Recently, I shared my thoughts on how to grow Scouting in America and make the program accessible to all youth. One way to do so is to strengthen Scouting’s connection to diverse cultures and communities. To underscore the importance of this initiative, the BSA appointed our first ever Chief Diversity Officer, Ponce Durán.
Formerly, as director for the Southern Region, Ponce led diversity efforts, and he developed programs such as Jalando Parejo (or Pulling Together) to start Scouting units in low income communities and programs that provide mentors to at-risk youth. He also played a role in recruiting more than 500 diverse district committee and council board members to the Southern Region.
I am very much looking forward to watching Ponce work to expand the BSA’s engagement to multicultural communities nationwide. And today, I invited him to Chief’s Corner to share his thoughts on engaging diverse youth:
Our motto, “Prepared. For. Life,” or en Español, “Preparados para el futuro” guides the BSA.
What I love about the Spanish translation is that the motto is more than a promise to our youth to prepare them for life; it is about preparing youth for the road ahead. As an organization, we must prepare for the future by growing the Boy Scouts of America and introducing diverse youth to Scouting.
Diversity is not a new endeavor for our movement. Throughout our history, Scouts of different ethnicities, faiths and backgrounds have come together to experience the adventures of Scouting. As Chief Diversity Officer, I hope to expand our diversity initiatives nationwide and further our commitment to giving kids fun experiences and instilling values and character that last a lifetime.
As I recently discussed with Telemundo KXTX , my goal is to encourage more boys, especially those with diverse backgrounds, to experience the positive character-development and values-based leadership training available through the Boy Scouts of America programs.
One example of how the Scouting adapts to local communities and the youth we serve is with a Spanish-language troop in the Circle Ten Council. Troop leader José Villarreal told Telemundo he has watched the Scouts in his troop make positive changes, particularly in their behavior and academic performance.
Angel Rojas from the Circle Ten Council explained further, “Nos enseñan cómo podemos ayudar a la comunidad,” or, “They teach us how we can help the community.”
In order to serve the growing multicultural population, we must first recruit staff and volunteers that reflect the diverse cultures we wish to serve. José’s troop was started by Rudy Gonzalez, a diverse professional that understood the needs of his market. Diverse talent in our organization will help us identify communities where we can grow and serve as role models for the youth we want to introduce to Scouting.
We must also introduce parents to Scouting and show how it teaches leadership skills, ethical values and character, citizenship and responsibility. The BSA currently offers resources for diverse markets, including material in Spanish, to help reach youth of all backgrounds, but I’d love to know more about the ways your councils are reaching youth in your area.
It is always great to hear stories of how Scouting reaches youth. I look forward to seeing the evolution of our diversity initiatives, and I appreciate having Ponce as a partner in growing the Boy Scouts of America.
Yours in Scouting,