By Trevor Busch
After a decade of inactivity, Scouts Canada is attempting to make new inroads back into the community with the formation of a local chapter of the youth organization.
Heading a delegation addressing town council’s Jan. 26 meeting, Scouts Canada area support manager Tom Spackman detailed the recent history of the youth organization in Taber.
“Taber has traditionally had both the (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) Scouts and a community-based Scouts group,” said Spackman. “Ten years ago, the community-based Scouts group folded, and has not been active in that time. The LDS group is going very strong, but I think we have a need for scouting for all youth. The LDS group only focuses on males, it’s not a co-ed group, and it’s only for eight years old and up. Scouts Canada works from five years old and up, and it is co-ed.”
Spackman was requesting grant funding from the Town of Taber to cover the cost of meeting room rental expenses for 2015 as assistance in Scouts Canada’s attempt to revive the organization in Taber.
Later in the meeting following Spackman’s presentation, town council voted unanimously to grant Scouts Canada the required funds to cover the $1,026 cost of meeting room rentals.
“We’re in the process of trying to get a new group,” said Spackman. “I’ve been to all the schools, I’ve talked to the kids. We have a lot of interest from kids that want to start scouting. Scouting is not an expensive program — for a regular year, it’s $168, or $148 if you register before June 1. No child is ever denied access into Scouts because of finances — we have a program that will cover the cost of books, uniforms and registration fees.”
The recommendation to grant funding did not come from the Taber Recreation Board, as administration is following the new Community Grant Program Policy and Procedure.
Spackman indicated that communities of the same size as Taber generally fundraise between $10,000 and $12,000 annually for Scouts Canada chapters, but this would be impossible until a new chapter is already established and in place.
“My five year goal is to have 100 youth involved in scouting from Beavers to the Venture age, which is 18, but by that point it will be self-sufficient,” said Spackman.
Concerns about the quality and safety of individuals in leadership positions within Scouts Canada have been largely addressed, according to Spackman.
“There’s been concern in the past that leadership is a problem in scouting. Scouts Canada is very, very, careful that our children are safe — that’s a number one priority. Every leader coming into Scouts must have a police record check, must go through a personal interview with me, provide references, and take 10 hours of training in order to deal with youth.”
The new chapter of Scouts Canada is being sponsored by the Taber Rotary Club. Scouts Canada provides programming to more than 75,000 youth in Canada on an annual basis.