Boy Scouts Woo Latinos

By Jonathan Adams Aug 15, 2007

When I was nine years old I went on my first and last camping trip with the Boy Scouts. Not as excited about the exposure to the elements as my fellow campers, I was quite relieved when I returned home from our weekend in the woods. Being a boy scout was not for me, but an article in the Boston Globe reveals that the Boy Scouts have turned their gaze on another group—Latino immigrants. Since 1910, The Boy Scouts have touted their motto, “Be Prepared,” and groomed millions of young boys across America to uphold values like courage and resourcefulness, but they also want young boys to, “understand the principles of the American social, economic, and governmental systems; … and take pride in their American heritage and understand our nation’s role in the world.” While the Boy Scouts have been much more outspoken about their rejection of gay boys, they have cloaked their racism in an allegiance to American systems. How can the Boy Scouts simultaneously recruit immigrant boys and deport their parents who use the values that the Boy Scouts praise to make a living in this country?

Handbooks, advertisements, and even bumper stickers have been translated into Spanish. And though the organization is predominantly white, the Scouts are getting creative by offering soccer programs to children of immigrants from Central and South America who other wise might not think about camping, hiking, or knot-tying.

Bilingual handbooks and soccer programs are not even close to making the Boy Scouts culturally competent. If the organization’s attempt to attract Latinos parallels the way they have exploited the American Indian culture, one easily notes the racist subplot. From “Indian guides” to the “Order of the Arrow” rituals, several disgusting displays that usher young men into manhood are concurrently disrespecting an entire race of people. Maybe I just don’t like camping, or maybe I don’t like nationalist values passed off as progress.