Cub Scout Outdoor Activity Pin Recall
The National Council announced that they are recalling Outdoor Activity Pins that were sold from April 2016 to January 2020.
These pins may be returned to any Scout Shop for exchange or refund.
BSA's Commitment to Act Against Racial Injustice
Dear Scouting family,
As our country reckons with racial injustice, we all must consider our role and our failures and commit to meaningful action.
The twelve points of the Scout Law that define a Scout are all important, but at this moment, we are called on to be brave. Brave means taking action because it is the right thing to do and being an upstander even when it may prompt criticism from some. We realize we have not been as brave as we should have been because, as Scouts, we must always stand for what is right and take action when the situation demands it.
There is no place for racism – not in Scouting and not in our communities. Racism will not be tolerated.
We condemn the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and all those who are not named but are equally important. We hear the anguish, feel the heartbreak and join the country’s resolve to do better.
The Boy Scouts of America stands with Black families and the Black community because we believe that Black Lives Matter. This is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue and one we all have a duty to address. That is why, as an organization, we commit to:
These are our next steps but certainly not our last.
We will also continue to listen more, learn more and do more to promote a culture in which every person feels that they belong, are respected, and are valued in Scouting, in their community, and across America.
As a movement, we are committed to working together with our employees, volunteers, youth members, and communities so we can all become a better version of ourselves and continue to prepare young men and women to become the leaders of character our communities and our country need to heal and grow.
Yours in Scouting,
The Boy Scouts of America National Executive Committee
National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT)
Due to COVID-19, the NYLT course has not reached minimum attendance and staffing requirements. The Council Training committee has made the decision to cancel the training that was scheduled for July 26 to August 1 at Camp Wilderness and will work to offer an excellent course in 2021. Registered participants and staff will receive a refund for fees paid for the 2020 course.
Scouts BSA Intro to Leadership Skills for Troops and Crews
Does your troop teach Leadership Skills or maybe struggle with how to do it? Look no further than the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILTS)! The purpose of the ILST course is to teach Scouts with leadership positions about their new roles and how to most effectively reach success in that role.
Scout Handbooks and Merit Badge Pamphlets Now Available on Kindle
Silver Beaver Recipients Announced
On Saturday, August 15 in Bismarck, ND the Northern Lights Council will recognize and pay tribute to the countless volunteers who make Scouting happen across our territory. The highlight is the presentation of the Silver Beaver Award, the highest award the Council can bestow upon a registered volunteer Scouter in recognition of distinguished service to the Council and its youth.
Mark your calendars and plan on attending! Registration is open now!
Silver Beaver Awards will be presented to the following outstanding volunteers:
04 Lakes District - Michael Denke
05 Northern Sky District - Jefri Jones
08 Lake Agassiz District - Cameron Carlson
10 Roughrider District - Michelle Schock
11 Tomahawk District - Diana Rommel
13 Frontier Trails District - Gordon Herman
Important Message from the Scout Executive
Dear Scouting Community,
Today, 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 want to highlight important points that are most relevant to the Northern Lights Council:
While we do not anticipate the national organization’s bankruptcy filing will have any direct impact on the local Scouting experience or your involvement with our Council, I understand you may still have questions about these issues and things you will see in the news. To that end, the national organization has established a dedicated restructuring website, www.BSArestructuring.org.
This site includes a helpful Resources page, where you will find a short video explaining what Chapter 11 means for Scouting, as well as a FAQ. The site’s Milestones page will be your best source for the latest updates throughout this process.
If you have any questions about local Scouting, you can always feel free to reach out directly to me or your usual contact within our Council.
Through your engagement and dedication to Scouting, the Northern Lights Council will continue to bring adventures, values and lifelong benefits to youth and our communities for generations to come. Thank you for your trust and support as we continue this important mission.
Yours in Scouting,
Rich McCartney, Scout Executive
BSA Has Filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Here’s What That Means for You
You can expect to continue your Scouting experience and the many adventures that fill your schedules.
Shop on Amazon Smile & Support the Northern Lights Council
Smile.amazon.com is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.
Designate the Northern Lights Council as your charity, and your purchase will help the council with no cost to you!
