In 2016, I was looking to register my son in a Beaver Colony. Having been out of Scouting for over a decade, I had no idea about The Canadian Path or any of the changes Scouting in Canada had gone through.
The first night I dropped my kid off was my first step onto The Canadian Path and a journey that would bring me to where I am now—I just didn’t know it then! Walking into the church in Fonthill, Ontario (where our meetings are still held) was like stepping back in time to when, as a Scout, I had volunteered with the younger Sections in my old Group.
Giggles and excited shouts filled the air and echoed off the walls as a gaggle of kids in brown vests and bucket hats lumped together around a Scouter who was leading them in a gathering activity. Brightly coloured folders held sign-in sheets and other information for parents, all laid out neatly on a table as you first walked in. (Good organization always impresses me.) I started chatting with one of the Scouters and filled her in a bit on my kid. I mentioned that I had been in Scouting myself and that I was hoping it would be a good fit for my son.
“Really?” she said. “Well, we could use another Scouter if you’re interested in volunteering.” In my head, I heard Al Pacino say, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
This conversation took place in September; by the end of October, I was in a red shirt and on the floor and really enjoying myself. Having been away from Scouting for so long, I’d forgotten how much fun working with the youth can be. Scouting also connected me with like-minded people who I now count among my very good friends.
The ideas of The Canadian Path harken back to the core values set down by Baden-Powell.
We had about a dozen youth in our Colony in 2016, and we got to do some pretty amazing things: a sleepover at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Beaver Buggy races and nature hikes. As 2016 progressed, the Colony added new Scouters, new youth and began the process of building a solid program. The Colony now has 22 youth and eight Scouters.
In 2017, I moved up to Pack with one of the other Colony Scouters, Euan. We started with nine youth in September of that year, and by November we were at 14. The Scout Troop at the time only had three members, so we did a lot with them and the Troop Scouter, Kent. (He’s kind of our Scouting Jedi Master.)
Wood Badge II helped make our Pack’s program what it is today.
Around this time, Euan and I attended Wood Badge II training at Camp Samac. This was a fantastic opportunity to not only gain a tonne of skills we could use with the Pack, but also connect with fellow Scouters. On a personal level, I became a second-generation Gillwellian. My Dad, who had been my Scouter, was able to present me with my beads and necker.
Wood Badge II really helped make our Pack’s program what it is today. We went back to the youth and asked what they wanted to do, and then set about helping them make it happen. From winter camps in the cold to spring camps in the mud, hikes on the Bruce Trail to fishing nights, we did what we’re supposed to do as Scouters: get the youth outside for adventures. Our Pack continues to grow at an exciting rate; we now have 26 youth and seven Scouters.
In 2018, our Troop jumped from three to eight youth. Euan joined Scouter Kent and they went on to build a fantastic program with the Scouts. The Troop discovered how to use Plan-Do-Review for canoe trips, survival camps and hiking the McKenzie Trail in Mississagi Provincial Park.
2019 saw a slight decrease in our Troop numbers, but it wasn’t all bad news: our Group once again had a Venturer Company, started by former Scouts. Our Company has already been active, assisting with other Sections and connecting with nearby Companies to plan adventures together.
Volunteering with 3rd Fonthill has been one of the most rewarding things that I’ve done in years.
Last year, our Group Commissioner moved away. I felt I had the experience I needed to become a Group Commissioner, and I knew that I would be supported by the fantastic volunteers in our Group.
Volunteering with 3rd Fonthill has been one of the most rewarding things that I’ve done in years. It’s allowed me to make new friends, master new skills and take pride in what our Scouters and youth have accomplished in a short time. Our Group has grown thanks to a collective effort to get on The Canadian Path.
In all of this journey, one small moment stands out. During a fishing night, one of the Cubs approached me with a rod still in its package. He said no one had ever taken him fishing before. I helped open the package. I showed him how to bait his hook and cast his line. He caught his first fish that night. If that’s not the definition why we become Scouters, I don’t know what is.