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Chapter 11 announced - Part 3 - BSA's Toggle Plan


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20 hours ago, Eagle1993 said:
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Pathway to Adventure has significant cash and land assets. A publicly available 990 form shows cash, as of the end of 2019, totaling $27,401,939. Additionally, Pathway to Adventure owns a Camp Napowan in Wisconsin – 400 acres, three-and-a-half hours from headquarters in Chicago. It also owns the Owasippe Scout reservation – 4,800 acres, three-and-a-half hours from headquarters. Pathway to Adventure has essentially conceded Owasippe is not a core asset. In 2012, it solicited bids for the property and a member of the Chicago Area Council Board conceded that “We can run a good Boy Scout camp on a few hundred acres. We don’t need 5,000.”2 In addition to two camps, equidistant to Chicago, BSA owns a building and lot in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago known as the Steve Fossett Center for Scouting. The West Loop is one of the most sought-after areas of real estate development in Chicago. This is in addition to three other offices the same Council maintains in Arlington Heights, Illinois; La Grange, Illinois and Munster, Indiana. It is not clear why a non-profit requires four offices, much less one in a neighborhood with numerous bars and hotels, but few youths.

 

I suppose I should have put the right quote in. 

I just saw on the Pathways to Adventure site that they are going to close the Scout shop in the west Loop store. Probably in anticipation of moving that office to one of the others. 

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44 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

Now, do you see what the insurance companies are like "No way are we paying for this mess."

Do you say that because of the organizational complexity or your experience with a lack of full compliance with the structures as defined and directed by the BSA?

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2 minutes ago, ThenNow said:

Do you say that because of the organizational complexity or your experience with a lack of full compliance with the structures as defined and directed by the BSA?

Both. The insurance companies provided their policies with an understanding that BSA would supervise these adults and utterly failed to do so and let in whomever, whenever, wherever. Moreover, it is clear that BSA KNEW IT HAD A PEDOPHILE PROBLEM and did nothing to tighten up this mess.

The concern was numbers: they did not and will not check to see if CORs are in fact exercising oversight. Instead, they just crossed their fingers and hoped.

That obviously did not work.

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2 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

The insurance companies provided their policies with an understanding that BSA would supervise these adults and utterly failed to do so and let in whomever, whenever, wherever. Moreover, it is clear that BSA KNEW IT HAD A PEDOPHILE PROBLEM and did nothing to tighten up this mess.

"Understanding," as conditions of the policies or by implication? Wouldn't that be a policy by policy and heavily fact-based assessment? I get the general argument, but I still don't buy any blanket defense of coverage denial. They continued to gladly accept premiums-o-plenty far, wide and in the middle of the country. "Cha-Ching! Cha-Ching!"

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Posted (edited)

I'm not sure that the structure for Units with respect to COs is all that different from similar programs that rely on volunteers for the program to run.

I'm part of a troop and pack chartered by a Catholic parish. The pastor always knew who the unit leaders and/or committee chairs were.   But he only knew them as well as he knew the other volunteer program heads.  He certainly knows who the Athletic Director is, but he doesn't necessarily know and certainly doesn't select all the various and sundry coaches, or at least to the extent he does he knows them, it's as parishioners not because they're coaches.  The same would hold true for the Girl Scouts, Girls On the Move, and various other youth groups.

For all these groups there's someone that's the head and then the organizations are essentially self selecting and self sustaining.  The same is going to hold true outside the parish setting in the wider community.  There's a volunteer in charge of all the local rec league sports, who came up through the coaching ranks, who accepts almost whatever parent volunteer wants to coach.  The same is going to hold true for 4H, FFA, etc

Without arguing whether these are good or bad models, my point is that the scouting model isn't particularly different nor would it be expected to have any worse outcomes than all these other organizations.  Unless you're actually hiring someone into a paid position where you're going to be interviewing, vetting, performance reviewing, etc., you're probably relying on the self selection of the volunteers and the self policing of most of the behavior.

Edited by T2Eagle
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Posted (edited)

Just FYI: We are now at or near 300 letters from abuse victims filed with the court in the last week 10 days. Most, if not all, appear to be based on a request from AVA Law Group/Abused in Scouting/Andrew Van Arsdale to make such submissions.

Anyone think that this is going to stop with 300 letters? Nope.

