By now you have may have read or heard about the recent Wall Street Journal article speculating on the Boy Scouts of America’s finances. According to the report, the BSA has hired a high-powered legal team to look into the possibility of declaring bankruptcy to weather some financial storms, including some big-dollar lawsuits dating back to the 1970s.
The BSA – the national organization itself – has an obligation to its members to remain strong. As such they are exploring all options for best management of their assets. Sometimes this involves contacting outside experts. No decision has been made or is imminent at this point about BSA’s national finances.
As expected, speculation has been running rampant following the report. As the president of the board of the Iroquois Trail Council (which serves the scouts of eastern Niagara, Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties) I’ve been asked quite a few times about what bankruptcy and financial reorganization of the BSA would mean for local scouts, our neighborhoods, and our business partners.
The simple answer: There will be little to no impact locally.
The Iroquois Trail Council is a corporation separate from the BSA and maintains its own 501(c)3 status. Business decisions made on this or any issue by the BSA will not impact the assets of the Iroquois Trail Council – including our camps and donations made to our local program by families, donors, and community partners like the United Way.
It is important to note that the Iroquois Trail Council is governed by local volunteers who provide strong oversight on budget development, fundraising, spending, and investment. During the past decade, our Council has routinely balanced its budget, been creative with our staffing model, made substantial capital improvements to Council-owned facilities, and ensured the future of local Scouting through growth in our Council’s endowment fund. The Iroquois Trail Council is also debt-free and has no pending litigation. This diligent governance from our volunteers -- and our very small year-round paid staff – ensures we have a well-run and financially viable organization.
Our Council has much to be grateful for this year. Through the continued support of our generous volunteers’ time and financial resources, as well as donations from supporters across the region, we are able to provide a high-quality Scouting program to nearly 2,500 scouts in our spacious 5-county area. We had an outstanding summer camp season and tremendous enthusiasm for the launch of Family Scouting. Also, our packs and troops have been ubiquitous in their hometowns, aiding our towns, villages, and cities with food drives and other impactful service projects.
We cannot and will not let any potential financial restructuring by the national organization distract us from our goals of preparing youth – our future -- for a lifetime of leadership, positive character, and community service.
They are worthy goals, for sure. I often tell people who are dismissive of today’s younger generations to spend time with some cub scouts and boy scouts. They’ll admire who these young people are and who they will become. Tomorrow will be in great hands when these children and teens grow up to lead our communities, schools, businesses, and governments.
Scouting is just as meaningful now as it was when the BSA was founded 108 years ago. It will continue to be for many, many decades more -- even amidst the occasional storm that might shake its very foundation.
From the 24 December 2018 Greater Niagara Newspapers and Batavia Daily News