Generations of young people have looked forward to the new Scouting year each fall. Whether they are long-term Scouts or are just starting out, it’s a time to think about old and new friends, learning new things and having new adventures.
“There are Scouting programs for youth ages five to 26, with leadership when they are older. There are more than 200 participants in our area with 89 adult volunteer leaders,” said Margaret McGillivray, North Okanagan Service Team, Scouts Canada.
“People can join at any age and there are so many interests they can follow, from the traditional outdoor activities and teamwork and leadership to setting their own goals with projects in art, computers, cooking, sports, or whatever they choose. Scouts can work towards the Duke of Edinburgh Awards if they want.”
McGillivray, like many leaders, was not a Scout herself but got involved when her son was in the program.
“A lot of adults also get a lot out of the program, learning and doing things that they might not do otherwise. I know it helped me with public speaking and using the computer and my husband, Jim, cooks for camps and jamborees, so we have been able to meet people from all across Canada,” she said.
Erik Haselhorst, Sixth Vernon Group Scouts Canada, got interested in Scouts when his son was a member.
“I liked the programs and I got active leading camping, hiking, climbing and in teaching the natural history of the area. Being in Scouts can be a life-changing experience. My son went to a summer high-adventure camp and got interested in river rafting and went on to represent Canada at international rafting competitions as an adult,” he said.
“Scouts have been involved in environmental activities for a long time with programs like tree planting at Kekuli Bay, Ellison Park and Fintry and creek clean-up.”
Elizabeth Abrahamsen, popcorn coordinator, Cascadia Council North Okanagan Scouts Canada, is another parent who got involved and stayed after her son left Scouts.
“The young people — Scouts has been co-ed for about 20 years — gain so much self esteem and the adults who take the leadership training say they gain a lot from it as well,” she said.
“Another thing that means a lot to all parents is that the program is not too costly for them. We have fundraisers to cover many of the costs of equipment and supplies and the young people learn by taking part in the fundraisers. I love everything about Scouts so much that I’ve stayed with it for 35 years.”
McGillivray said that being a leader is a commitment of time and energy but she’s glad to do it.
“I like it when young men and women come up to me in the street and say, ‘I remember you from Scouts.’”
Scouting also provides opportunities to meet other Scouts from around the world and to take part in international service, like building schools in needy countries. Closer to home, groups have done activities like planning and preparing for a successful hike of the West Coast Trail and making and learning to paddle their own kayaks.
Youth with physical or mental challenges are welcome to join Scouting. There is partial financial assistance available for anyone who wants to join, in accordance with the motto, “No one left behind.”
Look for the popcorn sales locally in November.
Scouting registration is on now. For more information about taking part in Scouts or being a leader, contact 250-545-4922 or firstname.lastname@example.org.