Over 190 youth from 18 high schools gathered at Tuolumne River Park in Stanislaus County on Nov. 15 for a service project. After four hours of intense work the youth had planted 20,000 grass plugs as well as shrubs and trees.
“Every year we break a record,” says Luis Jimenez, Outreach Executive for the Greater Yosemite Council of the Boy Scouts. “And every year more youth show up.” Jimenez is a former youth member of the program, as were several of the other adult leaders helping that day.
The youth kicked off their service project with a breakfast organized by the HYLC youth from Orestimba High School in Newman. The rules for meals are that they have to be healthy and must be planned and organized by the youth.
The youth were then organized into work groups. After four hours of digging and planting, the youth gathered together to survey their accomplishment.
“They couldn‘t believe it. They kept saying, ‘Wow, we did all that!'” smiles Jimenez.
To add to the fun of the day, the groups then had lunch and entertained each other with “Serenatas” (songs) that they prepared on the spot, using whatever props were on hand.
At the end of the year, the youth will invited their parents and community leaders to a picnic in the park to show off their achievement.
“This past Saturday‘s efforts were typical of the commitment that HYLC high schoolers provide. We are very proud to be co-sponsors of HYLC,” says Bob Dees, Executive Director of the Boy Scouts Greater Yosemite Council.
The youth, part of a combined program sponsored by the Hispanic Youth Leadership Council (HYLC) and the Venture Scouting division of the Boy Scouts of America, adopted Tuolumne Park 10 years ago. They provide community service in the fall and spring. Projects have ranged from painting and sealing bleachers and painting over graffiti to collecting natives plants and seeds, taking them to a nursery where the youth pot and cultivate the plants, then place them in the park to preserve the natural habitat.
While HYLC was established to empower Hispanic youth to improve their lives and get a higher education, the organization welcomes all ethnic groups. The HYLC Scout Venture program is open to boys and girls, aged 14-18.
Update: As pointed out by commenter MBrown, the above article uses incorrect terminology to describe the Scouting aspect of the program. This article was submitted by a volunteer of Greater Yosemite Council and it was published here as it appeared in the Council’s December 2008 newsletter. The use of the term ‘Venture Scout’ should be “Venturer’, ‘Venture Scouting Division of the Boy Scouts of America’ should be the ‘Venturing Scout Division of Greater Yosemite Council’, and ‘Venture program’ should be ‘Venturing program’. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.