Letnick: Building leadership, survival skills to last a lifetime

The B.C. government has been pleased to support the great work of our local Scout troupes.

Summer is just around the corner and it’s a prime time to teach our children and grandchildren important life skills—while having fun, of course. It’s such a treat when we get to do this ourselves, but there are some fantastic local organizations doing this work as well.

Scouts Canada is probably the most well-known, having been around for more than 100 years and serving as the country’s leading youth organization. Its outdoor adventure programs run all year round, helping our young people develop into capable, confident and well-rounded individuals.

Scouts Canada offers seven challenging programs for boys, girls and young adults aged 5 to 26. These programs include Beaver Scouts (ages 5 to 7), Cub Scouts (ages 8 to 10), Scouts (ages 11 to 14), Venturer Scouts (ages 14 to17) Rover Scouts (ages 18 to 26), SCOUTSabout (ages 5 to10) and Extreme Adventure (ages 14 to 17).

Activities for the youngest participants might include nature walks, crafts and spiritual fellowship. As kids get older, they might take part in more challenging hikes and camping experiences and water sports. Teen and adult participants build excellent leadership skills by leading food drives and park cleanups in our community.

Locally, participants are gearing up for Central Okanagan Scout Camps at Camp Dunlop. Located just 15 minutes from downtown Kelowna, it gives the feeling of being in the wilderness despite its proximity to the city. It hosts day and overnight camps, year-end celebrations, nature and environmental studies, orienteering work, hiking, water activities, camping and survival skill development, leadership and teamwork workshops and wilderness first aid instruction.

Our government has been pleased to support the great work of our local Scout troupes. We’ve provided $30,700 in community gaming grants over the past few years to support their operations in our community.

Meantime, Girl Guides of Canada also provides youth with the opportunity to have fun while learning new skills and contributing to their communities. There are seven programs available: Sparks (ages 5 to 6), Brownies (ages 7 to 8), Guides (ages 9 to 11), Pathfinders (ages 12 to 14), Rangers (ages 15 to 17), Trex/Extra Ops (ages 12 to 17+) and Lones (all ages.)

The Guides’ youngest members might learn about bike safety or attend a weekend camp. Older girls might learn about online safety or develop leadership skills by organizing local events. Young adults might take part in career exploration and resume building, or even take part in global development projects.

Most recently, local Guides took part in the Guides Exploring Science and Technology, or GUEST, in the Okanagan. It aims to introduce Guides to the wonderful wide world of science, while experiencing a taste of university life. This year it was held at UBC Okanagan at the end of May, with participants coming from Guide Patrols in the Monashee, Kootenay and Thompson Nicola areas.

So when you see these groups out fundraising throughout the year, consider giving them your support. You’ll help ensure more young people can take part in these fun, educational programs that build skills to last a lifetime.