This is a guest article from Boy Scouts of America Youth Protection Executive Glen Pounder.

While criminal background and reference checks can be valuable tools in helping to prevent abuse, no organization should ever rely on them alone. Youth-serving organizations, schools, sporting organizations, houses of worship – every institution where adults interact with kids – must remain vigilant and bolster the use of criminal background and reference checks along with a set of policies, awareness, training, and implementation measures that are always applied.   

“Stranger Danger” can be very real, and criminal background and reference checks can provide a line of defense against the type of people with known issues and criminal intent who would attempt to infiltrate youth-serving organizations with the aim of accessing, befriending, grooming, and sexually abusing children. However, most people who sexually abuse children are not strangers but are already known to their victim(s), and many of them may have no prior criminal background.  

Consider Jerry Sandusky, a well-known example of a person who used his position and reputation to manipulate the trust of those around him so he could abuse children.  

Someone who “knew” Sandusky (of course, before his crimes came to light), said this about him: 

“It’s like he was put on this earth to work with kids. I don’t know if I have ever met another man that was as caring and as compassionate with children as he is.” 

They thought they knew him and that he was a “great guy.”   

Those who commit the difficult-to-contemplate crime of sexual exploitation or abuse of a child are often referred to as “monsters” or “predators.” Unfortunately, those types of labels can make it seem impossible that such a person could be someone you already know, someone you like, someone you trust.  

They may be in a position of power and authority, as Sandusky was. They might be someone who appears to be a “great guy,” an adult who is known and trusted. But the reality is that these criminals – men and women – are master manipulators (of adults and children). They will look to exploit blind spots, which means any youth-serving organization must work constantly to stay vigilant.   

To be clear, this is not about being mistrustful of people we know and like, it’s more about active awareness. If anyone starts to think, “We’re okay because this is a small community where we know everyone, so that helps reduce risk,” that is exactly the type of blind spot these individuals are looking to exploit.  

People think they’ve built a relationship with an adult they know – an adult they feel they can trust, an adult who they think would never hurt a child – and that type of trust is exactly what a criminal wants. Active awareness, regardless of the size or close-knit nature of your community, can help be a preventative measure.    

As manipulative as they are, criminals still make mistakes and leave clues. These clues don’t require a Sherlock Homes level of insight; often, if you know what to look for, there are red flags or breadcrumbs being left for anyone to see. Unfortunately, many times, it’s only after a terrible crime comes to light that people reflect on what they saw and heard.  

To be clear, it’s not our job to be detectives or “investigate,” – that’s the role of law enforcement. It is, however, our responsibility to recognize improper or inappropriate behavior and report it 

Reporting inappropriate behavior, innocuous as an incident might seem at the time, can provide a piece of the puzzle that may help reveal an identifiable pattern of behavior.  That may lead to a problematic adult being PREVENTED from working or volunteering with children; not because a crime was committed, but before an offense can take place.  

Youth-serving organizations must build active awareness and reporting of inappropriate behavior into their culture, and they must implement and enforce policies around these disciplines to prevent abuse and other harms.  

Unfortunately, as we’ve discussed here, not everyone who appears to be a “great guy” actually is one, and, when the people in youth-serving organizations know that fact, they clearly understand the “why” behind policies like those in the Boy Scouts of America’s Youth Protection Training 

When everyone understands the “why” of these policies, it helps move the entire organization toward a safer reality of keeping every child in their programs safe from harm.  

Scouting Wire would like to thank Glen Pounder for sharing this article. 

Plan to join the leadership of the BSA at the Scouting Forward:2023 National Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, May 30 – June 1, 2023, as we look to the future of Scouting.  

During the first full face-to-face meeting since 2019, attendees will discuss the key imperatives critical to BSA’s ongoing work on behalf of America’s youth. Please review the NAM Registration Guide belowfor further information.  

REGISTRATION: 

  • To register for the National Annual Meeting please click this link: Registration 
  • To book your hotel reservation please click this link: Hyatt Regency Atlanta (Hyatt Regency Atlanta, 265 Peachtree St. NE)

Find descriptions of all events and elective sessions in the Registration Guide. 

View the promotional video:

2023 BSA NAM Promo 41423 from Boy Scouts of America on Vimeo.

BSA National Colleagues,

We are writing to you today to provide some exciting news about our national organization’s financial restructuring case.

Today, the District Court has ruled to uphold the order confirming the BSA’s Plan of Reorganization, which is poised to establish the largest sexual abuse compensation fund in the history of the United States—currently valued at $2.4 billion, with the opportunity for significant additional contributions from non-settling insurance companies and other parties. 

This ruling brings us one step closer to emergence from bankruptcy. In addition to the approval of Judge Silverstein from the Bankruptcy Court and now Judge Andrews from the District Court, the BSA’s Plan of Reorganization has also won overwhelming support from survivors of past abuse in Scouting, with more than 85% voting to approve it.

What happens next?

Certain parties are likely to appeal this ruling, but we remain hopeful about the likelihood of exiting bankruptcy in the near future. We will continue to keep you apprised of the final steps in the BSA’s emergence process, which could happen within the next month

As it pertains to the national organization’s financial restructuring, we ask that you please refer any media inquiries on this topic to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I have scheduled a townhall tomorrow to go over the details that we know at this time.

Finally, this milestone positions us to achieve the dual imperatives we outlined at the beginning of this process: equitably compensating survivors and ensuring the mission of Scouting benefits youth for generations to come. Thank you for your continued support. Each and every one of you should take pride in knowing that the mission of Scouting will be preserved for future generations.

Yours in Scouting. 

