HOUSTON, TEXAS – On December 5, 2011, the Sam Houston Area Council’s International Scouting Committee shared insights about the Boy Scouts of America and its counterparts from around the world with a Chinese delegation of educators – largely consisted of principals – from Xi’an in the Shaanxi Province, People’s Republic of China. The trip was coordinated by the Houston Mayor’s Office of International Trade and Development department. The delegates made their stop at the Cockrell Scout Center before visiting with area school administrators.
Tyler Smith, Coordinator of Special Projects from the Mayor’s Office, stated that the interest was primarily on “educating young men to be civic-minded citizens and how to be leaders of society by example.” The International Scouting Committee organized a panel of six volunteers and professional Scouters led by Dan Ownby, a Sam Houston Area Council Board Member and a newly elected member of the World Scout Committee. The panel presented and answered questions about morals and ethics; how the Scout Oath is put into practice; public service; the educational aspects of Scouting including advancement, leadership, life skills and citizenship; and how local Chinese scout units incorporate cultural aspects into their program.
Until recently, there has been little interest in establishing a Scouting program in the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese delegation recognized that they had a “misperception about the Scouting program” and had thought that it was mainly a military program for youths. That perception was dismissed after having heard the history of how Scouting had started by Lord Baden-Powell right before World War I and how different countries have adopted their own National Scout Organization to meet the aims of Scouting today. “We are pleased to provide guidance to these educators and hope that Scouting’s character building program can begin to reach mainland China,” stated Dan Ownby. The Scout Association of Hong Kong is home to 95,000 uniformed Scouts and the Scout Association of Macau has 36 groups with a total of about 5,000 members. Evidenced by their wanting to visit with the Sam Houston Area Council and by their engaging conversation with the panel members about the Scouting program, there is renewed optimism that their new found interest will spark further discussion or even action to charter a new National Scout Organization in the People’s Republic of China.
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