 

Edited by CynicalScouter
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44 minutes ago, T2Eagle said:

Without arguing whether these are good or bad models, my point is that the scouting model isn't particularly different nor would it be expected to have any worse outcomes than all these other organizations. 

This is a good point. The book group at our church operates in a very similar way. The minister knows about it, knows who leads it, but beyond that, it has been "chartered" and it off and does it thing. The "chair" of the book group is known to the minister if there was an issue. 

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2 minutes ago, mrjohns2 said:

This is a good point. The book group at our church operates in a very similar way. The minister knows about it, knows who leads it, but beyond that, it has been "chartered" and it off and does it thing. The "chair" of the book group is known to the minister if there was an issue. 

Except that

  1. the book group does not have access to young children
  2. is not based on a binding contract/charter that
  3. requires the minister ensure certain oversight and standards are observed
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9 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:
  • is not based on a binding contract/charter that
  • requires the minister ensure certain oversight and standards are observed

The provisions you noted seem rather squishy. Enough to bring the CO into the liability tent, but by no means enough to allow the insurers to wash their hands of policy obligation or, of course, give the BSA wiggle room against their own negligence. I'm just trying to cipher out this relatively new terrain (for me). Didn't realize the CO is charged with "conducting" the train. Huh. Quite a layer cake of liability. Plenty of pieces to go around, me thinks. 

The Chartered Organization agrees to:

• Conduct the Scouting program consistent with BSA rules, regulations, and policies.

• Assure that adults selected as unit leaders are suitable by, at a minimum, having the appropriate leaders of the Chartered Organization review and sign each application

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52 minutes ago, T2Eagle said:

Without arguing whether these are good or bad models, my point is that the scouting model isn't particularly different nor would it be expected to have any worse outcomes than all these other organizations.  Unless you're actually hiring someone into a paid position where you're going to be interviewing, vetting, performance reviewing, etc., you're probably relying on the self selection of the volunteers and the self policing of most of the behavior.

I agree that BSA's model is not much better or worse than other youth organizations at this time.  However, times have changed and I expect many youth serving organizations are going to have to evaluate their policies.  Why?  Insurance coverage.  Insurance companies will see the billions of dollars from the BSA lawsuit and increase their rigor when insuring youth organizations.

One example form below.  This is from an insurance company to buy sex abuse insurance for your organization.  You can see in their questionnaire, they ask for details on how you vet volunteers.  BSA does not do (picture IDs, personal interviews, personal references checked (we list them, how often checked), 5 years of employment history checked).  In fact, for volunteers, we only tick off 1 of the boxes listed.  Then look at background checks ... I don't think any one of us has been fingerprinted.  

https://www.greatamericaninsurancegroup.com/docs/default-source/specialty-human-services/abuse.pdf?sfvrsn=b79271b1_4

So, I expect the BSA bankruptcy to have a major impact on all youth organizations.  Organizations will have a choice going forward.

  • Drop their youth programming (see NMRA (https://www.nmra.org/nmra-risk-persons-policy). 
  • Greatly increase their rigor on adding employees & volunteers, likely enforced through insurance company contracts
  • Go without insurance (typically no assets, small groups)

BSA's current model of having a CO sign off on volunteers is likely going to be questioned by their insurance companies going forward (and COs as well).  Someone will need to vet, interview, call references, etc.  

 

 

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Posted (edited)

 

1 hour ago, T2Eagle said:

I'm not sure that the structure for Units with respect to COs is all that different from similar programs that rely on volunteers for the program to run.

I'm part of a troop and pack chartered by a Catholic parish. The pastor always knew who the unit leaders and/or committee chairs were.   But he only knew them as well as he knew the other volunteer program heads.  He certainly knows who the Athletic Director is, but he doesn't necessarily know and certainly doesn't select all the various and sundry coaches, or at least to the extent he does he knows them, it's as parishioners not because they're coaches.  The same would hold true for the Girl Scouts, Girls On the Move, and various other youth groups.

For all these groups there's someone that's the head and then the organizations are essentially self selecting and self sustaining.  The same is going to hold true outside the parish setting in the wider community.  There's a volunteer in charge of all the local rec league sports, who came up through the coaching ranks, who accepts almost whatever parent volunteer wants to coach.  The same is going to hold true for 4H, FFA, etc

Without arguing whether these are good or bad models, my point is that the scouting model isn't particularly different nor would it be expected to have any worse outcomes than all these other organizations.  Unless you're actually hiring someone into a paid position where you're going to be interviewing, vetting, performance reviewing, etc., you're probably relying on the self selection of the volunteers and the self policing of most of the behavior.

