Despite filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Feb. 18, local councils of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) want the public to know that its activities will continue as usual.
“Scouting programs, including unit meetings and activities, council events, other Scouting adventures and countless service projects, will continue throughout this process and for many years to come,” the organization said in a statement announcing the filing Feb. 18. “The BSA fully intends to maintain its commitments to its members, families, volunteer leaders, employees, retirees, donors and alumni to the fullest extent permitted by bankruptcy laws. The organization also will pay its vendors and partners for all goods and services delivered from today forward.”
In the wake of sexual abuse lawsuits, some dating back 30 years, the national organization filed for protection under Chapter 11, allowing it to reorganize, according to the statement.
The purpose of reorganizing, the organization said, is to establish a compensation fund for victims of sexual abuse while in the program, and to ensure scouting continues “for years to come.”
The Hudson Valley Council, which runs programming for troops in Orange County in New York and Pike County in Pennsylvania, put out information in a post on its Facebook page.
The post said the council was not filing for protection, and would continue to offer its programs including summer and year-round programs at Camp Bullowa and Camp Nooteeming.
In addition, the post makes clear that donations to the local council stay in that council.
A national law firm representing some of the victims as well as victims relating to sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Jeff Anderson & Associates said in a press release that the filing may help BSA hide perpetrators of these alleged crimes from view.
“I don’t believe that this legal maneuver by the Boy Scouts of America will stop survivors from coming forward and shining a light on the perpetrators and perilous practices hidden by the organization,” said Anderson, who has represented Scout abuse survivors for decades, in the release.
Anderson currently represents hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts across the country, including dozens of cases in New York, New Jersey, and California.
“It’s important that survivors know they still have a voice and can still bring a claim for the harm they suffered,” he said. “It’s time for anyone abused as a child in the Scouts to come forward.”
Anticipating a financial hit
According to the organization, the Boy Scouts of America started in 1910 as a youth character development and leadership training for young boys, and currently serves almost 2.2 million youth members between ages 5-21 with some 800,000 volunteers in the local councils.
While the national organization is anticipating a financial hit for claims, BSA wants the public to know that council organizations that operate local programs are separate and financially independent, and will continue to function during the bankruptcy process.
“The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children,” Roger Mosby, president and chief executive officer said in the statement. “While we know nothing can undo the tragic abuse that victims suffered, we believe the Chapter 11 process – with the proposed Trust structure – will provide equitable compensation to all victims while maintaining the BSA’s important mission.”
The Northern New Jersey Council, BSA, issued a statement of its own, letting member troops know that it will continue its programming.
“While we do not anticipate the national organization’s bankruptcy filing will have any direct impact on the local Scouting experience or your involvement with our council, we understand you may still have questions about these issues and things you will see in the news,” the council’s statement said. “To that end, the national organization has established a dedicated restructuring website, BSArestructuring.org.”
In the statement, the council said it did not file for bankruptcy, that scouting activities will continue, scouting is safer now than ever before, and that donations that are restricted to local use will only go to that purpose.
“Through your engagement and dedication to Scouting, the Northern New Jersey Council will continue to bring adventures, values and lifelong benefits to youth and our communities for generations to come,” the statement said. “Thank you for your trust and support as we continue this important mission.”
The Patriots Path Council in Sussex County, New Jersey sent out a notification to parents and others associated with its programs that things are continuing as normal.
"What happened on the national level does not impact us," Patriots Path Executive Marc Andreo said. "Things continue as normal, meetings, camp outs and service projects."
“The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children." - Roger Mosby, president and chief executive officer BSA