- [Reporter] This is the 2019 World Scout Jamboree.
The event hosted thousands of young people
from around the world at a scout camp in West Virginia
and was sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America.
But Scouts were meeting during a time of crisis
for the organization.
Total membership for the century-old Boy Scouts of America
was on the decline and one of its largest sponsors
the Mormon Church had announced it would cut ties
with the organization.
Now a slew of lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse
from decades ago, has forced the Boy Scouts
to file for bankruptcy.
Here's how the largest youth organization in the country
filed for bankruptcy.
- So the Scouts were founded in 1910
and they were based on scouting programs
that were already underway in the UK.
They really focused on civic engagement.
They did this through a lot of outdoor programs
and educational programs, really focused on raising
young men to be upright citizens.
- [Reporter] As the organization grew,
so did the programs and opportunities
the Boy Scouts offered.
In 1967, about six million boys were enrolled in Boy Scouts.
- The Boy Scouts essentially became this pillar
of American society and they formed a lot of relationships
with business groups, with civic groups.
A number of well known American citizens joined
including Neil Armstrong, business men like Sam Walton,
founder of Walmart, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft.
They really became this group that drew a lot of men
that would go on to do big things
in the world of politics and business.
- [Reporter] While girls had been accepted
into some scouting programs as early as 1969,
the Boy Scouts prohibited girls and openly gay boys
from joining the main scouting program.
- So when we get to the start of the 21st century,
we started to have a lot of these membership controversies
with the Scouts.
They wanted to be able to dictate
who would be able to come to the Scouts
and who would be able to call themselves a Scout.
- [Reporter] The group successfully defended
its prohibition on gay members
before the US Supreme Court in 2000.
But membership started to decline,
as boys began to look elsewhere
for extra-curricular activities.
- You had more sporting activities.
You also had parents that were more busy.
There was really much more competition for the Boy Scouts
trying to get folks to get involved.
- [Reporter] The Boy Scouts leadership
voted to allow gay youth to become Scouts
in 2013 and to allow gay adults
to serve as volunteers in 2015.
The group voted to allow transgender boys,
then to allow girls in 2017.
Despite opening its membership to more kids,
the Boy Scouts took a major hit at the end of 2019,
when the Mormon Church cut ties with the organization,
effectively withdrawing 400,000 boys from Scouting.
- When the LDS church announced
that they were gonna be ending their partnership
with the Boy Scouts, they didn't explicitly say
that the changes the Scouts were making was the reason why,
but there was some tension there.
There has been a bit of a backlash
from some conservative groups
and there's been some new Scouting programs
that have been started up since that has happened.
- [Reporter] But for the Boy Scouts
a disastrous problem was beginning to bubble to the surface.
Beginning in 2019, more than a dozen states
passed legislation that extended the statute of limitations
for child sexual abuse.
As a result, multiple claims were filed across the country
alleging former Scouts were sexually assaulted
by Scout masters and other volunteers,
mostly in the 1960s and '70s.
Between 2017 and 2019, the Boy Scouts of America
spent more than $150 million on settlements
related to child sexual abuse.
The potential liability from other lawsuits
forced the organization to declare bankruptcy
in February 2020.
- The sex abuse claims, a vast majority of them,
occurred more than 30 years ago.
And the Boy Scouts have said that they've put new
child safety programs in place, make sure kids are safe,
but still it's gonna be tough for them to recruit
at a time when their membership numbers are going down.
So there's still a lot of uncertainty
for the Boy Scouts on the horizon,
you have these declining membership numbers,
you have this bankruptcy that's been looming
and you've had this recent split with the LDS Church.
So it's really unclear
what the future of the Boy Scouts holds.