Frank Fernández was on the path to Boy Scouting when revolution intervened.
In 1961, Fidel Castro’s government disbanded the Association of Scouts of Cuba, replacing it with the state-controlled José Martí Pioneer Organization. A year later, the former Cub Scout and his family fled to Miami.
Despite the passage of time, Fernández has vivid memories of his three years as a Cub Scout, including tree-planting projects, outings by the river and the Grand Howl ceremonies where Akela sat in splendor on a big rock.
“We as Cubs could not cross into that circle where Akela would sit on that rock,” he says.
Fernández didn’t rejoin Scouting until 1992, when his son, Franco, was old enough to be a Boy Scout. He soon made up for lost time, serving in roles ranging from assistant Scoutmaster to president of the South Florida Council. He trekked at Philmont with both his son and his daughter, Valentina, and remains active in Troop and Crew 43.
He’s also involved in the Association of Former Cuban Scouts and Guides, which meets monthly in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. It was through that group that he had a surprise reunion about a decade ago. When he showed a photo of his pack to a couple of older members at the Lincoln-Martí Camporee, he says, “One of them looked at me and said, ‘Frank, I am your Akela.’ I hadn’t seen him in 46 years, and I found him there.”