Boy Scouts seek to boost Hispanic membership

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by By STEVE STOLER / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on February 16, 2009 at 2:04 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 4:53 PM

FOR THE FUTURE

Steve Stoler reports

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DALLAS - One of the most well known youth organizations is reinventing itself.

As the Boy Scouts of America approaches its 100th birthday, its top leaders say it must attract more Hispanics or go out of business.

Gustave Jimenez is an example of what the Boy Scouts of America would like to see more of. The Hispanic student, who helped lead massive pro-immigration demonstrations in Dallas, recently became an Eagle Scout, which is the organization's highest honor.

"I think we just need to figure out a way to reach out to them," Jimenez said.

Currently, only three percent of the three million Boy Scouts are Hispanic. Fifteen percent of the United States population is Hispanic.

"We need to reach that key demographic in order to survive," said Ponce Duran, the chief executive officer for the Circle Ten Council.

The Boy Scouts are recruiting kids in the Hispanic community by communicating in Spanish and working with churches to start new troops.

"It's the largest growing group in our community and our population," said Mike Ross, a Scoutmaster. "We need to reach out to them and we need to make them part of the Scouting community."

The Scouts Circle Ten Council is providing money for supplies, books and camping trips.

Jimenez said he would like to see more support from and for the parents as well.

"It's not just their kids that are going to be part of the organization," Jimenez said. "They have to be part of the organization as well in support of their child."

A former Boy Scouts' national president, Rick Cronk said if they don't figure out how to make Scouting a more exciting, dynamic organization for Hispanic kids, the century old institution will fail.

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