Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds
Last week I proudly accepted the Whitney Young Jr. Service Award from the Boy Scouts of America California Inland Empire Council which recognizes outstanding service for demonstrated involvement in the development and implementation of scouting opportunities for youth from low-income or rural backgrounds. Whitney Young Jr., a towering figure of the Civil Rights Movement and one of the organizers of the March on Washington, was known for breaking down barriers of segregation and inequality. I was proud to join community champion Mr. Heck Thomas as a honoree.
I’ve grown-up in a scouting family. In fact, 50 years ago this year, right after I was born my father and several other employees of Southern California Edison, where he worked at the time, organized a scouting camporee at Encanto Park on San Bernardino’s Westside. When he first suggested the camporee, he was told it could not be done. He was told that the leadership on the Westside was just not there. That there were no African-Americans or Latinos to lead.
But he knew better. He knew that his good friend and fellow Edison employee Don Griggs was a leader. He knew that Al Yzaguirre was a leader. That Frank Palomino, Pete Baeza, and Ruben Amador were leaders. And he knew that as leaders in the community, they could train the next generation of leaders, and especially leaders of color. He knew scouting provided that platform because scouting builds character. It teaches leadership. And promotes resilience.
As a Girl Scout that is where I was introduced to problem solving, teamwork, and activities that encouraged self-reliance like learning to make campfires and administer first aid.
As I sat with my family at the award’s dinner, my mother reminded me that not only was my dad a scout master, his father, my grandfather was one as well. My mother was a Girl Scout Troop leader. My brother Hardy was a Boy Scout and his daughters Jordan and Peyton were both in scouting. My sister Regina was a Girl Scout. And my sister Lynn told me she participated in dad’s troop activities as Girl Scouts as well. “So I was both a Boy and Girl Scout,” she said after the presentation of the award.
Fifty years ago when my father organized that camporee for the Black and Brown boys of the Westside, it was the first time many of them were exposed to camping. They had over a hundred young men participate. It was a huge success and decades later some of those young men still thank him. It’s something they remember as an important childhood experience. I continue to support scouting programs, including the Girl Reporter program sponsored by the San Gorgonio Girl Scout Council. I believe the positive attributes that scouting introduces and promotes can last a lifetime.
As an active Girl Scout alum, I am now proud to be an honorary Boy Scout and join my dad and other past awardees who participated in the celebration — Dell Roberts, Bill Chamberlain, Bill Howe, Pastor Jon Harris, Don Griggs, and Heck Thomas — as a Whitney Young Jr. Service Award honoree.