By: Kirby Tello Photos Courtesy of: Boy Scouts of America
Since 1910, the Boy Scouts of America have provided a positive impact on young people and their families by introducing life skills, relationship skills, and problem-solving into the lives of participants.
The very earliest scouting groups in Corpus Christi can be dated back to 1910-1911. It all began when a local mother saw an article in the newspaper and thought it would be a great program for her son and his friend. This local mother was the catalyst for organizing the first Boy Scouts program in Corpus Christi.
Nine years after the inception of the Boy Scouts of America on a national level, the Corpus Christi Council was formed. As the local organization grew, more counties were added and the name changed several times. Now known as the South Texas Council, this group will celebrate 100 years of scouting in 2019.
This year, thousands of South Texas scouts and their families will be celebrating their Centennial with a year-long celebration. Preliminary planning for the celebration began almost two years ago. The activities include Centennial related programs and events, a Centennial camporee expo, and a Centennial logo and patch design. Later in the year, the organization will host a Centennial Gala. In addition, a digital website showcasing the history of the Boy Scouts of America is being made. A Centennial coffee table book will be the hallmark centerpiece, capturing many of the memories, history, documents, and photos of the people, places, and events that have defined South Texas scouting over the past 100 years.
Some say you don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. Marty Sepulveda, Scout Executive and CEO of the South Texas Council for Boy Scouts of America, says, “The foundation of the Boy Scouts program is still relevant even more so today than ever before.” The core tenants of the program, found in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, have helped build the future leaders in our community and will continue to shape future scouts and influence productive progress in the Coastal Bend.
“We want to make sure young people have healthy lifestyles and understand the importance of healthy living,” says Sepulveda. “If more people followed the Boy Scout creed, things like trustworthiness, loyalty, courtesy, and kindness, then today’s society could be more tolerant of each other’s differences. We don’t need to be in total agreement with all of our differences, but just be kind and courteous.”
To finalize this message, Sepulveda states, “Scouting can truly change the world we live in.”
There has certainly been a community buzz about gender-related changes happening in the Boy Scouts’ program. However, while the South Texas Council gears up to celebrate its 100-year legacy, it is important to shine a light on how this legacy has always been co-ed.
Last fall, the entire executive board and directors made a decision to allow Boy Scouts of America’s Chartered Organizational Programs (i.e., churches, schools, and civic groups that sponsor Boy Scouts) the option to register female youngsters into the Cub Scouts (elementary age) program, as well as the Boy Scouts (middle school and high school age) program. These are two programs that have not traditionally had girls in them.
The change ultimately came about because more and more millennial families were expressing their diverse needs in our ever-evolving world. To be clear, while the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts programs are offered to all genders, they are not co-ed. Each den or group of children meets separately and is lead by a den leader (a parent) of the same gender. Boy Scouts of America still believes that the development of youth at those early stages continues to be beneficial when the genders are separate. That said, all dens do come together once a month for meetings, field trips, or camping trips. This is a time for all of the children and parents to intermingle because the organization also recognizes and supports the development of healthy co-ed relationships.
There is a misconception that the Boy Scouts of America has been male only up until recent changes. However, the older age group programs, which include the Exploring Program and Sea Scouts, have been serving both males and females for well over 40 years. “So, we have had an experience with female members in our programs, and we are a better organization because of that,” explains Sepulveda.
The organization understands that while the societal structure of what a family looks like changes and will continue to change, they must adjust their programs to meet those needs to serve their youth members and their families.
“Our programs are evolving with the times,” says Sepulveda, “and we make sure to put all of the safeguards in place to keep our children protected.” This way, the organization can stay at the forefront of allowing progressive change to happen within their programs, which ultimately is a positive impact on our community.
In fact, Scouting is one of the most influential youth organizations in the Coastal Bend. The organization has over 4,500 youth members and over 1,900 adult volunteers. As of December 31, 2017, the Boy Scouts of America South Texas performed 25,000 hours of community service.
This is the legacy of service that the Boy Scouts will be celebrating throughout 2019. It is important for the organization to continue to show their relevance in providing the opportunity for youth to experience problem solving, general life skills like discipline and responsibility, and leadership development. These tenants are the foundation for helping our youth grow into individuals who will tackle community, national, and worldwide issues.
Today, the South Texas Council aims to keep the local program vital by marketing the brand as relevant and teaching kids fundamental skills while allowing them to have fun. The goal is to provide an environment where the youth are excited to grow in the program and develop a personal acumen that they can build on throughout their lives.
Throughout the year-long Centennial celebration, the South Texas Council of Boy Scouts of American will continue to develop an organization that is pertinent to the development of Coastal Bend youth and inclusive of all families regardless of dynamic, socioeconomic conditions and the communities in which they live.
This year, take the time to support the Boy Scouts of America as they commemorate and preserve their long-time history of service in the Coastal Bend.