For Mike, Victor, Marc, Lilopau, Peter, Neal and other boys, a Scouting gathering has all the right ingredients: a chance to shoot hoops, learn skills and join in other fun.
If you've got energetic boys, dedicated leaders, supportive parents and Scouting - you've got a match.And it appears such a match is working in the Great Salt Lake Council's Urban Emphasis program, aimed at reaching at-risk youngsters in inner-city schools.
The program got a boost this week as charters were issued Monday evening by the council for Cub packs at five Salt Lake District elementary schools.
Nearly 170 boys are now involved in after-school Scouting activities at Edison, Franklin, Washington, Lincoln and Bennion elementary schools. The Scouting activities through Urban Emphasis are provided at no financial cost to boys or their parents. But the boys are expected to earn their way through "good deeds," said Armando Diaz, a professional Scouter responsible for the program.
It is aimed at teaching the "values and principles of Scouting" to youths who haven't had and are eager for such opportunities, said Scout Council president R. Lawry Hunsaker.
The project has required a lot of time and effort to get boys involved, but he said leaders of Scouting and other programs sometimes face an even bigger challenge in getting parents involved. Sometimes they don't realize what Scouting stands for or how it can help their boys, Hunsaker said.
"Urban Emphasis is targeting areas where Scouting has not been available. Five school principals are happy to have the Cub Scout program and are giving us full support," said James M. Sipherd, a volunteer and Urban Emphasis school program coordinator.
Sipherd, Diaz and Paul Tikalsky, a Scout Council field director, explained that services to the boys are possible for a number of reasons. The program received a $16,800 grant from Salt Lake City and has strong support from school principals and other officials and the Western Laboratory for Leisure Research at the University of Utah. The latter program, directed by Dave Compton, will provide Scout leaders.
"Tonight I saw kids learn together to cooperate and be supportive of each other. They come from many different cultures and ethnic backgrounds," said Compton. He was among leaders having fun doing "grand Wolf howls" and participating in other activities with the boys.
Diaz said the Scouting program is welcomed by most parents, some of whom are rearing their children single-handedly. Many parents are working two and three jobs. Some are unemployed and have a multitude of other problems confronting them, he said.
Mike Hanna, 10, a fourth-grader at Franklin Elementary, received his Bobcat badge, a Great Salt Lake District patch and a World Brotherhood of Scouting patch on Monday evening.
"I like Scouting very much," the boy said.
Salvia Pedroza, who attended the meeting, said she is happy that her son, Anthony, 10, is enrolled in Scouting and "learning to share and help others." She said, "I wish all the kids in my neighborhood could get involved."
Paul Wright, a U. of U. doctoral student in therapeutic recreation, is the Cubmaster for the five packs. His wife, Susannah, is a den leader.
He hopes five more packs can be organized before the end of the year.