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.