Jonathan Smyth has seen a lot change in the 26 years he has been involved with the 1st Haney Scout group.
He has seen the group become less regimented in its ways, girls have been allowed to join and there is more of an emphasis on safety and responsibility.
And as the 1st Haney Scouts celebrate their 90th anniversary the former group commissioner is hoping the group gains more recognition in the community as a great opportunity for youth to enjoy the outdoors, that, he says, they don’t often have the opportunity to do anymore.
The official anniversary of the group was marked at a recent church service at Golden Ears United Church in Maple Ridge.
And on Feb. 23 the scouting group also hosted their annual Lord Baden-Powell dinner at Camp Whonnock to celebrate the occasion.
Acting mayor Gordy Robson joined the group for a spaghetti dinner, there were awards handed out to recognize volunteers’ five and 10 year anniversaries along with medals of good service and gift giveaways.
During the church service the history of Lord Baden-Powell and his wife Olave was read aloud. The duo are credited with starting both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides.
According to The Canadian Encyclopedia the scouting movement was founded in England in 1907 by Robert Baden-Powell who was a lieutenant-general in the British army. It came to Canada in 1908 with three troops that established themselves in Merrickville and St. Catharines, Ontario, and in Port Morien, Nova Scotia.
In 1912 the Boy Scout Association was granted a royal charter throughout the Commonwealth by King George V.
The Canadian General Council of the Boy Scout Association, incorporated 12 June 1914, was a branch of the Boy Scout Association until 30 October 1946 when it became an independent member of the Boy Scout World Conference. The name was changed to Boy Scouts of Canada and to Scouts Canada in 1976.
Every governor general since Earl Grey in 1910 has been “Chief Scout.”
The first scout leader in Maple Ridge was the Rev. Govier of St. John the Devine Anglican Church.
As documented by Sheila Nickols in a column for THE NEWS, this first troop of scouts would camp along the banks of the Lillooet River, “and in 1917 walked all the way to Hatzic Lake for a week long camp outing,” Nickols wrote in the Mar. 1, 2000 column.
The 1st Haney Scouts were formed officially on Oct. 18, 1929 after receiving their first charter, outlining the bylaws, policy and procedures of Scouts Canada, back then known as the Boy Scouts of Canada.
Jonathan Smyth has been with the 1st Haney Scouts since 1993, when he joined the group with his son, and later joined by his daughter as well.
Smyth said during the Second World War the 1st Haney Scouts had to scale back their activities because of a lack of scouting leaders.
“Male scout leaders were out in military activities,” he said adding that the group was able to maintain some level of activity through those years to keep the troop going.
During the mid-50’s to the early 60’s, the group was relied up and was involved in starting a Search and Rescue group in Maple Ridge, because, he said, they spent a lot of time in the Golden Ears area for their camping activities and knew the area well.
These outdoor skills are still taught and practised to this day, said Smyth, adding that their group is particularly active in camps throughout the year.
“We use a variety of sites from Provincial Parks to the wilderness areas and usually under fairly good control as far as access and all that is concerned. There’s always a backup plan,” he said.
There are five programs for children in the Scouts: Beavers for children 5-7 years; Cubs for children 8-10 years, Scouts for children 11-14 years, Venturers for children 14-17 years and Rovers for young adults aged 17 to 26.
Phil Goncalves, the current commissioner, have been with the 1st Haney Scouts for 11 years and says he can’t believe how much the club has grown in the time he has been with them.
“We were a small group of probably about 20 to 30 youth when I first started and we’re at pretty much over 100 youth right now in the group itself,” he said.
One of the best changes Goncalves has seen with Scouts Canada is the Canadian Path program they started around five years ago.
“What we have done with our Scouts is they run the program,” he said.
“Our scouters, our leaders, are there to make sure that the program is run correctly and divert the kids away from the wrong things,” said Goncalves, but they are allowed them to make mistakes.
When Scouts groups go out on a camp, for instance, they choose their meal menu items along with the equipment.
After the camp they do a review to see what the participants likes, what they didn’t like, what they could have done better and what they should have done.
“It gets them on a learning path that they start to realize the importance of different things,” he said.
Activities include camping trips, hiking, rock-wall climbing, skating and swimming.
For children in the program, the sky is the limit for them, said Goncalves, adding that they have wonderful imaginations.
“It’s a youth led program where the youth decide their destiny.”