Arab American youth excel in Scouting

Photo courtesy of Norm Bateman/Boy Scouts of America Great Lakes Council

Dearborn resident Abdullah Ahmed, 13, (left) waits with others to be called in during the Summit on Scouting in the Muslim Community at the Lebanese American Heritage Club on March 1. The Scouts later led the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance, Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Abdullah Ahmed used to spend his afternoons with eyes glazed over in front of the television playing video games. Now after being in the Boy Scouts for a couple of years, the 13-year-old Dearborn resident likes a different kind of game.

“We do lots of things,” Ahmed, a student at Crescent Academy International in Canton Township, said. “Most of them appeal to most boys ranging from sports to hiking, fishing. It is lots of fun.

“At first I would come home from school and be a video game-type of guy, and now I am an outdoors type of person.”

Ahmed is one of many young Arab Americans who join Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts by the droves.

A discussion took place on that topic during the Summit on Scouting in the Muslim Community March 1 at the Lebanese American Heritage Club, 4337 Maple St.

More than 60 Muslim and Arab community members and leaders attended the event, along with Scouting leaders such as Boy Scouts of America Chief Scout Executive Robert Mazzuca, who flew in from Texas.

“We have wonderful Catholic, Baptist Methodist and Jewish Scouts and we have wonderful scouting in Islamic communities across the country,” Mazzuca said.

As Mazzuca later spoke to the crowd he said there is an opportunity to embrace the notion of Scouting and partner with organizations like those in attendance.

“To be a Scout you have to practice that faith life and it is led by people like you,” he said.

After Mazzuca’s speech, he encouraged the local leaders to consider scouting and fill out Scouting startup packets that were on the table.

Lebanese American Heritage Club president Suehaila Amen was in support of the idea.

“It is important for us to have these opportunities to build these types of relationships,” Amen said. “We find it especially comforting to see the faces that are present today … so we can have this open discussion and try to establish more Boy Scout troops in our community,” adding that “I hope to see more troops established so we have more events to attend.”

Rayyan Latif, 11, a Crescent Academy International student and Dearborn resident, joined the Boy Scouts last month and said he is having fun.

“I have participated in some activities … I encourage people to join,” he said. “People think that since now it’s all technology you would get bored, but it’s not true.”

The Boy Scouts of America celebrated its 100th year in 2010. More than 160 countries participate in Boy Scouts and there are 28 million registered Scouts world wide.

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at