When we talk about how Scouting “creates life-changing experiences,” it’s often not just about changing the lives of our Scouts, but the people and communities they serve.
Case in point: I read a great story about Troop 25 in Madison, New Jersey and how their recent trip to the Philmont Scout Reservation in Cimarron, New Mexico gave them a new perspective on the importance of “going green.”
They saw natural rock formations and wild animals. They rafted the Arkansas River and hiked the top of Baldy Mountain, more than 12,000 feet above sea level. They carried their own trash to designated drop-offs to keep trails clean.
One of the Scouts on this trip summed the experience up nicely: “I never truly realized the importance of protecting our environment and the beauty of nature until this unforgettable trip.”
Members of Madison Boy Scout Troop 25 work on trail conservation during a trip to the Philmont Scout Reservation last summer // Photo courtesy of the Madison Eagle
In Scouting, one of our priorities is to reach out to young people in all neighborhoods so all kids – no matter their origin or circumstances can experience the life changing adventures, lessons, and friendships that Scouting has to offer. We know we haven’t reached everyone. But we do know from research by Baylor University that those we have reached who earn the top rank of our program – Eagle Scout – have a stronger sense of community spirit, dedication to family, and ability to lead, among other positive traits.
That’s why coverage of a recent study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation caught my attention. The study’s findings suggest that in every region of America, white and Asian children are far better positioned for success than African-American, Latino, and American Indian children.
The attention on this topic reminds us that in communities across America, we all have work to do. In each community, we can do a better job of reaching youth from all cultures so they can experience all that Scouting has to offer. We must remain diligent in that mission.
I’m encouraged by recent efforts to reach kids in underserved areas. For example, our Blue Ridge Mountain Council’s “Soccer and Scouting” program, an initiative designed to attract more Hispanic youth in Roanoke, VA, to Scouting, leverages a sport popular in Spanish-speaking countries. And in Buffalo, NY, our Greater Niagara Council is bridging the gap to African-American young men in its inner city neighborhoods through an urban camping program. Read more
It’s important to the sustainability of Scouting to continue to build membership from the youngest members of our organization, our Cub Scouts. It’s exciting to watch parent volunteers also take part in Scouting for the first time and work with these young boys as they progress along the Scouting trail to hopefully earn their Eagle badge someday.
Along the way, they share the excitement of their Scouting experiences with classmates and other peer groups, helping us to deliver a quality experience with even more young people across the nation. That’s how we grow.
To illustrate the importance of bringing Scouts along at a young age and how much they can learn and do in a short period of time, I’d like to share this letter to the editor from a Cub Scout representing his pack in Topeka, Kansas:
Letter: Join the Boy Scouts
We are scouts from Den 1 Pack 246 out of Most Pure Heart of Mary. We are writing to encourage people to join scouting. Scouting has been alive for 104 years. Our pack has dwindled in size, and we want more boys to join and share in our fun.
Scouting is an opportunity to try new activities and sports. Two of our favorite activities are learning to safely shoot and handle a BB gun and a bow and arrow. We enjoy earning our belt loops and patches as rewards for successfully completing the requirements. Read more