Relationships with other youthserving agencies—churches, schools, and civic and fraternal organizations—are central to Scouting’s success. Those relationships were made official by the BSA’s 1916 congressional charter, but they’re made real each day by dedicated Scouting volunteers and professional Scouters.
Building strong relationships is a top priority in the Mid-America Council of Omaha, Nebraska. While maintaining long-standing relationships with traditional chartered organizations, the council is also reaching out to a host of other groups that share common goals.
“We challenge ourselves each year, asking what else we can collaborate on,” said Director of Field Service Brian Nastase. “If they work with kids, we’re usually right beside them.”
Easter Seals is one such organization. When the local chapter had to shut down its camp a few years ago, the council offered space at the Covered Wagon Scout Reservation. A donor helped make the camp wheelchairaccessible, while the council created a program that runs parallel to Boy Scout summer camp and incorporates both Easter Seals and Scouting activities.
“It’s a fantastic collaboration,” Nastase said. “It has helped us with community relations and with being able to show people how we have made a difference by collaborating.”
The council is also making a difference by collaborating with the Salvation Army. When the group needed training for its leaders, the council developed retreats specific to the organization’s needs; last year, more than 400 youth and adult leaders participated. The Salvation Army has also become an important chartered organization in the council; three of 18 Salvation Army sites in the council’s service area now boast the full family of Scouting units. “Some of them have come and gone because their turnover is faster than ours,” Nastase said. “It’s time consuming to do these things, but it’s definitely the right thing to do.”
A third key relationship is with Creighton University, where Scoutreach Chairman John Pierce serves as special assistant to the president for diversity and outreach. When the university adopted four inner-city elementary schools, the council started Cub Scout packs there—and recruited Creighton students as volunteers.
“We have students here who are on diversity scholarships and have service-hour requirements,” Pierce said. “A couple of them have adopted this project for their service hours.”
The council has also worked hard to engage the African American community in Scouting. Articles about Scouting regularly appear in a local African American newspaper, the state’s largest African American church has committed to restarting its dormant Scouting program, and civic clubs are stepping forward with financial support for Scout units that serve African American kids.
Perhaps the council’s most innovative relationship is with Tyson Meats, which offers Soccer and Scouting— the BSA’s signature Hispanic/Latino outreach program—to the families of workers at several of its plants. The company pays for the program and even supplies translators during in-plant recruiting visits. Yet another council collaborator, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Omaha, provides free indoor practice facilities. Last year, 170 boys participated in Scouting thanks to this unique collaboration.
“It’s growing to the point that Tyson has asked us what we need to do to go on a national level with this,” Nastase said.