NORTH WEBSTER — The national organization of the Boy Scouts of America has experienced some brutal challenges as of late, including a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and sexual abuse lawsuits and adverse judgements.
Local troops and packs in Kosciusko County, however, have remained largely unaffected by the controversy.
The Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs in The Mail-Journal readership area are part of the Lincolnway District, which consists of local entities in Kosciusko and Whitley counties.
The district is one of five comprising the Fort Wayne-based Anthony Wayne Area Council, which oversees 11 counties in the northeast corner of Indiana.
“We just had our monthly district meeting and we discussed these matters,” said Scott Fox, Scoutmaster of Troop 726B North Webster, which currently boasts a membership of 29 Boy Scouts.
The national organization is requesting councils to join the bankruptcy to protect their property and other assets, but “no one in the Anthony Wayne Council is joining into the national bankruptcy proceedings,” he said.
The council owns the building it uses for its headquarters and a 1,200-acre camp in Steuben County.
As for sex abuse allegations, Fox, who has been involved in Scout leadership for 19 years, noted, “Our council might have one possible claim, but we are not even sure whether the offender was a registered leader at the time.”
The North Webster troops — Boy Scout troops 726B and 726G for boys and girls respectively and Cub Scout Pack 3726 — are chartered by the local Lions Club, which “approves all leadership and provides space for meetings,” according to Fox.
“The packs and troops cannot own anything,” he said, citing the bus they use for outings is owned by North Webster United Methodist Church. “They own it but we maintain it.”
Fox said his troop’s membership has held steady “within three or four scouts” for the last eight years.
His assessment of the local impact of the national organization’s woes: “No one is going to see differences on the local level in attendance, activities or fundraisers.”
Annual national dues recently spiked from $36 to $60 per scout to accommodate the rise in liability insurance premiums, which quadrupled this year. But the North Webster troops charge only $45 of the registration fee and subsidize the remainder.
“Financially, we are self-contained,” said Fox. “All of our money is raised locally. We send in our one-year registration fee to the Boy Scouts of America, and all other money raised stays with the council or with our local organizations.” Individual accounts are kept for each Scout who raises funds.
Cub Scout Pack 3726 runs two fundraisers a year, a popcorn sale held August through October and a cake auction, which this year will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 12, in the cafeteria of North Webster Elementary School.
The Boy Scout troops conduct three annual fundraisers. The popcorn sale is the only one sponsored by the Anthony Wayne Area Council.
The present fundraiser, which continues through Tuesday, March 10, consists of the sale of frozen pies and Rise’n Roll donuts and sweet rolls. Orders must be made and paid for by March 10 and the product will be delivered by the Scouts Saturday, March 28.
To place an order, call Fox at (574) 527-1645.
The Boy Scouts also operate the dunk tank for the four days of the Mermaid Festival, which this year is scheduled for Wednesday through Saturday, June 24-27. Troop 726 also helps run a haunted house in October.
The local organization also maintains a coed Venture Crew for youths 14 to 21 years old.
Youths can join the organization any time of the year. The troops meet from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays year-round at North Webster United Methodist Church, 7822 E. Epworth Forest Road.