Text of Letter from Craig Poland, National Capital Area Council
June 26, 2019
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA NATIONAL CAPITAL AREA COUNCIL
Marriott Scout Service Center
9190 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20814
June 7, 2019
Dear Scouts and Scouters,
I am sure that you have seen some of the recent coverage in the media about the Boy Scouts of America. I wanted to take a moment and give you an update from our council. The fact is the Boy Scouts of America remains one of the safest youth-serving organizations in the country, and I am writing to make sure you are aware of all the things we do to keep Scouts safe.
The headlines are mostly about historic, decades-old allegations of abuse, and a Volunteer Screening Database created to keep Scouts safe by disqualifying volunteers that would be unfit leaders. The purpose of the Volunteer Screening Database is to ensure that anyone seen as unfit to be a leader – even those not charged or convicted of any crime – would be banned from the Scouting program. Violations include everything from breaches of our Youth Protection policies to legal convictions and everything in between. Every instance of suspected abuse we learn of is reported to law enforcement.
Our Council joins BSA in extending our sympathy to all victims of abuse and ensuring they receive the support they need. The Boy Scouts of America continually evaluates and improves our Youth Protection policies. These include two-deep adult leadership (which prevents one-on-one contact), criminal background checks on volunteers, mandatory reporting policies, and mandatory youth protection training for all volunteer leaders. These practices meet or exceed the standards of other youth-serving organizations and continue to evolve. We have recently introduced additional training for youth members to help them identify problems, make reports, and avoid bullying or inappropriate behavior between youth members. The adult leader youth protection training course is available for free online or in person. If you have not seen the updated course released earlier this year, I invite you to view it at my.Scouting.org so you will have a better understanding of what your unit’s leaders are doing to keep Scouts safe.
Additionally, you may have seen coverage about the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America evaluating options, including a Chapter II financial restructuring. Such an action would allow BSA to meet the needs of victims of abuse, while continuing to support local councils in their mission of developing young leaders. No decision has been made as of this time.
It is important to understand that National Capital Area Council is a separate 501 (c)(3) incorporated in Washington, D.C. Our camps, our Scout Service Center, and our finances are owned and controlled locally. Our Council receives no funding from the National organization and we operate as a financially separate not-for-profit organization.
Our Council is strong, in fact National Capital Area Council is among the strongest Councils in the nation in terms of fiscal health, program quality, volunteer commitment, camp properties, and staff performance. This is made possible through your continued support. All donations made to National Capital Area Council stay local. Funds contributed through Friends of Scouting donations, special events, popcorn or camp card sales are used to support Scouting in National Capital Area Council.
Our Council’s primary focus is keeping youth safe while providing high-quality leadership programs for over 57,000 Scouts in the neighborhoods we serve. Thankfully this national challenge does not directly affect our local Scouting programs. Your Packs, Troops, Crews, Ships, and Posts will continue offering strong programs and unique character development opportunities. Our staff and volunteer team will continue to provide the best support to you that we possibly can.
We appreciate the opportunity to share the facts of this matter and ask that you have confidence and share the impact Scouting has in our community, and confidence that Scouting is one of the safest youth-serving organizations in the country. Our Scouting parents and volunteers are an essential part of our ability to provide programing [sic] to our Scouts. We truly value you as a partner in Scouting and we will continue to keep you informed. If you have any questions it would be helpful for me to address please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for all you are doing to help us develop the future leaders of America.
Yours in Scouting,
Scout Executive & CEO
National Capital Area Council, BSA