By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – It was an evening of flaming torches and a roaring campfire as approximately 150 local and visiting scouts took to the streets of Morinville Wednesday night in honour of Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the scouting movement. Members of 1st Morinville Scouting joined with members of 12th St. Albert Scouts, 56 Kirk (Edmonton) Scouts, and members of the Morinville and District Girl Guides for a torch-light parade, campfire session and refreshments.
Lord Robert Baden-Powell, in addition to being the founder of the Scouting movement, was a lieutenant-general in the British Army, serving in India and Africa from 1876 until 1910. The scouting founder is generally believed to have started the movement in 1907 while on a camping trip with some local youth.
Wednesday night’s gathering recreated Baden-Powell’s scouting traditions around the campfire with each of the visiting and local groups offering song, cheer and skit as their turn came around the circle.
Mitch Ethier, group commissioner for the Morinville area, said the torch-light parade is an annual event that is an opportunity for members to look back to the beginnings of the organization. “It’s to have the kids get out and recognize the founder of scouting,” Ethier said, adding the annual event is important to the children’s development as members of scouting. “We want to have it so the kids know who the founder of it is and where all the history comes from. That’s what we are teaching them about. It’s getting out there and learning about nature.”
Ethier, who was a cub scout himself in his youth in Morinville, said the organization helps young people learn about team work, camaraderie and respect for others.
The group commissioner said scouting is growing in Morinville and that the organization is trying to get out in the public more. “We’re just trying to get out there and make ourselves a little more well known,” he said. “It’s good for the kids. My son is in it, and it’s good for them. It gives them something to do. It teaches them about nature, working with others.”
Twelve-year-old Jake Steele has been a scout for the past three years and said he is enjoying the experience. “We go on camps whenever we can. We get our permits. We learn knots and stuff about scouting,” Steele said, adding past trips have involved making and sleeping in their own lean-tos. “It’s the enjoyment of being able to get the chance to do these things. It’s not that often you get to go camping and build lean-tos.”
Steele said it is important to have the annual torch-light parade and gathering to remember their founder. “It’s quite important because he was the founder of Scouts,” he said. “Without him we wouldn’t be here right now.”
For fellow scout Nickolas Bullinger, who has also been a member of 1st Morinville Scouting for the past three years, there is a great deal of enjoyment in the variety of activities the organization offers. “We can make torches for cubs and stuff. We can help others,” Bullinger said.
Both scouts recommend scouting for people their age. “Don’t sit in the basement on your x-Box,” Steele said, noting scouting is a perfect opportunity for young people to get out and do something interesting.
In Canada various scouting groups are broken down by age. Beavers (5 to 7), Wolf Cubs (8 to 10), Scouts (11 to 14), Venturers (14 to 17) and Rovers (18 to 26). Girl Guide groups are also broken down by age. Sparks (5 to 6), Brownies (7 to 8), Guides (9 to 11), Pathfinders (12 to 14), and Cadets, Rangers (15 to 17).
Ethier said information on scouting can be found online at ScoutsCanada.ca. Those wishing more information on the Morinville organization can contact Mitch Ethier at 780-939-4750.