The only scout group left on the North Island is currently closed due to lack of leaders, and in order for the program to continue to run, they need to recruit more volunteers.
“As of fall 2017, we have not had enough leaders to be able to run any programs,” explained Hollie Clausen, Group Commissioner for 1st Port McNeill. “Obviously, the demand is here, and it’s a long-standing, well-recognized program that parents would like to be able to enroll their kids in. However, we are desperately short of volunteers.”
During the 2016/17 scouting year, the 1st Port McNeill Scout group had 34 kids from ages five to 14 participate. Clausen said they currently need at least two full-time scout leaders to join in order to get the program running again, but they would also like to have an additional part-time person to fill in if someone is away and they are also in need of parents and volunteers to help with behind-the-scenes tasks as well.
“I feel compelled to keep this group going, as we are the last scout group left on the North Island — Sointula, Alert Bay, Port Hardy and Port Alice have all been disbanded,” said Clausen, adding, “I think it’s a great program for kids because it helps them develop life skills like public speaking and leadership. So many successful people have started out in Scouts,” Clausen noted. “We teach kids survival skills too and living on the North Island you never know when you are going to need that — these are skills people will use their whole lives.”
Clausen, who has been involved with Scouting for seven years since first starting out with her daughter’s scouting group in Sointula, said although being a leader requires a criminal record check and some training, it’s very rewarding.
“I think it’s always rewarding to help kids learn,” said Clausen, adding, “and as an adult scouting is a great way to get outdoors too — it helps you stay young by being around kids, it helps you connect with your community.”
Clausen said scouts is also a great opportunity for kids to do things they might otherwise not get to do. “We took them skiing in Mount Washington, we took our Scouts to San Jo Bay, and a Whitecaps game in Vancouver.”
The 1st Port McNeill Scout group will be holding a meeting May 9 at 7:00 p.m. at the Port McNeill Scout Hall at 420 Shelley Crescent to generate more interest in scouting.
“I really hope that our group is able to keep going at this point,” said Clausen.
“I think if we can’t get it up and running again in the fall it will be too long to get it going again. I think it is a good program and it’s relevant for today’s youth.”