Napanee Scouts group desperately in need of volunteer leaders

Scouter Andrea Miller hands out marshmallows as colleague Dan Chamberlain tends the fire at the 1st Napanee Valley achievement day last week. (Adam Bramburger/staff)

Adults, teens encouraged to help sustain youth programs in community

Adam Bramburger

Beaver Staff

A small group of volunteers is doing its best to share valuable lessons and memories with Napanee area youth to leave them prepared for any of life’s challenges, but they’re stretched to the limit.

As the 1st Napanee Valley Scouting Group gathered at Conservation Park last week for its annual advancement ceremony, six red-shirted adults, known as Scouters, were leading the fun.

They led skits and cheers by firelight, taught ceremonial rites passed down since Lord Baden-Powell started the Boy Scouts Association in 1910, and made sure they found smiles on the faces of the Beavers, Cubs, and Scouts present to celebrate a year of activities and camps.

Group commissioner Andrea Miller said the evening was a good time to reflect.

“Tonight, we come together as a group to celebrate the year that has gone by and anticipate all the good times to come,” she said.

Those good times to come will be influenced by Scouters willing to give their free time to help young boys and girls. Right now there’s a critical shortage of those people and 1st Napanee Valley has actually put its Scout Troop on hold, planning only Beaver and Cub programs for the upcoming year. Essentially, six volunteers are doing the work of 10.

“We really do need more Scouters. We need more parent volunteers,” Miller said. “When we talk to our parent group, everybody has a full plate. Everybody is giving what they can. Maybe there’s some people in the community who don’t have kids who are scouting age, but want to be a part of something.”

Miller said Scouters can be 14 and up. With youth participants, two adults are required to attend functions, but Miller said their energy would still help with the program. Adult volunteers not directly involved in leading scouts may also be helpful in tracking gear or helping out behind the scenes. With additional leaders, the adult Scouters could also specialize their skills.

“You could have a knot guy or a campfire guy. Everybody could have their own little specialty. Right now, we all wear all the hats,” Miller said. “We’re doing our best, but it’s not what it could be if we had all the volunteers.”

The young participants do enjoy what they receive from the program.

Nate McGinness was one of two Scouts participating in a candle ceremony last Tuesday, which is a graduation of sorts from the program. After being involved for nearly a decade, he said he enjoyed being able to camp nearly once a month, to see his cousin during regular meetings at Grace United Church, and to take part in special events with Scouts from other areas.

He said the Scouters have been good role models and they’ve taught him valuable skills like how to use a knife or saw safely, or how to light a fire. McGinness said the program would be worthwhile for children to join.

“If they want to get active and do something, yeah, this would be good for them,” he said.

Miller said the group is always looking for new participants and stressed that Scouts programs are now unisex and invite both girls and boys. Beavers are aged 5-7 and have an adventure-based program that provides an introduction to scouting. Cubs, aged 8-10, begin to explore some more advanced activities, then Scouts, aged 11-14, take a more hands-on approach. In larger centres, the Venture and Rover programs follow, allowing participation until age 26.

Locally, the Beavers and Cubs tend to maintain their registration, which is about 15 total. The Cub program will continue throughout the summer, while the Beavers will start fresh again in the fall. To register, potential scouts are invited to visit There is also a subsidy program available for families who may not have the financial means to register.

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