A team of experienced Scouters from across the district - not as much.

Commissioners should be the same thing.  They should be those very experienced unit Scouters who can serve as a resource and mentor to other units.  You're an experienced ASM who knows how it works?  Could you spare an hour or two a month to be a coach to a unit leader in another unit? 

This is where our National level volunteers have failed.  They've ignored this part of Scouting enough that the concept of a district bureaucracy has evolved.  They've let the idea that it's unit vs. district take hold.  

I'm not quite in agreement though about doing unit assessments and closing down units.  If we go with the idea that a district team is that collection of unit Scouters who work together to help each other succeed.  Assessments should only exist in the most vague way where a commissioner says "hey folks, these troop I'm working with is struggling."  The fix for that is that folks pitch in to then help the unit become successful.  Maybe they're currently lacking someone who knows where to camp or how to recruit new scouts - so someone helps them get going again.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, ParkMan said:

What on earth could a fellow   person do to greatly improve a unit with 4 hours a month.

Not all DEs are men, nor will they be going forward.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, WisconsinMomma said:

Not all DEs are men, nor will they be going forward.  

My deepest apologies for even suggesting that - it was an unintentional omission.  I've been blessed and most fortunate to work with many female Scouters - both as volunteers and professionals.  Our pack and troop leadership teams were probably 50% female and I was happy for that.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, WisconsinMomma said:

Not all DEs are men, nor will they be going forward.  

According to https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fellow

Fellow is gender neutral today. 

Definition of fellow 

 

1 : comrade, associate was eager to rejoin his fellows

2a : an equal in rank, power, or character : peer discussions among a group of fellows from the nearby Los Alamos National Laboratory— Roger Lewin

b : one of a pair : mate

3 : a member of a group having common characteristics specifically : a member of an incorporated literary or scientific society a fellow of the American College of Surgeons

4a obsolete : a person of one of the lower social classes

b archaic : a worthless man or boy

c : man, boy He seems like a fine fellow.

d : boyfriend, beau She and her fellow went to the movies.

5 : an incorporated member of a college or collegiate foundation especially in a British university

6 : a person appointed to a position granting a stipend and allowing for advanced study or research

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a Scouting Magazine from a few years ago on the BSA Congressional Charter: https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2016/06/15/june-15-1916-woodrow-wilson-made-bsa-official/.  In there are some quotes from President Woodrow Wilson:

Quote

The Boy Scout movement should not only be preserved, but strengthened,” he said. “It deserves the support of all public-spirited citizens.

 

Quote

Anything that is done to increase the effectiveness of the Boy Scouts of America will be a genuine contribution to the welfare of the nation,

I have the utmost sympathy for those who suffered abuse at the hands of volunteers in Scouting.  But, suing the BSA and driving it to the point of bankruptcy ends up harming the kids in our country.  We can all sit around and bash national all we want, but fundamentally having Scouting from the Boy Scouts of America is a good thing for the youth of our country.  Loosing the organization and facilities to support Scouting in our country would be a real shame.

I do fully, wholeheartedly, and without any reservation agree that victims of abuse should be compensated.  Further, any adult who abused a child or was involved in it's cover-up should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  I expect that all of the people who were involved in cover-ups of abuse are long since gone so you're not punishing them.  So the people who did this are not being punished.  It's also not like the BSA is a for profit company that needs to be taught a lesson.  It's essentially a public service agency organized as a special kind of corporation.

With 2,000,000 kids in a Scouting program with a Congressional charter, doesn't this kind of become the nation's problem?  Would we shut down a school system and sell it's facilities because teachers in the past had abused children?  Just as a school system has an obligation to provide education to it's community, doesn't a group with a Congressional charter have the obligation to provide Scouting to the youth of our nation?

I'm not suggesting that BSA gets a bailout nor am I suggesting that these lawsuits get stopped.  But, since there is a group with a Congressional charter, perhaps Congress could establish a fund from which to pay these lawsuits?

  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×