The 1st Keewatin Group
Based out of Keewatin Public School, the 1st Keewatin Group has thrived with 88.2% more youth joining the program over the past year. Group Commissioner Olean Jones took the time to speak with us about this unique school based program and how it’s allowed even more youth in the community to benefit from the adventure of Scouting.
The 1st Keewatin is currently a Cub and Beaver Scout program based out of Keewatin Public School. As a retired teacher, Olean was committed to providing youth with incredible outdoor experiences.
“As I was implementing the program, it was clear Scouts Canada’s mission of developing well rounded youth better prepared for success in the world, through outdoor adventure, aligned with the schools focus on outdoor education,” said Olean. “The Group gets the youth outside as much as they can. It doesn’t matter if it’s a game or hunting for insects — they try to keep it as exciting as possible.”
Did we mention that the Cubs have even practiced campfire lighting? Talk about an exciting day at school!
The program for Cubs runs during the school week at 2nd break. Teachers within the school help facilitate the program alongside key volunteers. This program is now in its 3rd year and continues to grow. Key events include the kickoff Jungle Camp, where all the area Cub Packs come together to enjoy an event with the focus of the Jungle Book. Canoe camping, ice fishing and a community campfire in celebration of Baden Powell’s Birthday, also top the list of fun adventures for these youth.
“I credit the success we have seen to other children at the school seeing the program in action. They see the activities happening outside and say to themselves, I want to do that” said Olean. “We also had a lot of siblings showing interest and now have a Beaver Colony on Monday nights as a result.”
The school attendance includes Indigenous children from the surrounding communities. The outdoor adventure Scouting program fits with their culture and often Band offices will sponsor a child and the cover registration fee.
“Due to community support, our fall registration kick off is launched at the recreation centre along with other community programs, as well as in the school,” said Olean. “Anyone interested has the opportunity to learn about the program and compare Scouting to other community activities. This event is a huge help and really boosts registration to all five Area Scouting Groups”
Partnering with a school gives the 1st Keewatin Group direct access to the community’s youth. A section on the school bulletin board allows them to post program information, highlight activities and showcase photos from recent events. The Group is even able to send flyers home with children in the fall.
The 1st Keewatin firmly believe more youth should join Scouting in their area for the simple reason of living in Northern Ontario. Some basic survival skills go a long way to begin with but it’s the long winters that make it tough!
“Most kids aren’t interested in sitting in a classroom all day. They want to get out there, get their hands dirty and learn some leadership skills along the way,” commented Olean. “The kids even develop conflict resolution skills, which helps them work together.”
Many thanks to Group Commissioner Olean Jones for sharing her unique Scouting program model with ScoutingLife.