Area support manager Melissa Bond (left) and commissioner Fraser Warne were at the Health and Wellness Fair last Saturday (March 7) to represent Scouts Canada to Lake Cowichan.

Local group wants to bring Scouts back to Lake Cowichan after a decade

The Canadian Path: New ‘re-focus’ aims to keep Scouts Canada popular across country.

Scouts Canada is getting ready to move in a new direction — called “the Canadian Path” — and they want to take Lake Cowichan with them.

Local resident Tamara McDonald has been at the forefront of getting a scouting group in Lake Cowichan. She said that public interest for Scouts has grown immensely, with many parents already offering to volunteer since she first brought it up in January.

McDonald attributed the popularity to the lack of year-round activities for kids in Lake Cowichan.

“The only options right now are hockey, which not everybody can play, and Cadets, which is done in Duncan,” McDonald said. “Children need something to do, teenagers need something to do.”

Lake Cowichan’s former Scouts group stopped operating ten years ago, as those interested in the group eventually grew out of it. The Scout Hall has since been torn down.

Scouts has recently started revamping the program — referring to the new focus as “the Canadian Path.” The redesign still remains focuses on outdoor activities and teamwork, but as McDonald explained, the structure of the organization has been completely changed.

“Before, Scouts was leader-run; the Scout leaders would tell the kids what to do,” McDonald said. “But now it’s youth-run, the kids tell the leaders what they want to do, what they’re interested in.”

The iconic badges have also been replaced with “levels” to represent skills and knowledge, and Scouts Canada has rebranded itself in order to attract more girls to the group. According to McDonald, Scouts encourages an element of “managed risk,” to facilitate responsible choice-making for members, and is also embracing a “spiritual,” but non-denominational, element.

“They’re changing the way scouts is run,” she said. “Even people who grew up with Scouts may not recognize it.”

McDonald said the next step for the group will be to gather more volunteers and find a sponsor for the local Scouts group. On Monday (March 9), Scouts coordinators met with the Lions Club, who sponsored the former Scouts group, and are awaiting their decision.

The local Scouts group will be holding an open house at Palsson Elementary on April 9, where parents can learn about the group and register. The group will also be holding two fundraisers at Country Grocer on April 5 and 19, in order to raise money for supplies and uniforms.

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