Roger C. Mosby

Chief Scout Executive/President & CEO

Note: This letter was delivered to BSA employees on March 28, 2023.

Plan to join the leadership of the BSA at the 2023 National Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, May 30 – June 1, 2023, as the organization looks to the future of Scouting. 

During the first full face-to-face meeting since 2019, attendees will discuss the key imperatives critical to BSA’a ongoing work on behalf of America’s youth: Establishing a Culture of Safety, Relevant Program, Exceptional Experiences, Financial Stability, and the Revitalization of Our Brand. 

During a packed three-day agenda, attendees will discuss each of these areas and explore how to implement them to prepare the next generation of youth for life. 

Mark your calendars for this landmark event. Your in-person attendance and participation will be critical. 

Hotel, travel, registration, and meeting details will be available soon. 

 

Robert Ridgeway has been selected as the Vice President and General Manager of the Summit Bechtel Reserve, effective October 1, 2022.  

Robert Ridgeway

Rob began his journey with the Summit Bechtel Reserve (SBR) in 2009 as lead consultant for the State of West Virginia search committee. After the site was selected, he transitioned to Trinity Works as Project Manager for the development of the SBR. In October 2013, Rob began his BSA career as the Director of Facilities. In this role, he directed the maintenance and further development of the site along with leading the entire facilities team. In May 2021, he was promoted to Chief of Staff/Director of Facilities and continued to manage the facilities group along with providing leadership to the entire staff and assisting the EVP of High Adventure/GM SBR.  

Rob serves on the Southern West Virginia United Way board and is active with multiple community and civic organizations in Southern West Virginia. He has been married to his wife Cara for 23 years. They are the proud parents of two sons, Hunter and Hayden. Rob enjoys hunting and fishing and is a sports fanatic. 

Pendleton will become Director of the 2023 National Scout Jamboree effective October 10, 2022. 

Tom Pendleton

After serving on summer camp staff, Tom began his career in Scouting in 2002 in the Blue Ridge Mountains Council in Roanoke, VA where he served as a District Executive, Senior District Executive, and Field Director. During this time, he also served as the Reservation Director of the Blue Ridge Scout Reservation, serving close to 10,000 Scouts and Scouters each summer. 

In 2014, Tom was promoted to Director of Camping for the Greater New York Councils in New York City where he served for 5 years. In that role he gave leadership to all Greater New York Councils’ camping operations including the Ten Mile River Scout Camps (Keowa, Aquehonga, Ranachqua), Alpine Scout Camp and Pouch Scout Camp which serve over 70,000 people annually. During his tenure, camping attendance grew by over 20%.

In March 2019, Tom joined the team at the National Council where he has served on the Outdoor Programs and Properties team giving leadership to all Resident and Short-Term Camp National Camping Schools, the National Outdoor Conference and serving as staff adviser and subject matter expert for three national outdoor program subcommittees.   

Tom and his wife Laura have two Eagle Scout sons. As a family they enjoy spending time together outdoors and being on the baseball field whether watching or playing. Tom is an Eagle Scout with three palms, a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, and Wood Badge trained. 

Leslie Thibodeaux has been selected as the General Manager of the Northern Tier High Adventure Base, effective Sept 24, 2022. After many years serving on summer camp staff, Leslie began her Professional Scouting career in 2001 as a District Executive in the Longs Peak Council in Greeley, CO.  She served as District Executive in two rural districts in Wyoming as well as the director of the Council’s Cub Scout resident camp. In 2003, she was promoted to Camping Director, where she managed the Ben Delatour Scout Ranch, eventually becoming the Director of Camps and Operations for the council. In that role, Leslie had responsibility for five camp properties and four council offices.

Leslie Thibodeaux

Thibodeaux’s experience in managing staff and facilities in multiple jurisdictions, as well as her fundraising skills, positioned her for the role of Director of Programs at the Northern Tier High Adventure Base. Leslie has been at Northern Tier since 2012, and during her tenure, the base has seen record attendance and the establishment of dynamic new programs.  

Leslie serves on the executive board for Ely Community Resources, Inc, and is actively involved in many other community organizations. 

Leslie and her husband Cade have been leaders in the local Cub Scout Pack and recently organized a Scouts BSA troop where their daughter Tracy is a Star Scout. As a family, they enjoy paddling, hiking and hunting. Leslie and her family are excited to evolve their roles in the Ely community and take on this new adventure with Northern Tier. 

On Thursday, September 8, 2022, the Boy Scouts of America received confirmation of its Plan of Reorganization from the Bankruptcy Court. This ruling, issued by Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein in Delaware, brings the organization only one step away from emerging from bankruptcy, and from being able to equably compensate survivors while ensuring the mission of Scouting continues. In addition to approval from Judge Silverstein, the BSA’s Plan of Reorganization has also won overwhelming support from survivors of past abuse in Scouting, with more than 85% voting to approve it.

What happens next?

In order to officially emerge from the financial restructuring process, the BSA must receive approval of its Plan of Reorganization from the US District Court. Because certain parties have communicated their intent to appeal the confirmation order, the BSA will next begin a District Court appeal process in order to emerge from Chapter 11, which will allow survivors to be equitably compensated and preserve the mission of Scouting for future generations.

The BSA does not know exactly when emergence will take place, but the organization expects it to be sometime this winter. The BSA will continue to share updates and information as the organization navigates the final stages of this process with the District Court.

The BSA has posted information about this process, including information for the Scouting community, at www.BSArestructuring.org. This site includes a Milestones page, which provides a source for the latest updates as the organization navigates the final steps of this process.

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