If there were more Scouts in the world, absolutely.
That’s the irresistible takeaway from the 2016 Interamerican Youth Forum and Interamerican Scout Conference, held last month in Texas. Representatives from the BSA met with Scouts and Scouters from across the Americas.
“The conference taught me the true meaning of Scouting — the fact that we really are Messengers of Peace and we have the ability to change the tensions in the world, one person at a time,” said National Venturing President Pratik Vaidya. “We are all united by the Scouting family and can work together for peace.”
Indeed, while the Boy Scouts of America is a movement unto itself, we’re actually part of something much bigger: The World Organization of the Scout Movement. WOSM is split into six regions, and the BSA is part of the Interamerican Region, which includes North America and South America and has its headquarters in Panama.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of our region. The occasion was recognized at the 5th Interamerican Youth Forum in Galveston, Texas, followed immediately by the 26th Interamerican Scout Conference in Houston.
At the youth forum, Scouts and Venturers discussed conflict resolution and how language can foster a dialogue of peace. Rachel Eddowes, a Venturer and one of the event’s hosts, said even though the topics were serious and the stakes high, the sessions were never morose.
“The tone and atmosphere of both the forum and conference were positive and upbeat,” she said. “Even though we were all there to work, discuss, plan and elect, we were all able to do so in the Scouting spirit with songs, dance, laughter and camaraderie.”
The Boy Scouts of America and the Sam Houston Area Council hosted the events; astronaut Mike Fossum — Eagle Scout and Scoutmaster — served as event chairman.
One of the week’s highlights was the election of officers.
Gus Sanchez of the Sam Houston Area Council was named one of two Interamerican Region Youth Advisors.
The 22-year-old is a student at Texas A&M seeking a bachelor’s degree in Animal Sciences. He’s an OA member, Eagle Scout and assistant Scoutmaster, and he has been involved in Scouting at the local, national and international level since 2001.
“Scouting is alive and well in all corners of the world, and it is my goal as a BSA Scout, member of the BSA International Committee, and Youth Advisor at the Regional level that everyone knows how great Scouting is,” he said.
Armando Aguirre, a 30-year Scouting volunteer and also of the Sam Houston Area Council, was selected to the Interamerican Scout Committee. He’s a member of the BSA’s International Committee and has served as Wood Badge course director.
He is a Venturing crew advisor and Scoutmaster and attended the Interamerican Region Conference in Buenos Aires in 2013.
Scouts and Scouters inspired
Jillian Infusino, 2014-2015 National Venturing Vice President, said she loved hearing about Scouting in other countries and sharing some ideas.
“I enjoyed making new friends from around not only just the Interamerican Region, but around the entire world,” she said. “The entire conference helped me put into perspective the impact that Scouting has on the young people of the world. Our uniforms and scarves may look different, but at the end of the day, we are all Scouts and want to help make a better world, together.”
Todd Christian, one of the event’s hosts, said many other Scouting programs in the region are smaller the BSA, but they offer a life-changing program for youth all the same.
“The Scouts from these other countries, including Canada, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and Haiti, are incredibily dedicated to serving youth in their countries,” he said. “This inspired me to do all that I can to serve the youth of the United States and the world.”