Popular youth groups like Beavers, Cubs and Scouts are in jeopardy unless new volunteers step up, said leader Casey Holden.
Holden, who started up the Beavers program with some other parents nine years ago, said that most of the recent volunteer leaders have children who have moved on to other activities, or surpassed the age requirements.
“Without new leaders, the Beavers (age 5-7) and Cubs (age 8-10) will fold. The Scouts (age 11-13) will soon be in jeopardy, too.”
Holden said the rich tradition of Scouting has had a positive influence on many youngsters.
“As an international movement, Scouting offers a variety of experiences for youth locally, regionally and internationally,” she said. “Our local group has benefited and enjoyed experiences in Creston, in the Kootenays, attended a Canadian jamboree in Alberta and an international jamboree in England, to name but a few experiences.“
The program has evolved over the years, adding flexibility so that each group can control what activities it wants to pursue.
“It isn’t only the badge-oriented group it once was,” she said. “The younger kids really like that, but the older members have done a variety of things, from the popular annual cub car rally to shooting off rockets that they made themselves (under the supervision of a local expert).”
High ropes camp, a jamboree a year, curling, golf, movie nights, bowling, first aid courses, archery and hiking the Cody Caves are among the activities recent members have participated in.
“Scouting is a unique program in that it is not a solitary activity or defined skill set but rather endeavors to provide a variety of diverse experiences guided by a common Scouting philosophy,” said Holden. “The intent is that youth work on their own personal development, develop an appreciation of the world around them and a responsibility to serve others.”
Among the attractions for newcomers, she lists:
•there is support for new leaders from Scouts Canada;
•the Royal Canadian Legion donates a meeting location;
•there are funds in the bank and supplies (craft, camp, uniform, badges) on hand;
•there are ready-made programs for any interest (templates have been developed by Scouts Canada and the previous leaders);
•the groups have access to local camps on Kootenay Lake and in Kimberley;
•meeting times can be tailored to the leaders (after school or evening);
•if leaders start now they will be mentored by the existing leaders; and
•there is only one fundraiser for one day per year (sandbags).
Without new leaders coming forward soon, the programs will likely to come to an end later this year.
“Scouts Canada mandates a leader training program for new leaders and this takes some time to complete, although now the majority of it can be done online,” she said. “In addition, an RCMP police record check needs to be completed, as well as interviews. All of this is required for the safety of the children in the program.”
For more information about becoming a leader, contact Casey Holden at 250-866-5458.