As we near the end of the year, there are a couple recent developments that Scouters need to pay attention to, for the good of our Scouts, units and families.
Training in progress
If you’ve taken any of the online basic training courses recently, you know how they are structured. Instead of a single course that might run an hour or two, basic training is divided into manageable chunks that only take a few minutes to complete. The total time isn’t any less, but the format is organized into logical sections so you can better understand what’s being presented. It also allows you to take a few segments here and there, and your progress is saved. If you can’t devote an uninterrupted two hour span, you can train a little at a time as long as you finish everything up.
Finishing everything up is the issue now. The Boy Scouts of America’s national training team is planning to roll out revised courses after January 1. The new courses will be inclusive of Family Scouting, with material revised to include both boys and girls, as well as other program changes and policy updates.
To make this happen, we are being told that any “saved” progress is going to be wiped out as of January 1. So, if you’ve finished some of the segments of your online position-specific training, you have two options: Either finish the remaining segments before December 31, or start over after January 1. Anything you’ve completed short of the complete course will go away.
You might consider whether you’ve only done a couple segments, or are nearly finished. If you’re just about done, find time in the next few days to wrap up your training. If, on the other hand, you’re just getting started – or haven’t started yet – waiting until January 1 to start, or start over, will benefit you in another way – you’ll be getting the very latest training for your position.
Of course, once taken, position-specific training doesn’t expire – even if you first took your training decades ago. Still, if you’re coming back into Scouting, or haven’t trained in some time, you might want to retake training so you’ll be up to date on the latest information.
Check with your Unit Commissioner, district unit-serving Executive, or member of the council training team if you have any questions.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that “The Boy Scouts of America is considering filing for bankruptcy protection as it faces dwindling membership and escalating legal costs related to lawsuits over how it handled allegations of sex abuse.” Indeed, the BSA has retained the services of prominent bankruptcy law firm Sidley Austin, LLP to explore a possible bankruptcy reorganization filing in the wake of some million-plus-dollar settlements resulting from alleged sexual abuse of youth participants, many going back five and six decades. Similar action has been undertaken by other youth organizations such as USA Gymnastics following the Larry Nassar scandal, as well as more than twenty Roman Catholic dioceses to aid in settling thousands of claims against clergy.
We can only hope that the situation with the BSA isn’t as dire as these other high profile cases; yet, the news continues to trickle out of abuse claims filed and settled against our National Council. The current action affects the National Council, which has borne the liability for the settlements to date.
As Scouters, we can reassure our Scouts and families that Scouting isn’t going under any time soon. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the BSA is that it is decentralized from an organizational standpoint. The two hundred-plus local councils are independent nonprofit organizations chartered (or in essence, franchised) by the National Council. They have their own sources of income, own their own camp properties and operate programs in their local areas. They’re certainly not immune to financial difficulties – councils have gone out of business or merged with other nearby councils for economic reasons unrelated to the abuse lawsuits – but for the most part, your local council is locally funded and managed. Funds raised by local councils – through Family and Community Friends of Scouting, product sales, program fees – stay with the local council to provide Scouting locally. Likewise, your unit is independently owned by your chartered organization, which the BSA effectively franchises but does not include under the financial umbrella of either the local council or the national organization.
It’s also important to realize that the Boy Scouts of America is not the Scouting movement. Scouting existed before the BSA came along, and exists outside the United States in dozens upon dozens of individual national Scouting associations. As Clarke Green reminded us, organizations serve the Scouting movement, but are not Scouting itself. Even if the Boy Scouts of America should fail in its bankruptcy reorganization and cease to exist, the Scouting movement will go on. Baden-Powell’s concepts, brought to life through the works of Green Bar Bill and others, will persevere. The values inherent in the Scout Oath and the Twelve Points will not disappear. It’s up to us to make sure of that, and to reassure our families and Scouts that Scouting will be there for them, no matter what.