Membership Fee Increase in 2020
A message from the Northern Lights Council Scout Executive, Rich McCartney:
To all Council Members,
We received written confirmation today that the National Executive Board voted for an increase of $6 for all annual membership fees at the recent National Annual Business meeting in May. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has worked to keep the membership fee as low as possible. Unfortunately, operating costs have continued to rise and COVID-19 has compounded the need to increase the fee to maintain the program. To ensure they have the resources to fulfill the promise of Scouting, the updated national membership fees are:
The membership fees will take effect August 1, 2020, for new members in the 2020-2021 program year. For renewing members, the new fee will take effect on October 1, 2020. The updated unit charter fee will take effect August 1, 2020, for all new and rechartering units.
Starting August 1, 2020, there will also be a one-time $25 joining fee for new program participants in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts; however, there is no joining fee for Exploring participants, participants previously registered in any BSA program, those transferring from one program to another, council-paid memberships, or adult volunteers.
We wanted to get this information out to everyone as quickly as possible to allow for proper budgeting and planning for fall recruitment.
As always, the Northern Lights Council will assist those in need with paying the registration fees. We won't turn away any youth that wants to participate in Scouting.
Rechecks of Criminal Backgrounds Explained
From Bryan on Scouting - October 14, 2019
You might have seen an email announcing that the Boy Scouts of America will be performing periodic rechecks of criminal backgrounds of all volunteers.
Without dedicated volunteers, Scouting wouldn’t be the great, life-changing program it is today. You help make Scouting happen. You can also help make Scouting a safe place for our Scouts.
The BSA is committed to youth safety, so before your 2020 annual registration can be processed, you’ve got to review the disclosure documentation and sign a background check authorization as detailed in the email.
To get some additional clarity on the topic, we talked to Steve McGowan, General Counsel for the Boy Scouts of America.
“We recognize this requires some extra steps for all of us who are volunteers, but it’s one more way we are committed to putting youth safety first,” McGowan says.
He also mentioned that the organization had received some questions about this initiative, so he has helped put together this FAQ so volunteers could get answers to their questions.
Scoutbook should be your go-to app for your next den meeting
Give it a Test Run
If you’re a den leader, you’re going to love the latest update to Scoutbook! The Boy Scouts of America’s online tool for tracking Scouting advancement just rolled out a new update that’s going to make it easier than ever for den leaders to prepare for, and lead meetings, track advancement and attendance, and more.
“We want to help all den leaders — both new, and experienced — feel equipped to run awesome den meetings that the kids enjoy and that parents consider to be a valuable use of their family’s time,” says Ryan Hill, the BSA’s national director of Digital Strategy.
Rather than having to juggle leader books and other resources, den leaders will be able to do everything they need from within the app — from organizing meetings for the year to preparing for their next meeting to tracking attendance and advancement. They will even be able to communicate with parents of absent Scouts about what their kids need to do at home to get caught up.
Also new in Scoutbook for den leaders, now the Cub Scout required adventures for each rank have been thoughtfully organized into roughly 12 meetings, making planning out meetings for the year simpler than ever.
“If you attend these required meetings, and your den leader simply keeps attendance in the app, then you have earned your advancement and you’ve also received the full value that we’ve always designed for you to get out of Scouting,” Hill says.
These changes are designed to help streamline and simplify work for leaders, so they can be more prepared for their Scouting adventures. It’s the same great program, just made easier.
“We know how busy families today can be, and that your time is valuable,” Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh says. “You want more time for you and your Scouts to explore, have fun and create positive life-changing memories in the Scouting program. The Scoutbook app helps accomplish that.”
These exciting new improvements to Scoutbook are specific to the Cub Scout den leader experience at this time, but it’s only a matter of time before leaders of other Scouting programs will see upgrades to their Scoutbook experience too.
“We’ve spent a lot of time interviewing den leaders, parents and Scouts from around the country,” Hill says. “We’ve received a lot of really great ideas we’re excited to roll out in future phases to bring new levels of fun and simplicity to everyone in Scouting.”
Log on to Scoutbook to make sure your unit is ready to adopt these updates this fall.
Give it a Test Run
The BETA version is available now - click here to access if you are a registered den leader or click here to access if you are not a den leader (above the username there are three profiles you can use to access the content).
Addressing Media Reports About Abuse in Scouting
August 14, 2019
This article was contributed by Michael Johnson, BSA National Youth Protection Director.
