Boy Scouts


The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy Tuesday under the weight of hundreds of childhood sexual abuse cases filed against the organization.

Seattle-based attorney Jason Amala, who is handling 75 cases in New York, said the news is a mixed bag for his clients.

Amala said the news that the Boy Scouts of America has filed for bankruptcy is a form of validation for his clients because the declaration means the national organization is admitting that many of the incidents are real.

Karen DeWitt/WXXI News

It was an emotional day Wednesday as hundreds of childhood sexual abuse survivors filed lawsuits in New York courts on the first day of a one-year window of opportunity for victims to seek civil action against their abusers. 

Susanne Robertson and her two sisters were orphans at St. Colman's Home in Watervliet, near Albany, where she said they were routinely abused by the nuns and other staff there. When one of the girls reported the sexual abuse to a nun at the home, she was transferred to an orphanage for mentally disabled children. 

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

This February, Boy Scouts of America made a major change and started allowing girls to join the club. And while some young girls flocked to meetings with dreams of hiking and shooting guns, Girl Scouts of America thinks there is some misinformation about what being a member of their club really means.

Starting in February, the Boy Scouts will welcome older girls into the organization and will drop the word “boy” from its namesake program. Cub Scouts began welcoming girls this past summer. So what do those changes mean for the Girl Scouts?

We hosted a discussion on this subject with representatives from the Boy Scouts in August, and now, we sit down with representatives from the Girl Scouts to hear their reactions.

We discuss the changes, what parents need to know, and what’s new with the Girl Scouts. In studio:

  • Alison Wilcox, COO of Girl Scouts of Western New York
  • Luva Alvarez, parent and volunteer in Troop 60972 of Rochester
  • Emma Nelk, Girl Scout ambassador in Troop 60843 of Pittsford

The Boy Scouts are making some changes to their organization, and the move has led to a debate. Starting in February, the Boy Scouts will welcome older girls and will drop the word “boy” from its namesake program. This summer, the Cub Scouts began welcoming girls. Spokespeople for the organization say the changes are being made to foster more inclusivity; they are part of the new Scout Me In campaign, which welcomes scouts of both genders.

This hour, we discuss the changes, what parents need to know, and what the future of scouting looks like. In studio:

  • Stephen Hoitt, Scout executive and CEO of Seneca Waterways Council, Boy Scouts of America
  • Trisch Axsmith Tavolette, BSA leader and parent of two Scouts
  • Andrew Tavolette, Life Scout
  • Veronica Tavolette, Girl Scout and soon-to-be Cub Scout

Audio Postcard: 21 Stories for Scouts

May 23, 2012

Every year, the Seneca Waterways Council of the Boy Scouts conducts a fundraiser called 21 Stories for Scouts.

 It works like this:  Anyone who raises at least $1,000 for the scouts earns a trip down the side of the First Federal Plaza Building in downtown Rochester -- using a harness and ropes.

WXXI News Director Julie Philipp recently took part in this event and sent an audio postcard.