Scouts celebrate 60 years in Okotoks

Program benefits community and kids

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 07, 2014 06:43 pm

Scoute Jonny, and Thomas Wiggins stand with their dad Nick in Ethel Ticker Park on May 5.
Scoute Jonny, and Thomas Wiggins stand with their dad Nick in Ethel Ticker Park on May 5.
JORDAN VERLAGE/ OWW

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If there was a badge for 60 successful years, the 1st Okotoks Scouts would get it this weekend.

On May 10, the group is celebrating the anniversary with a barbecue and it is inviting past leaders and participants to join in.

First Okotoks Scouts spokesperson Dawn Perrault said that the group’s success has been dependent not only on their enthusiastic volunteers, but also on the support of the Okotoks community.

“It’s the community who supports our fundraising with the popcorn and Christmas tree sales,” she said. “The community is very supportive with us and helps us fund a really good program.”

Children in the Scouts program are taught survival skills, which they put to use during multiple camping trips. They also are rewarded with badges for community involvement tasks like cleaning up roadside garbage.

They learn a lot more than how to get their hands dirty.

“The kids get confidence building, friendships, personal growth,” Perrault said. “They have guidance and they try new things that they may not get to do otherwise.”

According to Linda Duncan, 1st Okotoks Scouts group commissioner, the key to a successful program is strong leadership.

Duncan, who recently won the Heart of Okotoks Award for her 14 years of volunteer work with the Scouts, is in charge of finding leaders and making sure they are properly trained.

“We have a fantastic group of leaders,” she said. “The better the leaders, the better the group functions. The leaders are invested in the group. We want to make sure not just our own kids are having fun but others as well.”

Nick Wiggins has been a leader for the past eight years. He says he got involved with 1st Okotoks Scouts after he moved to the community from the U.K.

“I thought as a newcomer it was a great way to spend time with my kids and meet new people in the area at the same time,” he said.

Wiggins said the most rewarding part of being a leader is watching the kids grow confidence and social skills. He said there is a need for structured recreational programs for children, and Scouts offers an inclusive environment for all kids to participate.

“Scouting is quite different,” he said. “Kids do sports-related activities both in and outside of school and those are often a very similar group of kids. Scouting helps mix that group of children and recruits all types.”

Wiggins’ oldest son, 11-year-old Thomas, said he enjoys Scouts and always encourages his friends at school to join.

“We do a lot of fundraising and we help out a lot,” Thomas said. “We clean the highway every year but it’s not as bad as it seems, it’s actually fun.”

Thomas said he’s learned the importance of being a good member of the community as a Scout.

“It teaches you should always help, don’t stay inside at home,” he said. “You should always volunteer and help your town.”

His dad, Nick, is happy to be helping his kids and others be proactive in Okotoks.

“Okotoks is a developing community it has grown over 60 years, let alone the last 15,” he said. “It’s a young community, lots of kids. I think a healthy community is made up of lots of interest and scouting is a key part of that.”

If you would like to attend the barbecue on May 10 or would like more information, email info@okotoksscouts.ca


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