The scout movement has been part of Powell River’s social fabric since the formation of the mill town itself. Powell River Company’s first physician, Dr. Andrew Henderson, brought the outdoor leadership program to town and served as its first troop leader.
“Scouting in Powell River started just after the scouting movement itself started in Canada,” said deputy council commissioner for Scouts Canada Cascadia region Ron Planden.
For decades the programs enjoyed a robust membership in Powell River, however, they are currently dormant.
Planden said the goal is to revitalize the movement, as excellent facilities exist, including Scout Hall.
“With regards to the Scout Hall, the furnace just needs to be turned on,” said Planden. “The hall itself is a gold mine just waiting to be tapped into. There’s equipment, there’s floor space, it’s heated and dry.”
Scout Hall is rented from City of Powell River, according to local director of Scout properties Willem Van Delft.
“It’s rented on the contingent that it’s being used, so we really need to get it up and going again,” he said.
The other property, Camp Nassichuk, has hosted generations of Powell River youth from scouts to church groups.
“We have a wonderful camp facility south of town at Camp Nassichuk,” said Van Delft. “It’s an excellent resource, an excellent place for young people to meet.”
Currently, the funding and facilities exist to restart local programs, however Planden warns that time is finite.
“There’s money to stand up a group,” he said. “If we can’t get that going in the next year, 18 months, the funding that’s available will in all likelihood be diverted to some other group or project.”
Planden said he is committed to bringing the programs back before such decisions need to be made.
“We don’t want to get rid of any of our properties,” he said. “But if it’s not being used there’s a really hard fiscal argument to keep it.”
Currently, volunteers are needed in all capacities.
“There are people who want to see their youth involved in scouting but don’t necessarily want to be on the floor with 15-25 energetic five to seven year olds,” said Planden, “but they might be willing to take on an administrative role, of which we have many.”
Van Delft said he understands the challenges many parents have in finding the time to commit to volunteering.
“History can only carry us so far,” he said. “When we get into 2018 it is a different world we live in. Single-parent families and a lot of stresses of low-paid work can cause less volunteer time to be available.”
In recent weeks Planden said he has been communicating with some local people who are enthusiastic to get involved. Both he and Van Delft are committed to supporting new volunteers in any way they can to help the program thrive again.
“We will bring appropriate facilitators over to help volunteers with their development before they ever step on the floor,” said Planden.
The success of the scout program is something Van Delft has seen with his own sons.
“Their careers have blossomed as a result of the training they got with scouts,” he said.
The opportunity to disconnect, problem solve and spend time in nature are important for youth of any generation.
“The beauty of the scout program is that it takes kids outside,” said Van Delft. “It’s a great environment for them to be.”
Those interested in learning more can contact Planden directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.