February 18th Virtual Transform Westside Summit: Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America and Its 2022 Civil Rights Heritage Hike
Westside Future Fund’s February 18th Virtual Transform Westside Summit highlighted Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) positive impacts on Westside youths; it also spotlighted the 2022 Civil Rights Heritage Hike which honors Atlanta’s role in the Civil Rights Movement. John Ahmann, WFF’s President & CEO, along with WFF Co-hosts Benjamin Earley and Ebony Ford, opened the program recognizing Black History Month while broadcasting from The Gathering Spot, located just blocks away from the family home of Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The summit featured; Faye Hammonds, Director of Scoutreach and Assistant Director of Field Service, Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America; Darryl Lesure, Senior Principal Lead Supply Chain, Chick-fil-A, Inc. and Board Member, Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America; Charles Huddleston, Of Counsel, Nelson Mullins and Co-Chair, Civil Rights Heritage Hike; and Robert Williams, Principal, M. Agnes Jones Elementary School.
The History of scouting on the Westside
Faye Hammonds, Director of Scoutreach and Assistant Director of Field Service, Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America
Hammonds: “Scouting is not new on the Westside. Scouting has been on the Westside since 1967. So Flipper Temple has had a pack and the troop at their church since then. We have lots of programming going on on the Westside, and as you can imagine, we’re rebuilding because of the pandemic. And so we have Pack 1048 at M. Agnes Jones; we’ve got City of Refuge Pack 1300; we have a program at Hollis. We’re working on a program at John Hope and have several other prospective programs that we’re working on. So we’ve worked really, really hard to keep scouting alive and well on the Westside and we’ll continue to do that.”
The characteristics of a scout
Lesure: “Scouting has been around, as Faye said, for many, many years. But really, scouting is all about boys and girls who can begin to participate from kindergarten through high school. It teaches lots of values and instills a lot of characteristic traits that are positive for the community. So if you think about what it means to be trustworthy, helpful, kind, reverent—and that teaches not only the children, but it also teaches the parents because parents start to see what their children are exemplifying and it just makes the world better.”
Scouting brings about leadership so when there’s challenges, leaders start to appear.”
Darryl Lesure, Senior Principal Lead Supply Chain, Chick-fil-A, Inc. and Board Member, Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America
Covid: Creatively teaching the principles of scouting
In the turmoil that was the beginning of the pandemic, students weren’t only impacted by not having the opportunity to experience in-person learning, their extracurricular programs such as BSA were faced with the challenge of continuing to connect with and engage students.
Hammonds: “…Virtual [learning], it was tough for kids. They didn’t have computers, they didn’t have access to Wi-Fi. We faced those same challenges trying to offer them programming. We did try virtual meetings; some worked, some didn’t. And then we had some other ideas. One of the things we wanted to do was to make sure that we kept scouting relevant and in front of the children.”
“We had a really great donor who challenged us to come up with something to do and so we came up with this idea called Adventure Boxes. And so every month, we started with 170 Adventure Boxes, we would mail those to the children who are scouts and those children then would have a meeting in a box. Those folks who could be on virtually could walk through what to do with those materials. If you couldn’t log on virtually, there were instructions in there so that you would know what to do with the compass and the first aid kit and all of those things. And we still kept that going even though school’s back in. The donor was insistent that we were able to keep doing that. And so we’ve mailed out over 2,500 of those boxes. Every month the team comes up with the program, the curriculum, and supplies that we mailed to them. The second thing that we did, we really wanted to try to get in front of the youth and so we came up with the program Take Flight which is a STEM program.”
School: How scouting can impact a child’s education
M. Agnes Jones Elementary School Principal, Robert Williams shared the measurable impacts of scouting on Westside students.
Robert Williams, Principal, M. Agnes Jones Elementary School.
Williams: “Our signature program is STEAM and so through that particular program, we focus on the engineering design process. When we think about the Pinewood Derby, for example, our students are learning about force in motion and actually having to create their car to compete and do various calculations. It is directly aligned to our school-wide initiative of conquering the world through sustainability and creativity. They’re also able to see the importance of giving back to the community. Every component of the Cub Scouts is directly aligned to where we see our mission and our vision of the school. Through the partnership, our students are going to pass it down from generation to be able to see the importance of Cub Scouts and do that with their family members as well as potential generations from now.”
Scoutreach: Serving students from Bankhead to Buckhead
Earley: “I love the point about serving scouts from Bankhead the Buckhead, and anybody that is familiar, that is from the Westside knows that there’s a stark difference in economics and the socio-economics that people have to endure on the Westside…So, talk a bit about the Scoutreach program and how that differs from the other programs.”
Benjamin Earley and Faye Hammonds discuss scouting on the Westside.
Hammonds: “We wanted to be really visible in the community. So scoutreach is important for us to be able to offer scouting to all children and to all families. Through our outreach program, we focus on minimizing barriers to people joining scouting. Those barriers are many…If a family can’t pay the fee, we will pay the fee. We want them to have a uniform, we want them to look just like all the other scouts; we’ll buy them a uniform. We want them to have the opportunity to go camping. We will pay for camping…There are areas in our city where there’s access to children, but there’s not an opportunity for the adults there to offer scouting and so we actually pay people to go into the community and be scout leaders.
Diversity: Equity and Inclusion
Lesure: “In order to become an Eagle Scout or move to the next level, you have to have merit. And this merit badge is focused on citizenship in society and diversity. It teaches all about diversity and teaches you about community, equity, inclusion and ethical leadership. Through that, scouts learn these qualities are important in our society, and they also serve our society. I talked about leadership. So this is a leadership merit badge that teaches you all about what goes on culturally within the world around us.”
Heritage Hike: A Civil Rights journey
Huddleston: “2016 was the first one. Like a lot of folks who are local, they tend not to take in their local tourist sites. And then other people, we found that when we talked to them, they were legitimately concerned about were they safe downtown. They had never spent time downtown. So, we did four things: one was make it easy—all they had to do was sign up and show up; make it fun for young Boy Scouts from across the area; make it like a scout gathering because there would be a hike at one point from Auburn Avenue to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights; and last, let’s have a patch. Can’t be doing something for scouts without a patch. So the 2016 patch featured Dr. Martin Luther King jr., 2019 featured Ambassador Andrew Young.”
Charles Huddleston, Of Counsel, Nelson Mullins and Co-Chair, Civil Rights Heritage Hike
Huddleston: Over 400 scouts and families have shown up each time and we’ll hopefully get at least that many this time. It’s also open to non-scouts if you’ve got children and somebody who’s a scout hears about it, tells you come, come on and join us. Doug Hooker who was on the first commission had the idea of going to the Police Foundation and getting police cadets, officers in training for Atlanta police to be the guide. So, a great way for youngsters, many of whom were of color, to meet police cadets, to have them guide them through all the historic sites. When you showed up you got assigned to a group…and then rotate around to all the great historic sites on Auburn Avenue: the King birth home, the King Center, the tomb of Dr. and Mrs. King, the eternal flame, the national park, the original headquarters of the SCLC, the mural of John Lewis on the wall. Then, after about two hours of rotating, they start the hike. Motorcycle police stop traffic and they get to hike all the way to the National Center where there’s amazing interactive exhibits.”
For more information on the Boyscout of America Atlanta click here.
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View the entire program below.