Steve Robertson

It saddens me to see the death spiral of the Boy Scouts of America.

Earlier this week, the organization announced it has sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Doing so gives the BSA more time to cope with a slew of lawsuits seeking compensation for alleged sexual abuse.

As a former Boy Scout and Boy Scout leader, I find it hard to understand how an organization that has helped shape the moral values of millions of boys and men has fallen on such hard times.

I loved being a Boy Scout. My Scoutmasters were men of character who taught me to be honest and caring.

I can still recite the Scout oath.

On my honor, I will do my best. To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

And, the Scout Law serves me as well today as it did during the formative years of my childhood.

Other than the 10 Command-ments that my mother drilled into my young mind, the Scout Law continues to serve as my moral compass. I try to always be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Scout leaders taught me how to start a fire using only one match, the proper way to tie a square knot, how to use a compass and how to cook simple meals.

As a Scout leader, I was able to pass many of these skills to boys in Conway Troop 804.

Scouting has changed a lot since I was a boy.

Participation has dropped. The BSA serves more than 2 million young people, according to last year's annual report. After years of declining membership, the organization has moved to become more inclusive, — announcing in 2013 that it would admit openly gay youths and ending a blanket ban on gay leaders in 2015. Earlier this year, the group announced it would admit transgender boys.

Like most Boy Scouts, I was not sexually abused. Unfortunately, not every Scout had that same kind of positive experience.

A lawsuit filed against the BSA in Oregon alleges that 1,247 Boy Scout leaders have been accused of sexual abuse by more than 12,000 victims over seven decades.

BSA president and CEO Roger Mosby said Tuesday, “The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children."

The bankruptcy news isn’t all bad for Scouting.

The local Scout council, which oversees Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in the Pee Dee, operates independently from the national organization and is not involved in bankruptcy proceedings.

Financial support for the council comes from the communities it serves. Please help when asked.

Sadly, I fear the financial decision by the BSA to seek bankruptcy protection might translate into moral bankruptcy for a generation of young people.

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Steve Robertson is owner and publisher of the Waccamaw Publishers family of community newspapers

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