WESTERN MASS(wfcr) -
Faced with a declining enrollment, the Boy Scouts of America is looking to recruit more Latino youth nationwide into their ranks. That campaign is also targeting Latino communities in Western Massachusetts long overlooked by the boy scouts. The scouts' Pioneer Valley Council runs a program called "Impacto Latino" focused on the Puerto Rican population in Springfield, Holyoke and Chicopee. Brian Shanky, says the program has helped increase boy scout enrollment by more than 25-percent in the past year.
Shanky says that scouting re-enforces values that are important within the Latino community itself. As part of their national outreach efforts, the Boy Scouts of America provides a bilingual web-site and handbooks in Spanish for both scouts and parents. The organization has also begun offering soccer programs to children of immigrants from Central and South America who otherwise might not be aware of the Boy Scouts.