Why I’m Proud of How Scouting is Changing

We’ve had many changes in Scouting in the last few years, and as I look back at the time and think about the hundreds of interviews that I’ve done with our member-customers this year, I want to share a few reasons that I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished as an organization. I’m now 4 years from my first day as a Lion Cub parent, and I’m increasingly confident that the Scouting that I will share with my girl will be better than the Scouting that my parents shared with me.

I am exceedingly proud of the bold steps that our we have taken to keep our kids safe. If you haven’t met my wife, Sarah, her work is that she’s part of the oversight of LA-DCFS’s child welfare system. She is inundated daily with reports of child abuse, neglect, and, lately, increasing cases of child fatalities in the foster system. As we swap stories about the County’s struggle to keep kids safe and the Council’s struggle to get parents to take YPT training, Sarah is increasingly frustrated with scout parents who don’t go to training, “I would not let my child participate in Scouting without the youth protection policy. I will not send my child to any activity with an [even one] untrained leader.” As a child advocate in the County, she sees daily the consequences to kids who are not protected by Scouting’s youth protection principles. It’s scary.

Do you remember how Tom Hartman has been leaning on enforcement of our training mandates for several years now? While Pat Moss tells me every time we talk of the pushback he gets from adult volunteers who can’t spare the time to become trained, I’m cheering him on: he’s leading the most highly training-compliant large council in the Western Region. It was read into the record of the 104th congress that “A boy is safer in boy scout camp than he is in his own home.” I am excited by the success of Pat and the training committee in creating Scouting’s safe haven.

I’m truly excited about how our council has managed to operate 5 outstanding camping properties through a period of history in which many councils are leaving the camping business. Darin Sorrels invited me to come visit Cub day camp at Trask. I was at home that week on daddy duty, and I figured, this kid loves dirt, Trask is full of dirt, why not?! I had no sooner unstrapped that child from her car seat before she figured out that that funny sound was the creek, and she had found her way into it. It took me half an hour to convince her to get out.

Scouting is in an absolutely unique position to enable me to put my child in the creek and to know that she’s going to be safe when I do. If it weren’t for the hard work, every day, of John Johnson, Mike Cavalero, our outstanding camp staff, and our camping department, Paloma would have not had that experience: camps are expensive and difficult to maintain. Many times, I’ve seen John, Mike, Wes and every member of our camping committee walk out of their offices to float over to CCV or drive up to HESR with a chain saw and a hammer. That’s what it takes, and it’s the personal discipline of every one of our camping volunteers.

You certainly know by now that we’re all going to make a $50 contribution to the health of our council in 2020. I’m proud that, although we implemented it quickly, we asked for input from as many stakeholders as possible, including all of our district key 3 members. Tim says, “No scout will be denied our program.” While I brought that point out frequently, I learned that it was ultimately unnecessary: in our council’s board room, this goes without saying.

A major portion of my scouting time is invested in fundraising. The team and I have been successful in securing large gifts for focused, capital campaigns, like building in the camps. We are having increasing challenges in fundraising for operations, like staff salaries and outreach. One of the first roadblocks we hit is that large donors see that 95% of our families do not contribute to the council budget. This closes doors to us, and it’s frustrating. The program charge will cause 100% of our families to contribute: give us the first $50, and we’ll find the other $400. I’m excited to fundraise on your behalf with this new leverage. I think it’s going to enable me, Tim, Kelli, Victor, and Tom to fund the level of staffing that you deserve and the level of outreach that we want for our Greater Los Angeles community.

Thank you, as always, for the love and enthusiasm that you invest in Scouting and in our kids.


Travis J. Williams, Ph.D.
Future Scout Parent