Article submitted by Carlos Cortez, Scout Executive of Los Padres Council, and Juan Osorio, Scout Executive of Chattahoochee Council.
In 1968, Hispanic Heritage started as a weeklong recognition of the contributions made to the United States by members of the Hispanic/LatinX community. In 1988 Hispanic Heritage Month was expanded to cover 30 days, September 15 to October 15.
This year’s theme is “Be Proud of Your Past, Embrace the Future.” It invites members of the Hispanic/LatinX community to embrace their backgrounds, to be proud of who they are and where they came from, to take pride in the accomplishments and achievements of mentors and ancestors. This brings into focus the endless possibilities available to us today, and boosts our capacity for embracing the future. As we look into the future of our Nation, we realize and understand that the members of the LatinX community will play an integral role in the prosperity of our country as they will be taking on more leadership roles and making vital improvements that will resonate for years to come.
In all LatinX cultures, family, or “familia,” is the most important thing, and loyalty to family is something that resonates with all LatinX people, just like Scouters. A young girl being interviewed about Hispanic Heritage Month said it best: “If I have family, then I am rich.”
If we, the BSA, want to make an impact in all of our communities, we must adapt to the needs and traditions of the cultures in our communities. Our values align perfectly, and the Scout Oath and Law fits well with LatinX families. Now that the BSA is a full family program, we must reach out to these communities in their area of comfort and participate in activities directed, organized, and tailored for the families we want to invite.
As an unknown entity that could be intimidating to some communities, BSA can’t expect LatinX families to just come to us. However, if we visit their homes and participate in local activities and “fiestas,” we can slowly build a reputation for caring and being local, and we can become part of their familia.
Here are a few helpful tips to celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in your area:
- Share the connections your camp or local parks, trails, or monuments have to Hispanic and LatinX heritage and history.
- Connect Hispanic heritage with other themes in September and October – like recruitment.
- Showcase objects or artifacts in your council collection important to the Hispanic or LatinX experience throughout history or today.
- Highlight the work that staff do in telling the story and sharing the experience of Hispanic or LatinX heritage, or ask them to share how these histories inspired them.
- Share the projects that partners do in preserving and sharing Hispanic and LatinX heritage, including through grants and programs.
- Create and share activities, lesson plans, and Scout programs related to Hispanic or LatinX history.
- Plan an itinerary that Scouts can use to learn about Hispanic and LatinX history within parks or communities.
- Identify Hispanic and LatinX landmarks or centers that can be helped with Eagle Projects.
Collectively we can continue to move our organization forward in local communities and in our nation, because Scouting, Vale La Pena.
Scouting Wire would like to thank Carlos and Juan for submitting this article.