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Voyageur Council Elections

Candidate Statements

Note:  Quinn McKinney (youth) has been acclaimed a Youth Voting Representative.

Brian Lypps

Scouting has influenced my life in a variety of ways from my days as youth to my last 18 years as a Scouter in 7th Kanata and Carleton Area. I have held various roles from Section Scouter,  Group Commissioner and Carleton Area Large Event Coordinator. I was lucky to help organize as a member of a team or as leading a team many large Area events: Beavoree/Cuboree (300 youth+), Klondyke (Scouts 200+) and spring camporee (800-900 youth+). Working directly with youth and fellow Scouters, we achieve engaging and memorable outcomes, while ensuring that the mission state of Scouting formed the foundation.

I am currently working at CAE (32 years) as the Principal System Architect. In addition, I served in the Canadian Forces Reserves for over 36 years holding many senior positions (part-time). In these organizations I was given ever-increasing responsibilities. I chaired committees, worked on committees to refocus efforts to ever-changing requirements, performed project management or engineer activities on large multi-year programs.

While working in any organization, the one common thread is change is always just around corner. To deal with change, successful organizations need to have a positive and engaged approach to the people that make it a success.  This is even more important for Scouts Canada and Voyageur Council, as volunteers and youth input needs to be valued and considered in decision making. 

My hope, if given the opportunity, is to be able to bring my passion for Scouting and the sum of my experiences to Voyageur Council.  

Cam Thomas

I have been an active member of Scouts Canada for the past 59 years – 10 years as a Cub, Scout and Venturer and 49 years as a leader with groups in Oakville, Toronto, Kingston, Kincardine, Manotick and as of last year, Kemptville. My involvement as a leader has always been at the section and group level, with the Scout section continuously, as well as a Venturer advisor for 10 years and on group committees for over 40 years. I have never served at any level above the individual group. I am also one of the original members of Scout Eh.

Scouting has been a wonderful learning experience and adventure for me – I have made many great friends and had terrific experiences. Over the past forty years we have declined dramatically as a movement – membership is down by approximately 75% and despite all the changes, continues to decline - in fact over the whole of Canada there are now less than 14,000 youth at the Scout age level. http://yates.ca/sc/history/membership_national.htm gives an overview of the decline.

We as an organization are becoming irrelevant in terms of helping youth develop into responsible adults.

A continuous stream of changes has been made over the years to try and reverse the decline but in fact we have been unsuccessful. In this time of change and decline many effective, long term leaders have left the movement. A successful movement occurs at the section level – not the area, council or national level. Run a good program with lots of outdoor activities and youth will join. Allow individual sections and experienced leaders to have significant input as to how the organization should function and individuals will be willing to help others succeed. Support individuals with effective training and mentoring and sections will flourish.

I was fortunate to be a voting delegate last year representing Voyageur Region at the National AGM. Unfortunately, at the AGM there is no opportunity for discussion, it is just a process of voting yes or no to various resolutions. However, it was an opportunity to meet many dedicated volunteers from around the country, many of whom share the same frustrations about the movement.

There is positive change on the horizon – a number of voting delegate candidates across the country are committed to reforming Scouts Canada and introduce a more democratic system. In conjunction with this, the Board of Governors is also committed to getting more input from ordinary members. We face an even larger challenge than before with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down much of the Scouting movement. In my estimation, we need to reach out to all previous leaders who have left, to ask for their help in revive Scouting in Canada. There is a wealth of experience that is only waiting to be asked. At the same time, I would hope Scouting would be a large enough tent to welcome all forms of Scouting – traditional, conventional, Canadian Path, groups focused on one subject, etc.

If I am elected as a voting delegate I will do my best to listen to others concerns about the direction of Scouting, support individuals in the region and work with others. I promise to ask tough questions and challenge our leadership to make significant reform within the movement to reduce the bureaucracy, empower local groups and take steps to ensure we continue to own many of the properties we already have for future generations. As well, I believe every adult member of Scouting should be voting directly for Board positions. As a voting member I realize I only have one vote for candidates to the Board of Governors but, working with others committed to reform, I will try to use that opportunity make sure issues that affect the long-term success of individual groups, volunteers and the Scouting movement are raised and openly discussed.

Geoffrey Priems

My name is Geoff Priems, and I have been a Scouter for 16 years.  As the time of writing this I am finishing up my 3rd year as Area Commissioner for Loyalist Area.  I’ve worked at the Section, Group, Area and Council levels.  The reason that I am still with this organization is that I know that I am making substantial and positive impacts on the lives of youth that I don’t think I could do anywhere else.  It may only become known to be a year or years after the fact, but it is that one child that didn’t have faith in themselves, that didn’t fit anywhere else that I am so pleased to help.  And very often, we don’t even realize the impact we are having when we do it.  I’ve also gained some tremendous friendships from Scouting.

Right now, I’m worried that we are heading towards the point of no return.  We have to continue to make changes, and I would agree that 90% of them are in the right direction.  And for 10%, I won’t quibble.  You have to take some bad with the good.  So what is the tipping point?  Well, membership is down to 70,000 youth across Canada – soon we will need to close the doors and disband the organization.

I want to help at the grassroots level to improve program.  That’s why my next Scouting year, I am seeking to help with Fundraising at the Area level. I want to enable Adventure that generates the word of mouth that we need to attract more youth and grow!  I don’t want money to be a barrier.

I want to help at the organization level to ensure we are connecting with Canadians – all Canadians and especially new Canadians.  We take a high number of immigrants because our own population is not growing.  We need to seek ways to reform our methods to attract and be attractive to new Canadians!

So, if you would cast a vote for me to become a voting member you know what I am thinking about and where I think the organization should go.  We need to continue to reform, to seek new communities, to follow the population and be willing to look to the future, and yes, in some cases cut ties with the past and history.  Our past and history should be a source of richness and pride, but not be an anchor to hold us from moving in any direction we should choose.