Recent media reports have highlighted claims of abuse against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). As Director of Youth Protection here at the BSA, I share the same concerns as anyone seeing these stories, and I have the utmost respect for the courage demonstrated by these men coming forward. These claims understandably raise questions about what we do to keep kids safe in Scouting today, and I’d like to take the time to address those questions.
Sadly, there have been times when individuals targeted youth in our organization and took advantage of our programs in order to harm children. This infuriates me and our entire organization. We are heartbroken for victims and apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support survivors, and we encourage them to come forward.
In my 24 years investigating child abuse cases as a police detective, I spoke with hundreds of victims and spent decades interrogating predators and sending them to prison. I know what we as an organization and as a society are up against.
I understand the scars victims carry throughout their lives and have seen firsthand the impact on families. Victims and survivors must be believed and supported unconditionally. Protecting children is a duty we all share.
The BSA understood this when it took the step of creating a full-time National Director of Youth Protection position in 2010, which is dedicated exclusively to working to keep kids safe from predators in Scouting programs. Contrary to many inaccurate reports, our youth protection policies are in line with – and sometimes even ahead of – society’s knowledge of abuse and best practices for preventing abuse. We actively share and continually improve these policies through our mandatory youth protection training, our ongoing collaborations with groups such as the Centers for Disease Control and youth-serving organizations, and continuous engagement with survivors of abuse and top experts in this area. We also make our training and policies available free to the public.
Our efforts began in the 1920s with what we now call the Volunteer Screening Database (VSD), formerly known as the Ineligible Volunteer Files. This system has been the subject of much misinformation, but it was established at a time when there were virtually no resources or tools for protecting youth. It was intended as a screening mechanism to prevent individuals accused of abuse or inappropriate conduct from joining or rejoining our programs. Today, experts agree that maintaining such a database is one of the most effective ways to prevent predators from having access to children.
While local chartered organizations and parents are responsible for selecting their unit leaders, the national organization mandates criminal background checks as part of that selection process. It is worth noting, however, that background checks alone are not sufficient, as experts have found a significant amount of abuse goes unreported. This is why we will continue to push for the creation of a national database to serve as a clearing house for all youth-serving organizations and go beyond existing criminal databases. We believe all organizations such as ours should identify, document and report adults who have harmed children or have been suspected of harming children and report this information into a national registry so that these individuals cannot move from one organization to another, regardless of whether authorities pursue criminal charges.
In addition to mandating that volunteers complete comprehensive, research-based and expert-informed youth protection training, we also require adherence to youth protection policies including “two-deep leadership,” which prevents one-on-one interactions between adults and children – both in person and via digital channels. Additionally, even when not required by state or local law, we mandate all volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegation to law enforcement. We require this in every Scouting program across the country despite the fact some states have exceptions to the mandated reporting of child abuse. The child safety policies and procedures we utilize are among the most advanced and comprehensive of any youth-serving organization today.
It is a tragedy and a national epidemic that out of the general U.S. population, one in six boys and one in four girls experience sexual abuse or assault by the time they turn 18. This is an unacceptable public health and safety problem that must be addressed. I’m proud that our organization has long sought to be a part of a collective solution to confront this epidemic and work toward a holistic solution, and we will continue to do so.
I can’t say that I, or the BSA, have all the answers; nor will there ever be a simple solution, but I can say we are working with key stakeholders to identify solutions. Our organization has always sought to protect youth, both in and out of Scouting. If there’s one thing that we have learned, it’s that keeping children safe requires a commitment by experts, government officials, organizations, families and survivors across the country to work together to end the national crisis of child abuse and exploitation.
If you have been a victim of abuse or have any information about suspected abuse, please reach out to our 24/7 Scouts First Hotline at 1-844-Scouts1 for immediate assistance. For more on what the BSA is doing to keep kids safe, please visit: https://www.scouting.org/training/youth-protection/.
Michael Johnson is the National Youth Protection Director for the Boy Scouts of America. He is an internationally recognized expert on child abuse prevention and investigation, and for 24 years of his 28-year law enforcement career he served as a Detective and the Lead Child Abuse Investigator in the Criminal Investigation division of the Plano Police Department outside of Dallas, Texas. He has conducted more than 350 trainings for child abuse prevention professionals in 47 states and internationally.