Fall is a busy time for many families in Oak Bay, with the start of school and many activities.
It’s been especially busy for the 5th Garry Oak Scouts of Oak Bay this year, who have seen their group grow by almost a third from last year.
Adam Nott, Group Commissioner of the 5th Garry Oak Scouts, attributes much of this growth to children inviting their friends to come join.
“We have a lot of kids who invite their friends from school, friends bring in friends,” he says.
Word-of-mouth also spreads news of the fun activities the Scouts have planned. Just recently, the Scouts returned from a week-long canoeing trip to the Sayward Lake chain up Island.
Nott’s son Cameron was one of the Scouts who paddled the 40-km journey.
“It was a lot of fun,” he says. “It gave me the chance to bond with other Scouts. I was a little nervous because it was my first year in Scouts (having graduated from Cubs the previous year) but I really enjoyed it.”
Aside from fun adventures, the 5th Garry Oak Scouts do a lot of fundraising activities as well, ranging from the Scouts Canada popcorn fundraiser, a nation-wide month-long fundraiser in October, to the annual January bottle drive organized locally.
Nott says all these fundraising efforts are going to help send a large Oak Bay contingent to the Canadian Scout Jamboree in Halifax next summer. The Scouts heading to the Jamboree are going to be ambassadors of Oak Bay Scouts, as well as Vancouver Island.
This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Cubs program, formed in 1916.
Nott’s younger son, Dorian, says Cubs has helped him become more physically active. During the Cubs’ skiing trip earlier this winter, Dorian forged one of his favourite memories.
“I was skiing down one of the slopes and I fell down. It hurt a bit but I was having so much fun that I just got back up and kept going,” he says with a smile.
Dorian says Cubs has given him the confidence to try other activities too, such as karate and gymnastics.
A common misconception about Scouts Canada is that girls aren’t allowed.
Nott stresses that all sections welcome girls. “We have female leaders, and are always looking to welcome more girls,” says Nott, who says girls account for about 10 per cent of all kids who join. “It’s a hard sell for the first girls in each section, but it breaks down the gender barriers.”
Nott cites the confidence a child gains as part of joining Scouts or Cubs as one of the key strengths of the program.
“You see a lot more confidence in (a child’s) skill-set and how they interact with (their peers), as well as other adults. (The program) allows youth to grow their leaderships skills in a group, and it also teaches them personal responsibility,” Nott says.
Nott alluded to the Scouts’ Sayward Lake paddle as a key catalyst in helping teach the kids personal responsibility, noting that most were on their own without their parents to help them.
“It helps teach them what happens when you forget to pack a toothbrush, or extra socks,” he says.
Those looking for more information about the 5th Garry Oak Scouts, or who are wanting to support the Oak Bay Troop on their way to Halifax can contact firstname.lastname@example.org