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Taking Scouting to the Inner City

When we speak of Scouting’s commitment to teaching our young people about the outdoors, it often brings visions of rolling streams, forests and mountain ranges.

For our young people of the inner city, it’s often a different picture and landscape, but Scouting’s lessons and values are still there.  They learn what it’s like to work as a team, how to be good leaders, why service to their community is important and how to have fun while experiencing outdoor adventures!

I recently read an article about an inner city Scouting program in Buffalo, NY that’s showing great results.

Scouts learn archery skills at the fourth annual Buffalo District Camporee at St. Martin De Porres Church in Buffalo, NY // Photo courtesy of Buffalo News

Instead of a Scout reservation tucked away in the woods, neighborhood boys gather to pitch tents and build campfires in an open field adjacent to a church on Buffalo’s East Side.

But any differences from a traditional camporee ended there. Their busy week-end lineup included lessons in archery, air rifle, and hatchet throwing, as well as demonstrations involving fire trucks and a bomb squad. Scouts earned merit badges, and enjoyed a lunch provided by event sponsors.

Leona Harper, Committee Chair for Troop 139, summed up the value of their program very well, saying: “…a lot of the boys, they’ve never seen or gone camping, they’ve never experienced archery, slingshot. They haven’t experienced the outdoor life. So we’ve brought the outdoor camping experience in the middle of the city.”

Bravo, Leona!  My congratulations go out to Troop 139 Scoutmaster James Morrell and Scout Executive Russell Etzenhouser for the Greater Niagara Frontier Council for putting together and supporting a great urban Scouting program.

We need more of these inner city initiatives to make sure as many of our young people as possible get the chance to give Scouting a try. Many of these neighborhoods lack the leadership and resources to support Scouting programs and, as a result, many of America’s youth are missing out on the benefits of a quality Scouting experience. The strength of their communities depends on our ability to help expand Scouting to underserved neighborhoods and provide them their next generation of great leaders.

How do you work with inner city youth to teach them the values of the great outdoors – whether it’s in the confines of brick and asphalt, or out in the open country?  Share your ideas here!

Yours in Scouting,

Wayne

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