Barb Perez first got involved in Scouting when her now-26-year-old son, Stephen, joined Cub Scouting. Her husband, Lee, volunteered to lead the Tiger den — then quickly got deployed overseas. So Perez took over, beginning a two-decade journey that has changed her life.
She became a day camp director and a part-time registrar at Pacific Harbors Council in Tacoma, Wash. Then she made the mistake of telling the director of field service that she could do a better job than her current district executive. She was joking, but he took her seriously and gave her the job when the DE left the council. She is now a district director with the National Capital Area Council in Bethesda, Md., where she has also served as development director.
What motivates you?
I really love Scouts. It’s such a great program, and it gives kids fundamental skills they really need for life. Every kid in the whole entire world can benefit, and if we’re not capitalizing on what we have available, we’re really missing the boat and shortchanging these kids.
So you’re excited about family Scouting, right?
For sure. My 16-year-old, Jacob, is in a Scouts BSA troop; my almost 10-year-old daughter, Marlee, is a Webelos Scout, looking forward to her Arrow of Light year next year. It’s a family sport for us, and the fact that I get paid to do this is really icing on the cake.
What has surprised you about the inclusion of girls in the BSA?
We really anticipated an influx of Scouts that came as a result of legacy families, like the Eagle Scout dad who had five daughters. But when we looked at who was joining in that first wave of girls, it was non-legacy families. For every one boy that joined the Cub Scout program, we gained two girls, and I was just so thrilled with that.
Have you gotten pushback?
A gentleman in my Rotary Club handed me his Eagle pin and said, “You’ve sold out; it’s the worst decision ever.” I said, “What about my daughter being able to join Scouts violates the validity of your Eagle Scout? What is it about the Scout Oath and Law that I shouldn’t want my daughter to live by?” A couple of months later, he came back to me and apologized. And I will tell you that he went on to be one of our greatest family Scouting champions — and he didn’t even have any girls.
Photos courtesy of Barb Perez.