Friends in Scouting –
Welcome to a new Scouting year! Many Groups break over the summer and start up again in September, making this an exciting time for both our new and returning members. I’m looking forward to getting going with our Pack and picking up where we left off last year – and I hope that you’re also fired up.
This summer many of our youth members continued their Scouting adventures at camps and jamborees, including the Pacific Jamboree on the West Coast and at the Newfoundland & Labrador Jamboree in the East. And over 700 Canadian Scouts attended the World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, joining 45,000 Scouts and 9,000 volunteers from almost 150 countries as part of the largest Canadian contingent at a world event since 1983.
Most Scouting activities are quite local, so attending a World Jamboree brings a very different experience. I went down to West Virginia for several days and was blown away: the site covers 40,000 hectares and had almost every activity you could imagine, including programming I’ve never seen at a Scout camp before, such as scuba diving and kilometre-long zipline. The logistics were also immense: not many camps have warehouses or a field hospital with helicopter support.
But the highlight of the World Jamboree wasn’t the facilities or the activities – it was seeing so many Scouts from around the world meet one another, make new friends, recognize what they have in common while trading badges and experiences. When I asked the Canadian attendees what they would remember best, they were unanimous in saying that it would be their new Scout friends. I took great heart from that. All the values of our movement are alive and well amongst the 50 million Scouts around the world. A huge thank you to all the volunteers who worked to make WJ such a success.
(The next World Jamboree will be held in South Korea in 2023 for Scouts aged 14 to 18. While four years may seem a ways away, now is a great time to start planning and fund-raising. More details to follow.)
The Board of Scouts Canada met in August to talk about plans for the new Scouting year. We re-confirmed our focus on growing membership numbers – something that can and should be top of mind for everyone as new youth look to join our Sections. We all know that Scouting is an incredible experience and we need to work to allow more Canadian youth to experience it.
The Board also heard about the success of the new Group Commissioner Orientation program, while meeting the most recent participants. This is a three-day course that is getting rave reviews, not only from GCs who are new to their role, but also from GCs who have been in that position for a long time, or who have many years as a Scouter. With many training programs completed online, this one underlines the value of getting together with other Scouters and realizing that challenges (and opportunities) are similar in every part of Canada. All Group Commissioners will have access to the residential course, which is fully funded by a generous bequest from a former Scout.
At the Board meeting we talked more about our camp properties and about how we want to invest to best meet the needs of our members: we’re keen to get input on this, from as many people as possible — stay tuned. We also highlighted how a strong partnership between volunteers and staff is key to achieving our goal of ensuring all youth have the opportunity to benefit from Scouting. From supporting local Sections through to national activities, as one team working together, we can be successful.
I hope your new Scout year is fun and successful, and that we can continue to make a difference in our members’ lives.
Chair, Board of Governors, Scouts Canada