The 1st Ucluelet Scouts are searching for new volunteer recruits so they can continue helping kids explore and understand the wilderness around them.
Scouts Canada teaches kids outdoor skills as well as social skills while building their leadership abilities and self confidence as they work towards earning badges that reflect their new knowledge.
Scouting season runs from September to June and Ucluelet Scouter Ken Roberts is putting the call out for volunteers early to allow interested locals to go through the necessary training to be ready to go at the start of next season, rather than wait until August.
“That’ll give them plenty of time to make the decision, come to the meetings and see if they like it or not,” he said. “If they do like it, then we can get the interview process done and we can get the required training done before September comes around and they can be full scouting leaders right from the start.”
The local program is split into three age groups: Beavers, 5-7, Cubs, 8-10, and Scouts 11-14, and returned to Ucluelet in 2013 after a roughly 20-year hiatus, but Roberts said volunteer help has waned since then with only four volunteers signing up this season.
“We’ve been downsizing over the years,” he said. “This year, we’ve got barely enough [volunteers]. We’ve got two scouters for the Beaver’s and two scouters for the Cubs, but we weren’t able to run the Scouts this year because we didn’t have enough leaders. There was six to eight [kids] that would have been in there this year, but we weren’t able to run it.”
Roberts got involved with the program at the start of 2013’s relaunch and has been thrilled with the experience.
“It’s very rewarding,” he said. “I love seeing the looks on their faces as these kids discover something that they didn’t know before, or something that they didn’t know they could do before. Whether it be as simple as putting a tent together, or getting a fire going without using matches.”
He said it’s important to pull youth away from screens and into the outdoors to learn lifelong skills and added that the group’s camping trips are particularly popular among the kids.
“We’ll work on anything from canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing and we do a lot of outdoor skills stuff; identifying plants and trees,” he said. “Then there is the more social aspect too of working with the other kids. We try to promote them into leadership roles, but also in fun ways like doing skits and plays and music and presentations and things like that to bolster their confidence.”
He added he participated in Scouts as a kid and wants Ucluelet’s current future leaders to enjoy the same opportunities.
“I still look back at the memories I have of doing those camps, sitting around the campfire, singing songs. It’s kind of ‘old school,’ but I think it’s become more and more important these days,” he said.
“It’s also something different than school and they’re hanging out with kids in a wider age group than they normally would…And, for kids that maybe aren’t always interested in playing soccer or other organized sports, this gives another chance for them to have a belonging in a group.”
Anyone interested in keeping local scouting opportunities alive should reach out to Roberts at 1st.Ucluelet.Cubs@gmail.com or check out www.Scouts.ca for more information.