Join In On Scouting Fun
Sign up to a world of excitement
By David Roberts
In the last issue of the Bluffs Advocate, we wrote about a local Scout group, the 6th Toronto, and its fabulous history serving this community. In this issue, I would like to talk about scouting in the 21st century and how the 6th, as we call it, is helping youth become leaders.
Beaver Scouts, the youngest scouting section for boys and girls ages five to seven, is all about having fun and building relationships, with an emphasis on co-operation rather than competition. Beavers all have individual maps of their adventures on the beaver pond, and these will help them chart their courses for the year. After each activity, they gather with their leaders and talk about what they learned and what they can do next. The map contains many places for them to explore, including Malak's Maple, which is all about citizenship, Ringtail's Hollow, with a focus on the environment and outdoors, and Rusty's Meadow, where they will learn about health and fitness. But it's not all about the map. Every week, there is storytelling, crafts, and campfire songs. Outside adventures we have had over the past few years include a trip to the local fire hall, a cooking school where we made pizza and cookies, and a sleepover under the sharks at Ripley's Aquarium. But perhaps the best adventure of all was an invitation to join the Cubs at their annual winter camp. For many of the Beaver Scouts, this was their introduction to the camping adventure and that is what Scouts is all about.
The next step up the scouting ladder is Cubs (ages 8 to 10), and here the activities are a little more challenging than those for the young Beaver Scouts. The boys and girls are encouraged to try new activities and to learn how to do their best. In fact, that's the motto of this section—to do your best in everything you do. This can lead to some exciting adventures, the highlight of which is our annual week-long summer camp. We have been running this camp for 65 years and in that time we have seen well over a thousand young Cubs running, swimming, and canoeing throughout the campsite and making friendships that last a lifetime. Like the Beaver Scouts, the Cub program is built around a map, called the jungle map, which depicts the six program areas as places to visit in the jungle, all inspired by the Cubs' symbolic framework of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book. Those program areas include Active and Healthy Living (the Swinging Bridge), the environment (Bagheera's Hunting Ground), the outdoors (the Red Flower camp) and creative expression (Monkey City). The 6th Toronto Cubs have enjoyed some amazing special activities in recent years—outings to Skyzone and the Toronto Zoo, where we stayed overnight in tents and our annual canoe trip to Nicolston Dam. This coming November, we're planning another sleepover trip, this time to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum near Hamilton.
After Beavers and Cubs, it's on to Scouts for youth between the ages of 11 and 14. For our group, and for many Scout groups in Canada and even the United States, the best part of the year is the week at Haliburton Scout Reserve. I accompanied my son and our Scouts to Haliburton for several years beginning in 2002 and for me it was heaven on earth. I can only imagine the impact on the mind of a 12-year-old. Canoeing, kayaking, sailing, rappelling, rock wall climbing, hiking, snorkelling, and even a star hike (drifting on a barge in the middle of the lake to view the stars) were just some of the many activities that kept campers busy from morning to night. And talk about challenge. The good people who ran Haliburton certainly knew how to test all the skills of the young campers. Getting from campsite to campsite and from activity to activity required us to get into our canoes and paddle everywhere. It made for a strenuous and tiring effort every day but the sense of accomplishment at being able to do so was more than ample reward. The Scout motto, as I'm sure many people know, is Be Prepared, and our Scouts learn that this is a motto that will serve them well throughout their lives.
Venturer Scouts (ages 15 to 17) and Rovers (ages 18 to 26) continue the Scouting experience well into adulthood and help to ensure that youth truly do become the leaders of tomorrow. So do you want to join in on the fun? Well, round up your family and bring them to join the 6th Toronto Scout Group. Everyone is welcome to join us for an evening to see what it is all about. Meetings are held weekly in the gym at Birch Cliff Heights PS at 120 Highview Ave. near Birchmount Road and Danforth Ave. The Scouts meet on Mondays, the Cubs get together on Tuesdays, and the young Beaver Scouts gather on Thursdays. All meetings begin at 7:00 pm. The Venturers meet at the school on Thursdays at 8:00 pm. You can also contact me at 416-264-2604 or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join in. We have seen many examples of scouting families who stay involved across generations. Even though individuals sometimes have many obligations in their lives, they often do come back to scouting as leaders when they are adults (even if they have left in the meantime), especially if their own children have entered the scouting movement. Scouting has a way of drawing people back to join in no matter how long they have been away. It is often a joke in scouting that once you join, you can never leave, that is, until you have Gone Home (died).
The question is, does scouting have any relevance to the youth of today? Yes, the world has changed significantly in the century that has passed since Lord Baden-Powell founded the scouting movement by camping at Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, in Southern England in 1907, but the basic principles and guiding tenets of the movement remain the same. These are to teach youth the best way to develop and learn about themselves in a changing world. In fact, one could say that scouting has become even more relevant in the world of today, with all of its technology and movement away from personal contact. The purpose of scouting is not just to teach youth about the outdoors, but to give them the tools to make informed decisions in their lives. Scouting offers something for those of all ages. Leaders in scouting can make a difference in the lives of others. They can be proud to be a part of a movement that has been thriving for a century and has millions of members across the world.