Back to school has long signalled the return to extracurricular activities for Canadian families.
As provincial restrictions ease, many parents are seeking programs that offer youth social connection, a sense of normalcy, and fun in an environment that puts safety first.
Scouts Canada’s programming has safely continued throughout the pandemic through a mix of virtual, outdoor, and indoor programming, with no reported transmissions of COVID-19 cases through Scouting activities.
To ensure the health of the Scouting community, Scouts Canada quickly adapted to implement a successful five-stage Return to Scouting Plan that scales activity levels in accordance with the current direction of governments and health agencies, regionally and provincially.
It provides members and families with clear, easy to follow guidelines on group sizes and steps to follow for safe in-person adventures.
“Providing a safe environment for young people in Canada to connect with their peers and get outdoors is our number one priority,” said Andrew Price, Executive Commissioner and CEO. “Since the onset of the pandemic, our safety standards have provided a space for thousands of youth to enjoy a fun and adventurous program at a time when they need it most.”
Many Scout Groups across Canada are currently in modified Stage Four of the plan that includes indoor gatherings up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings up to 50 people, cohorts (Patrols) of a maximum 8 youth, and overnight camping allowed in cohorts only, with tents or shelters preferred. Face coverings and physical distancing are required.
Some provinces are in Stage Five, which lifts internal restrictions for Scouting activities, while deferring to all municipal and provincial public health restrictions.
All Scout Groups will abide by enhanced health and safety measures put in place by local public health units. For details of each stage, and to determine the current stage for a local Group, and to view Scouts Canada’s Return to Scouting plan, go to www.Scouts.ca/Covid19.
Outdoor play is a fundamental need for children. Research shows outdoor play offers a multitude of physical, mental, and social benefits, contributing to building resilience, cognitive functioning, creativity, problem solving, social skills, and more.
“I just love being with my friends that I have made from Scouts,” said Anne Flockton, an Ottawa-based Scout. “I feel so much more energized than I normally would at home on my device. I just feel happier and more free.”
Scouts Canada introduced new programing and initiatives throughout 2020-21 in response to the pandemic. This included a free Guide to Resilient Children, developed with resiliency expert, Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe, to help families navigate uncertainty and change.
Additional new programming included: an eight-week outdoor survival challenge, hosted by TV’s Survivorman, Les Stroud; a fun-packed Scouting at Home program for youth to enjoy safe activities individually or with their family during the first week of the pandemic lockdown, and throughout summer of 2020; virtual summer camp in 2020; and resources to support interactive and engaging virtual meetings, so that Groups could continue Scouting and easily adapt to the changing landscape of local pandemic restrictions.
Scouts Canada continues to roll out exciting new programming this fall.
“Our spring outdoor survival challenge with Survivorman, Les Stroud, received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our members, and we’re excited to be rolling out a new challenge this fall,” said Siobhan Ward, Youth Program Specialist.
“By designing fun and engaging activities rooted in the global Sustainable Development Goals, our fall challenge empowers youth to express creativity, put their problem solving skills to the test, drive social impact, and have fun with their peers as they travel virtually to learn about some of our world’s most important issues.”
Registration for January to December, 2022 Scouting opens on September 1 for existing members, with registration for new members starting September 15 at Scouts.ca/Join. New members who join before 2022 will benefit from free participation in Scouting for the remainder of 2021.
Scouts Canada is looking for volunteers to help fill a number of rewarding roles, including running Section meetings, as well as positions focusing on finance, administration, teaching first aid, and outdoor skills, leadership, communications, fundraising, or property management.
Volunteers receive training, personal and professional development opportunities, and support from a dynamic team; make a meaningful contribution to Canadian youth; and have as much fun on adventures as the youth they support. Registration to volunteer is open now at Scouts.ca/Volunteer.
For youth from families facing economic barriers, Scouts Canada has a program called No One Left Behind (NOLB) that subsidizes membership fees and related costs.