That's exactly why COs are so confused about their role with BSA. With most other organizations the relationship is simply one of benign support. We also have church chartered units and the pastors know a couple of people in the organization, generally the person who comes and asks them to sign something, but they know no one else. Most of the CORs are that in name only and don't belong to the congregation. There no longer is any connection between the congregations and the unit. This isn't an issue for any other organization because they are not looking for the CO to hold a supervisory role. The reality is that the scouting model is vastly different for the CO and a supervisory role is indeed required, it's just not recognized as such. That this responsibility isn't highlighted and better emphasized is due to the conflict that BSA has had in maintaining membership numbers at all costs. 

 

 

Edited by yknot
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32 minutes ago, ThenNow said:

The provisions you noted seem rather squishy. Enough to bring the CO into the liability tent, but by no means enough to allow the insurers to wash their hands of policy obligation or, of course, give the BSA wiggle room against their own negligence. I'm just trying to cipher out this relatively new terrain (for me).

Good point. The CO could easily read the charter with "blah blah blah.... we will have liability coverage to keep you safe. Ok! I'll sign."

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26 minutes ago, ThenNow said:

The provisions you noted seem rather squishy. Enough to bring the CO into the liability tent, but by no means enough to allow the insurers to wash their hands of policy obligation or, of course, give the BSA wiggle room against their own negligence. I'm just trying to cipher out this relatively new terrain (for me). Didn't realize the CO is charged with "conducting" the train. Huh. Quite a layer cake of liability. Plenty of pieces to go around, me thinks. 

The Chartered Organization agrees to:

• Conduct the Scouting program consistent with BSA rules, regulations, and policies.

• Assure that adults selected as unit leaders are suitable by, at a minimum, having the appropriate leaders of the Chartered Organization review and sign each application

This is complicated by the fact that while on paper BSA assigns responsibility to COs, in practice it does not ensure those responsibilities are being carried out. Every council is different, so there may be some where COs were more conscientiously  supervised and had their charters pulled for lack of unit supervision, but that would never happen in my area because it would result in lost units and membership. BSA in my experience does not care if the CO has any role in the operations of the unit. It knowingly abdicates this oversight responsibility. 

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4 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

Some things are non-negotiable

I'd say everything is negotiable, it just depends on how one negotiates and how much leverage one has. Ignore the org charts. Power comes from people following someone. If the people that are supposed to follow you don't trust you then there are other ways to go around you. Make your life miserable, ignore your requests, etc.

I see this in the BSA/council relationships. Councils can ignore the BSA up to an extent. At the same time the BSA has to be careful how it tells all the councils what to do. At some point national could fire the council exec, but that's rarely done. I suspect this is why councils can't pick their own council execs, national is afraid of losing control.

 

3 hours ago, ThenNow said:

So, who is responsible (directly and ultimately) for the selection and oversight of Unit leaders and what is the interplay between the COs

This is not the military, there is no chain of command. Theory has it that the CO picks the leader but most COs don't even understand scouts. There's a roughly one page agreement the charter signs each year. I have no idea what it says even though I was a SM for 12 years and got them to sign it. BTW, that was the CC's job but I just did it. Next, one might say the unit committee chair picks the unit "leader" (SM, cub master) but even that is a bit hazy. Often it's just finding someone that is willing to do it. As for responsibility, the council won't step in unless things go way off the rails. They certainly don't ensure the program. It's like the relationship between national and the councils, as long as you're not way over the line you're left alone.

This whole thing is based on trust. If you're a good unit leader then your scouts will have a good experience and hopefully your unit will grow. If you're just okay, well, that's not so bad. Until you get cross wise with the law or a ton of parents complain, it's really easy to create a fiefdom. I suspect that is not what you want to hear.

 

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5 minutes ago, MattR said:

I suspect that is not what you want to hear.

Not the case at all. I was just asking and appreciate all the perspectives.

As to "this is not the military," my SM called us the Green Berets of Scouting. He would measure the placement of patches on our uniforms and sashes, and point out poor stitching. 

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