• 73°

Column: Local Boy Scouts remain strong, focused on mission

On Tuesday, the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to achieve two key objectives: equitably compensate victims who were harmed during their time in Scouting and continue to carry out Scouting’s mission for years to come.

I wanted to highlight important points that are most relevant to the Black Warrior Council that covers Scouting in West Central Alabama.

First, the Black Warrior Council has not filed for bankruptcy. Our Council is legally separate, distinct and financially independent from the national organization. There are no abuse claims in the Black Warrior Council, and we remain fiscally sound.

Secondly, Scouting programs will continue. This means that unit meetings and activities, district and council events, other Scouting adventures and countless service projects will take place as usual. In short, we expect no changes to the local Scouting experience in West Central Alabama.

In 2019 the Black Warrior Council achieved growth in membership, program attendance and fundraising. We are now over 3,300 youth strong with more than 600 dedicated volunteer leaders. Last year our volunteers provided over 140,000 hours of service mentoring youth. Momentum is building for Scouting in West Central Alabama. We remain strong because of our dedicated volunteers, energized scouting families, engaged board and generous community support.

Scouting is safer now than ever before. Over many years, we’ve developed some of the strongest expert-informed youth protection policies found in any youth-serving organization. I can also assure you that our volunteers and employees take youth protection extremely seriously and do their part to help keep kids safe.

One hundred percent of donor funds stays locally, in the Black Warrior Council.

To help answer question about the restructuring plan, the national organization has established a dedicated restructuring website, www.BSArestructuring.org.

The Black Warrior Council, BSA will continue to serve our scouting families and the communities of West Alabama.  I believe our mission remains important: to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

West Central Alabama Scouting is a great option for families seeking to help their kids experience great programs in a safe environment. Statistics show that youth in scouting are more likely to graduate from high school, give back to their communities when they reach adulthood and be active in their church as an adult. They are more likely to take on leadership roles in high school and college. They have a more positive outlook on life. Many will learn a skill in scouting that will become a career for them later in life. Scouting works.

— Bill Gosselin is the Executive Director of the Black Warrior Council, BSA, serving Tuscaloosa, Bibb, Pickens, Hale, Greene, Sumter, Marengo, Winston, Walker, Fayette, Lamar and Marion counties.

(This column originally appeared in the Wednesday, March 4 issue of the Demopolis Times.)