Building Capacity for Diversity

Before I tell you anything about this fundraiser I want to share my story. My Mother signed me up for Cub Scouts when I was just old enough to be a Tiger Cub and I have been with the program ever since. I moved through the Cub Scout program as most do with no drama, earned by Arrow of Light, and got to crossover to Boy Scouts. A couple years into my Boy Scouting career I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. Do I come out of the closet as an open gay youth Scout in the program or do I hide in the closest so I can still participate in all the things I loved doing so much? If I were to come out would I still be able to participate in troop meetings, camping trips, and how would I ever achieve my dream of becoming the Senior Patrol Leader (the youth member running the troop)?? Being gay in Scouting was something that was rarely talked about within the troop- It was known it just wasn't allowed.

I went about the next several years of my life living two very different lives. The life I was living in Scouting- Doing all I could to pretend to be a heterosexual boy progressing through the ranks on my way toward earning my Eagle.  I even went on camping trips to places full of dirt and insects! Then there was my life at school where I was an openly gay student. I would attend the occasional GSA meetings, participate in the World Language Club, founded and started the recycling club at my high school, and even went on a school trip to France. I was awarded the privilege participate in these activities for who I was.

I made very conscious choices to make it a point that friends in these two different lives I have created never crossed paths. If it were to happen I would debrief the school friends on what were "allowable topics for discussion." Luckily for me at this point in my life I Scouted in a different town than where I lived which made this dual lifestyle work.

I am now an openly gay man registered in the Boy Scouts of America, a program that has done so much for me. This is something I had only ever dreamt of and never saw it as a possibility when I was still a teenager. I have been privileged with more leadership and character building real life experience than almost any other 24 year old can claim. I have been able to build an awesome social network of individuals from all different backgrounds and talents. There is a laundry list of great things the Scouting curriculum has done for me. For that, I am forever in debt for all those who put themselves out there for change- whether part of the LGBT+ community or an ally.

I have always been one for inclusion on all levels. When the gay issues was still being jerked around I always thought, why should we stop with the LGBT community? There is a whole gender we are completely neglecting to be a part of our Scouting curriculum. Why can't girls participate?! Now THEY CAN!

Scouting has been around for over 100 years and according to research (Tufts University Study, Baylor University Study) and anecdotal evidence, the curriculum is a powerful tool for character education and community parenting.

Society is shifting and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is learning. Currently, the BSA has made a new commitment to making its signature curriculum available to ALL youth:  from the impoverished to the wealthy, from Muslims to Christians, from gay to straight youth and parents, and most recently to girls.   - ALL who want to raise children of character?

To that end, Scouting in Boston created a year round; open to the general public, camp called The New England Base Camp . The camp itself is "powered by Scouting” - but - you don't have to be a Scout to attend.  Everyone's invited.  This camp is located 7 miles from Fenway Park, 10 miles from the Freedom Trail and in the middle of the 8,000 acre state park called The Blue Hills Reservation. Base Camp has ORGANICALLY BEEN A MELTING POT, AND HAS ALSO become a test kitchen for program ideas and feedback. Opening the doors to the public, Scouting has inspired new ways of looking at this hundred-year-old proven curriculum.  Base camp now provides service to homeschooling families, houses a competitive swimming team, and rock climbing association. We have hired a diverse camp staff and sponsored spotlight days celebrating diversity in spirituality, culture, ethnicity, ability, gender and identity. All these activities and people can find roots in the Scouting curriculum.

This is how the time tested, community building Scouting curriculum reinvents itself. It doesn't need to create a new "modern" curriculum. It doesn't outsource the volunteer scout leader job to a paid staff member. It doubles down on its core: the scout oath and law, and its eight methods; and opens the doors - to - everyone.  We are committed to constantly strengthening these inclusionary principles in order to bring the Scouting values to more and more families and youth.

Culture change is difficult, and this initiative deserves everyone’s support. The camp and its leadership are dedicated to respecting and maintaining the long-term participants that Scouting has always served effectively, while expanding to reach diverse families.

We want to change the image of the BSA in Boston. Too long this wonderful character building curriculum has been seen as only available for white, Christian, suburban boys. For the 50% of American youth who are girls, for the 50% who are of color (Asian, black, Latino, and others), for the nearly 1 in 5 families that are not Christian, and for the LGBT youth, and those from urban environments, we want you to know that Scouting is for you Too. One recent success we have had is outreach to the Islamic community.  Also, our current annual attendance is already 40% girls.  We’re committed to this wonderful growth and evolution.

Please join US in supporting the capacity building and diversity initiative launched by New England Base Camp.

A comprehensive calendar of spotlight days (found here) to celebrate and learn about the diversity in spirituality, culture, ethnicity, ability, gender and identity has been launched through base camp. All these activities and people can find roots in the Scouting curriculum. The time tested, community building curriculum that's proven to increase character in young people.

Please join US in supporting the capacity building and diversity initiative launched by New England Base Camp.

Please Give Today! A generous and anonymous donor has agreed to match contributions made before November 11 or up to $10,000 whichever comes first! Also, when you give, please be sure to leave a comment, and consider volunteering for one of our spotlight days . Volunteering for an afternoon will give you a chance to see Scouting in action!

Please take some time to see what we have been up to by visiting us here ,!
  • George Shepherd 
    • $300 
    • 46 mos
  • Jonathan Pleva 
    • $50 
    • 46 mos
  • Sarah Whitney 
    • $200 
    • 46 mos
  • Lisa Martel 
    • $100 
    • 46 mos
  • Jay Schnapp 
    • $100 
    • 46 mos
See all


Zack Shepherd 
Woburn, MA
Spirit of Adventure Council, BSA 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.
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