In 1907, Robert Baden-Powell, a Lieutenant General in the British army, held a camp for boys on an island in southern England to test the ideas he’d included in a book called Scouting for Boys. About 20 boys attended, several of whom were his son’s friends. This small event would mark the beginning of a worldwide movement, with Baden-Powell’s book eventually selling more than 100 million copies.
Since Baden-Powell formed The Boys Scouts Association in 1910, millions of children and youth, ages 5 to 26, have participated in Scouts and learned about nature, the outdoors and the importance of friendship and leadership.
When Scouts first began, young girls also expressed an interest in getting involved. In response, Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes started Girl Guides in 1910. However, in 1998, Scouts became fully co-ed, and it continues to be committed to diversity and inclusivity today.
In Canada, there are more than 50,000 youth in Scouts who participate in outdoor adventure, fun experiences and community contributions, making Scouts Canada this country’s leading co-ed youth organization.
The mission of Scouts Canada is to “help develop well-rounded youth, better prepared for success in the world.” In an age of screens, Scouts offers a breath of fresh air – motivating kids to get outside and explore the real world. Sports and outdoor adventure make up a large part of the activities. They learn first aid and emergency training, and are taught about healthy living, respect for the environment and the importance of nature. Personal development is emphasized in the organization, as Scouts are encouraged to volunteer in their community.
The groups are separated by age and include Beaver Scouts (5-7); Cub Scouts (8-10); Scouts (11-14); Venturer Scouts (15-17) and Rover Scouts (18-26).
In Beaver Scouts, kids spend the bulk of their time exploring the outdoors and building social skills through nature walks, hikes, tree planting, games and crafts. Earning personal achievement badges is encouraged.
Cub Scouts are introduced to more variety, from camping and hiking to community projects and environmental stewardship programs.
Scouts hone their outdoor adventure skills with activities like mountain biking, rock climbing and lots of camping, as well as participate in unique opportunities like national or international jamborees.
Venturer Scouts begin building the knowledge and skills for career development, as well as participate in outdoor adventures, weekend events, extended hikes, leave-no-trace camping, spiritual reflection, community service and more.
Kids of any age can apply to join Scouts Canada at any time of year. Memberships are renewable on a yearly basis. To ensure all children can access the Scouts Canada experience, the No One Left Behind program provides financial subsidies to families in need.
Visit www.scouts.ca to find a Scouts group in your area.
by Denise Davy