Year of the Volunteer Profile: Luis Sepulveda

By Mark Ray
Photograph By David Nance.

At an early age, Troop 6's Scoutmaster made a decision that shaped the lives of many members of his family. These days, he's playing an even larger role in shaping the lives of greater numbers of underprivileged kids.

When he was 8 years old, Luis Sepulveda of Corpus Christi, Tex., radically altered the direction of his family’s future.

How? He became a Cub Scout. That
simple decision led to a lifetime of involvement with the BSA for his parents (who had no Scouting experience), his siblings, and his children.

Soon after Sepulveda joined Cub Scouting in the late 1960’s, his father, Reyes, became a pack committee member. And when Sepulveda crossed over into Boy Scout Troop 6, his father followed again, eventually serving as Scoutmaster for 10 years.

All five of the Sepulveda boys participated in Scouting. Three, including Luis, became Eagle Scouts, and two became Life Scouts. Sepulveda’s mother, Pauline, even participated. Early on, she wisely taught her boys to sew.

“We all sewed our patches on our uniforms and our merit badges on our sashes,” Sepulveda recalled.

A family affair

“Scouting has been the common denominator that has brought the family together—even my two sisters,” said younger brother Marty.

“Most of our lives growing up—particularly in our teens and 20’s—revolved around Scouting. It was a family affair.”

It still is.

In 2008, Sepulveda marks his 24th year as Scoutmaster of Troop 6. His father still serves on the troop committee, as does his sister, Ann Flores, while his brother Carlos is an assistant Scoutmaster—when he’s not working at the local Scout Shop.

Sepulveda’s son, Luis II, is a Troop 6 Eagle Scout, while his daughter Sarah looks forward to becoming a member of Venturing Crew 6. His sister, Theresa Goodwin, also serves on the committee, and Marty is a professional Scouter who serves as the Assistant Scout Executive at the South Texas Council in Corpus Christi.

Three generations. Ten Scouts and Scouters. They’re all the result of one 8-year-old boy’s fascination with Cub Scouting.

The outdoor adventure

Of course, Sepulveda has spread his love of Scouting to more people than just members of his family. In his nearly quarter of a century as Scoutmaster, he has introduced countless boys to the adventures that await them in the outdoors—and the world around them.

“We deal with a lot of underprivileged kids who otherwise wouldn’t have an outlet for Scouting events and camping trips,” he said. “If not for Scouting, they wouldn’t be exposed to experiences outside of their neighborhood.”

That’s why Sepulveda turns his Scouting trips into voyages of discovery. A summer-camp trip to New Mexico included a visit to Carlsbad Caverns. An excursion to North Texas featured a Texas Rangers baseball game. And each February, his troop visits the state capital in Austin for the annual Report to the State and Scout Parade.

“A trip to the capital gives the kids an opportunity to learn more about Texas than they normally would if they just stayed at home,” Sepulveda explained.

Boys to men

Dozens of youngsters have joined Troop 6 as boys and left as men—although some of them, like Sepulveda himself, never really left.

Take Ramon Dominguez. An Eagle Scout, a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, and a U.S. Marine, Dominguez participated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, spent four years in the service, and then returned to Corpus Christi.

“When Ramon’s four years in the Marine Corps were up, he came back and jumped right back into the program as an assistant Scoutmaster, tutoring the boys and talking about his military experiences,” Sepulveda said.

One of those experiences involved shopping for an orienteering-style compass to replace his military-issue lensatic compass. “I couldn’t use a military compass,” Dominguez told the Scouts at one troop meeting, “but I could sure use the regular flat, Boy Scout compass.”

Last year, Dominguez re-enlisted with the Texas National Guard and returned to Iraq. But Sepulveda expects that he’ll be back in a Scout uniform soon, helping inspire another generation of boys.

Most of Sepulveda’s Scouts are not star students or elite athletes, but neither are they troublemakers or hopeless cases. Instead, they’re the average kids who often get overlooked in life.

“A middle-of-the-road kind of kid can find something in Scouting that makes him feel special,” Marty Sepulveda said. “I think that’s what Luis brings to the table.”

Mark Ray is a frequent contributor to Scouting magazine who lives in Louisville, Ky.

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