In July, 2016, 2nd Bramalea hosted the 1st Banchory Troop from Scotland for 16 days. Youth from both sides of the Atlantic were involved in choosing and planning the itinerary. The Canadian youth requested the opportunity to attend Tree-Top Trekking at the Heart Lake Conservation Area, but there was also interest in completing a community service project.
2nd Bramalea contacted the Tree-Top Trekking folks, and found that a) we could not all trek at once, and b) we couldn’t trek all day. Discussions amongst Scouts, parents, and Scouters, led us to Toronto and Region Conservation for a valuable stewardship project. Vince D’Elia was our point of contact at TRCA, and he knew of an opportunity through the David Suzuki Foundation that involves native plant garden creations for pollinators in donated canoes. As it turns out, the Heart Lake Conservation Area is already home to a Medicine Wheel Garden (Gitigaan Mashkiki), which would be the perfect setting for a pollinator garden. And what better symbol of Scouting than a canoe?
Planning the event involved coordinating movement of youth and Scouters between the tree-top experience and the Medicine Wheel Garden. Youth were able to walk along the shore of Heart Lake, and make use of stairs installed by Brampton Scouts in a separate stewardship project a number of years ago. Preparations involved safety reviews at Tree-top, and explanations of the medicine wheel garden by the Four Colours Drum Circle. Youth heard stories and songs by Four Colours volunteers, accompanied by drumming. An offering of tobacco was made to the Grandfather and Grandmother stones surrounding the inner portion of the wheel, as a sign of respect.
The Scouts learned about challenges pollinators are experiencing in North America, and what it means to both our farmers and ourselves. They also learned about biodiversity, and how it helps make ecosystems stronger and more resilient. Our success was easily measured in terms of the smiles on the faces of the youth, as well as the over 300 native plants that found new homes in a once-loved canoe in Heart Lake. We celebrated the day with a picnic supper featuring a young chef-in-training who was once a youth member of 2nd Bramalea. Youth feedback was very positive for this event, and they want to know when we can do it again!
Three cheers for the Canadian Path.