The Cowichan Lake chapter of Scouts Canada has completed its first full year back in action after a decade of inactivity.
Amanda Sawatzky, a leader or “scouter” with the Cub Scouts, said it’s been a packed year with plenty of highlights.
“We had some really great groups. The Beavers, the Cubs and Scouts — we had all three groups running and they all do different things because of the different age groups of the kids,” she said.
The cubs, for example, participated in a couple of campouts this spring, one of which was in Sooke and had a Harry Potter theme, allowing the kids to immerse themselves in the magic of Hogwarts while enjoying the outdoors.
They also participated in a “live action role-play” here in Lake Cowichan at Camp Woodlands.
“They spent the month prior to it building foam weapons. There were jousting boards we would practise our balancing on. Just all kinds of medieval costumes and activities. So the kids learned about those, and then we went to the camp and they actually got to battle,” said Sawatzky. “They got to do some really neat things. Some archery. Some shooting of (not real) guns. So it was pretty neat.”
The Cowichan Lake area has been without Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts or Beavers since about 2006, when the children of the main volunteers aged out of the programs and no new co-ordinators stepped forward to take the reins.
The 1st Lake Cowichan troop was dormant until Becca Shears (who has since moved away from the Lake) put a call out on Facebook asking why there was no Scout organization at the Lake. According to Sawatzky, Shears said if she could get six or so adults to sign on as volunteers, she would get the ball rolling. Sawatzky was one of those six volunteers.
This past year there were five children enrolled in Beavers, 13 in Cubs and 11 in Scouts.
Sawatzky said the community has been phenomenal in terms of financial support.
“It’s such a generous community that way, but definitely we could use some more volunteers. We could use a new Beaver scouter, we could use another Scout scouter.”
She said the time commitment — a two-hour meeting every week, plus planning and some weekend activities like camping trips — can make it challenging to find volunteers. She said volunteers do not need to have children in the program, they just have to pass the background checks and the Scouts Canada training program.
Sawatzky’s sons, Dylan and Alex, are in Cubs and Scouts respectively, and both said they’re enjoy the variety of activities available to them around the lake such as fishing and canoeing.
“One of my favourite things that we did was we went to Vancouver and we went on a hike all through the night,” Alex said.
Earlier this year, the 1st Lake Cowichan Scouts travelled to Vancouver to participate in a 30-kilometre hike around UBC along with about 600 other Scouts from across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Along the way they took part in skill-testing stations.
Some of the Scouts from 1st Lake Cowichan who went on that trip had never been to Vancouver or ridden on the ferry before. Sawatzky said it’s experiences like those the organization can provide, adding that Scouts Canada has a “no one left behind” policy, meaning a family’s financial situation doesn’t prevent their children from participating.