Scouting program making a difference in area schools
For over 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America has provided its participants with opportunities and resources to gain life skills that help foster positive personal development and a dedication to community and environmental stewardship.
Through its Learning for Life program, the Bay Area Council of Boy Scouts of America (BACBSA) is now making many of those opportunities and resources available to every kindergarten through 12th grade student in Galveston and Brazoria Counties.
“We’re one of the few councils in the United States that provides this opportunity to children at the full extent possible that encompasses the classroom, outdoor elements and community service,” said Lisa Stegman, BACBSA coastal district executive. “People are realizing this is something we can affect a lot of kids with.”
The goals of Learning for Life are to “encourage a desire for lifelong learning, foster the acquisition and application of personal/social skills, prepare tomorrow’s workforce through exposure of career management skills and develop engaged citizens.”
“Teachers tell me that this is exactly the kind of program they have been looking for,” Stegman stated.
Last year, Inter-City Elementary in La Marque tested the program with a select group of children. Due to its success, Principal Brenda Mullins expanded it to involve the entire school this year.
“It actually helps us; this is something teachers can utilize in the classroom,” she said. “When a situation arises, the teachers have a resource to use so they can make it an opportunity for students to learn.”
“It has significantly improved the social skills of the students and behavior problems have actually decreased with the help of the Learning for Life program and the use of positive behavior supports,” Mullins continued.
The Texas City Independent School District implemented the program in every elementary school in some form this year as the result of its successful pilot program last year, as well.
Currently, 18 public schools in Galveston County and 14 in Brazoria County implement Learning for Life lessons into their curriculum.
“Over 2,800 students are involved in the program, but what we have right now is a drop in the bucket when you consider that school districts can have over 15,000 students,” Stegman expressed. “The goal is to get all the schools in both counties involved.”
According to Stegman, Parent Teacher Organizations and local Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs are helping to sponsor the program at various schools with the $5 licensing and material fee per student per year.
“The Kiwanis Club (of Galveston) supports Learning for Life, because it brings the values of scouting to children who otherwise would not be exposed to those values,” said George Black, past president of Kiwanis Club of Galveston. “Scouting is a proven program that reasserts the values that our country was founded upon. America needs scouting today more than ever.”
Since Learning for Life is designed for every primary school-aged child, the Brazosport Rotary Club sponsors the program for students with special needs in the Lake Jackson area.
“It’s just a passion that we have – not only for scouting, but for special needs children,” said Norman Wood, vice president of the Brazosport Rotary Club and former president of BACBSA.
In addition to the implementation of the Learning for Life curriculum in schools, the BACBSA hosts a four-day outdoor event for students participating in the program each spring.
“Our hosts, main support sponsors and key community developers of the event this year are College of the Mainland and the City of Texas City,” Stegman expressed.
“College of the Mainland is proud to play a significant role in coordinating the special outdoor sessions,” College of the Mainland President Dr. Michael Elam said. “Education is our business and we are delighted to have an opportunity to partner with other organizations around the city to create these learning activities for our children.”
“Many children don’t get an opportunity to touch things outside their own little world; many have never even been fishing or camping,” he added. “This event expands learning outside the classroom, teaches valuable lessons in a fun way and creates lifelong experiences that help children develop into great trustees for our ecology, community and country.”
Held in the parks behind Texas City City Hall May 11-14, nearly 3,000 Learning for Life students will have an opportunity to learn about the environment, local animal life, energy and environmental conservation, outdoor sports and more. Texas Parks and Wildlife will also host learning workshops.
The event will serve as a teaching tool for community involvement, as well.
“The students who are in the program are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to help their community,” Stegman stated. “That helps them understand that someone is giving to them and they can give to others.”
“The whole objective of outdoor day is to bring awareness on how an individual affects their earth, outdoors and others,” she continued.
In order to expand Learning for Life in more schools in Galveston and Brazoria Counties, BACBSA hosts fundraising support dinners and encourages sponsorships from individuals, companies and organizations.
“The purpose is to try to build partnerships so it can grow to include all the children in the area,” BACBSA Learning for Life Council Chairman Latonia Wilson stated.
The next support dinner will be held at the Alvin Community College Nolan Ryan Center on June 3 at 7 p.m.
“Having been affiliated with Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Explorer Scouts, I support the Learning for Life program which works with area youth on positive life goals,” ACC President Dr. Rodney Allbright said. “In addition, Learning for Life programs follow the health and safety policies of the Boy Scouts of America.”
For more information about donating to the Learning for Life program and/or participating in the support dinner on June 3, call BACBSA at (409) 744-5206.