Tiffany Ta didn’t get the chance to be a Scout when she was growing up in Vietnam. So when she moved to the United States in 1975, Ta had limited awareness of Scouting’s many benefits.
That changed when her son, Philip, became a Cub Scout and her daughter, Breigh, joined Girl Scouts — and, later, a Venturing crew. Scouting units meet at the same time and place, giving parents a single hub for all their family’s Scouting experiences.
Ta was an active parent before she decided to take a training course. That course, Wood Badge, prompted her to get much more involved. She became Advisor to Crew 1003, got on board with the National Vietnamese Scouting Committee and helped staff two national Vietnamese Wood Badge courses.
How is Vietnamese Scouting different from what most Scouters are familiar with?
We instill Vietnamese Scouting traditions and Vietnamese cultural knowledge. One cannot get that when you go to a regular Scouting unit. This is the beauty of being registered with the Boy Scouts of America, which actively encourages ethnic groups to preserve their culture, heritage and traditions.
And everyone meets together, right?
Yes. The pack, troop and crew meet all at the same time on the same day. And we almost always meet at the park — 9 a.m. to noon every Sunday — so it’s more of an outdoor experience for kids and parents than just a meeting.
Is family involvement important?
We want to make it a family Scouting event, meaning the parents bring their kids and stay. It’s not like you drop off your kids and go. We instill the family interrelationship into our Scouting experience.
Why did you move your daughter to a unit where it is predominantly Vietnamese youth?
Where we lived at the time, we didn’t have Vietnamese neighbors. Although Breigh went to Vietnamese Saturday school to learn the Vietnamese language, she didn’t have nearby Vietnamese friends. By reaching out to an all-Vietnamese Scout troop, Breigh can have Vietnamese Scouting friends every Sunday. It worked well for our family. Breigh and I attended the International Jamboree of Vietnamese Scouting in 2006 and 2009, both in California.
What is the International Jamboree of Vietnamese Scouting?
It is exciting because Scouts come from all over the world. Breigh was able to meet all of these new friends, and likewise for me. Now Breigh has Vietnamese Scouting friends for life from around the world.
Give an example of a cultural skill Scouts learn.
They need to understand and recite the Scout Oath and Law in Vietnamese. Most kids’ first language is Vietnamese if they stay home with grandparents until they go to school. Of course, they grasp English very quickly and forget the Vietnamese language. We also organize cultural events such as the Vietnamese Full Moon Festival during the fall and Vietnamese New Year, called “Tet,” in January and February.
Is there a language barrier with parents?
Sometimes. We have bilingual leaders, such as myself, so we can reach out to the young Scouts but at the same time make the connection to parents and older Vietnamese leaders who don’t speak English as well. Most of the Vietnamese communities are young, meaning that we’ve only been in the U.S. for two generations. We’re now stepping into the third generation.
Describe your Wood Badge experience.
I was a Wood Badge participant in 2011 in the Orange County Council. Since then, I served as a troop guide in 2013 and assistant Scoutmaster for troop guides in 2016 — both at courses run by the National Vietnamese Scouting Committee, which invites Vietnamese Scouters nationwide. The Wood Badge experience benefited me tremendously in my professional life in terms of interpersonal skills, leadership and communication skills. I am
a firm Wood Badge believer.
What else does the National Vietnamese Scouting Committee do?
We work with local councils to serve registered Vietnamese BSA units and provide Scouting programs to the Vietnamese community. We develop bilingual literature for parents, Scout leaders and the community. We do recognitions for Eagle Scouts and other Scouting awards. The committee hosts Venturing camps, National Vietnamese Wood Badge courses and Philmont Vietnamese Leadership conferences.
Fact Sheet: Tiffany Ta
Years as a Scout Volunteer: 11 years
Current City: Huntington Beach, Calif.
Current Positions: Program chair, National Vietnamese Scouting Committee; committee member, Troop 1003; associate Advisor, Crew 1003
Day Job: Correspondent sales manager, Home Point Financial, Michigan
Most Satisfying Moment in Scouting: Earning her Wood Badge beads. “Wood Badge totally changes your life. It teaches you so many things that you can apply to your own personal and professional life.”
Favorite Camp and Why: Rancho Alegre, Santa Barbara, Calif. “This is where I first served on Wood Badge staff, and those memories are treasured forever. A fire took some of the best unique features of the camp. Hopefully, it will come to its feet again so that we can enjoy the experience again.”
To learn more about the National Vietnamese Scouting Committee, visit go.scoutingmagazine.org/huongdao