My mom moved to the United States from Ecuador when she was 11 years old. She came to live with her aunt who moved from Ecuador to the USA about 10 years before. Growing up in a Latino household, I experienced a lot of the culture my mother was raised in. As I look back on it now, I can see how the Latino culture and Boy Scouts match perfectly.
Some of the poorest countries in the world are Latino countries. However, if you were to go to almost any home you would be welcomed in, cared for and served whatever food or drink that was available. Expecting nothing in return, they love willingly and give without hesitation regardless of how little they have. Growing up my friends knew when they came over to my house, it was never just a quick visit. They would most likely end up at the dinner table (regardless of how many times they said no thanks), eating a full plate of food and talking about their lives.
In the Boy Scouts, we believe in doing a Good Turn daily. Baden Powell once said, “The Good Turn will educate the boy out of the groove of selfishness.” Some of the most impactful activities I was involved in growing up were service projects. For a Boy Scout to receive his Eagle, he must first plan and execute an Eagle Scout project. In other words, he must plan and execute a service project. Being charitable and giving without receiving is huge in the Latino culture and in Boy Scouts.
Respect for parents and elderly is clearly evident in the Latino culture. In Spanish there are two ways to address an individual. There is the formal way to address someone, “usted” or the informal, “tú.” When talking to parents, someone older or a superior, the formal “you” is always used. When talking to friends, the informal is appropriate. I quickly learned growing up by mistakenly referring to my mother in “tú,” that it was not acceptable.
Part of being courteous is being respectful. In the Scouting program, you learn respect for parents, leaders and the elderly. These are qualities that are being instilled in them from such a young age that will impact their entire lives. They’re taught to use proper language and live in a way that shows respect to their parents and the Scouting program.
Research done by Pew Research Center about the religious composition of Latinos shows that over 80% of Latinos believe in a God. This shows overwhelmingly that faith is something near and dear to them. Growing up in a Mormon household, this was extremely important for my mother while she raised a large family with eight kids. I will always be thankful for the lessons of faith I learned from her which have brought me so much hope in my life.
Faith is a cherished and invaluable part of Scouting. There is nothing more important taught in Scouts than duty to God. Lessons of faith taught will leave positive footprints in the hearts of all those who participate in Scouting.
The ever growing Latino culture is important to the Boy Scouts of America as we both move forward sharing common goals and hopes for the future.