A few weeks ago, I attend­ed a meet­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Scout­ing about the dif­fi­cul­ties of Unit­ed States Scout­ing in the Lati­no cul­ture. I heard a few things that I antic­i­pat­ed I was going to hear, but I not­ed a lot of things I hadn’t sus­pect­ed to be prob­lems. I then talked with Span­ish out­reach exec­u­tives in the Utah Nation­al Parks Coun­cil to fur­ther under­stand some of the issues they face.

We came to the con­clu­sion that Scout­ing is new­er for most Lati­no fam­i­lies and there is a lot that we can do to reach out and help this won­der­ful pro­gram grace their cul­ture. After all, they match per­fect­ly. Here are some of the dif­fi­cul­ties of Scout­ing in the Lati­no cul­ture, but more impor­tant­ly, here are some ideas on how to help it pro­gress. 

Lan­guage and Cul­ture

For many Lati­nos in their home coun­tries, Scout­ing was only for the rich or for speci­fic church­es. Some Lati­no fam­i­lies that immi­grate to the Unit­ed States have some trep­i­da­tion when approach­ing the Boy Scout pro­gram. For some of them, they have only heard of or seen the pro­gram as a “gringo” pro­gram. Fear of a lan­guage bar­ri­er also some­times cre­ates hes­i­ta­tion to join and par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram.

In real­i­ty, the Boy Scouts of Amer­i­ca wants all reli­gions and cul­tures to feel wel­come. Poor or wealthy, it doesn’t mat­ter; we want all to attend and par­tic­i­pate in build­ing the future lead­er­ship of the world. Scout­ing is for all, and troops do their best to help make sure that fund­ing is not a prob­lem for any­one.

As far as lan­guage, the BSA has tried to adapt as much of its pro­gram as it can to make lan­guage as lit­tle an issue as pos­si­ble. With any orga­ni­za­tion, there are always going to be new terms and names to learn, but this should nev­er make any­one fear join­ing Boy Scouts. BSA has many online train­ing and oth­er resources in Span­ish.

Par­ents can find Scout­ing mate­ri­als in Span­ish, so that they can under­stand what their chil­dren are learn­ing. Many local Scout stores have plen­ty of mate­ri­als in Span­ish. They also often have speci­fic Span­ish train­ings held mul­ti­ple times through­out the year.

Fam­i­ly

Many Lati­no fam­i­lies sim­ply don’t know much about Scout­ing. This can poten­tial­ly be a prob­lem for some troops and dens because par­ents don’t under­stand their respon­si­bil­i­ties. When par­ents don’t under­stand their respon­si­bil­i­ties in the pro­gram, it can be dif­fi­cult for the boys to under­stand their roles as well. 

The first thing to know and remem­ber is that the Scout pro­gram is a fam­i­ly pro­gram. It is impor­tant to have par­ents sit down and have a one on one con­ver­sa­tion with the Scout­mas­ter or Den Lead­er. This meet­ing can dis­pel any myths they have heard and clear­ly define what is expect­ed of them as Scout par­ents.  

Atten­dance and Plan­ning

Many Lati­no fam­i­lies are very busy and work some­times hec­tic sched­ules. Some­times both par­ents are work­ing full time, or one par­ent works mul­ti­ple jobs. After com­ing home from long work days, it can be hard to find the moti­va­tion and time to take boys to their meet­ings.

One of the best ways to help resolve the prob­lem is to have the kids push the par­ents. Assign the SPL (senior patrol lead­er) the respon­si­bil­i­ty of involv­ing all of the boys in text mes­sag­ing, social media and oth­er forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Make sure he reminds them about the meet­ings and keeps them up to date. When the kids are excit­ed to go to Scouts, it makes it a lot eas­ier for the par­ents to find the time and moti­va­tion.

Cre­at­ing a rota­tion sched­ule with oth­er par­ents can also be very effec­tive in help­ing spread out the respon­si­bil­i­ty of tak­ing boys to their meet­ings.

The­se are a few of the dif­fi­cul­ties that are present in the Lati­no cul­ture. How­ev­er, Scout­ing in the Lati­no cul­ture is grow­ing, and the lead­er­ship is get­ting bet­ter. What oth­er issues have you seen? Do you have any oth­er sug­ges­tions? Let us know in the com­ments below.

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