At 15 years of age, Guy Seguin is a true example of youth leadership. In Scouts since he was five years old and now a Venturer and Company President with the 77th East Glenmore Scouts, he has picked up his fair share of cigarette butts, empty Tim Hortons’ cups, and abandoned hubcaps while clearing his Calgary neighbourhood of garbage. Not only has Guy and his fellow Scouts volunteered to help the Heritage Lions Club with its bi-annual highway clean-up along Highway 40, he has also led his troop in participating in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, where they cleared a section of Carburn Park on the Bow River.
“It’s an important part of the Scouting movement to clean up the environment where we live,” says Guy. “Our Beavers and Cubs get a lot of use out of Carburn Park. They go on nature walks there. In fact, we saw six or seven deer in the park when we did the shoreline cleanup the third week of September. We had pretty good attendance this year, with 20-30 Scouts and Scouters helping out.”
One of those Scouters, Patrick Gillis, has been involved with Scouts Canada for close to 20 years, both as a youth and now as a Scouts volunteer leader with the 77th East Glenmore Scouts group.
"I have been volunteering for the past five years and although I don’t have kids in the program this gives me a chance to give back,” says Gillis. “I had such amazing experiences with my time in the program. I want to give those great experiences to other kids.”
One of the volunteer opportunities that Scouts provides is a way for leaders to help youth find their own direction in attaining personal achievement, regardless if a volunteer has kids in Scouts or not.
“The biggest push with Scouting is the Canadian Path program. We have turned it on its head by putting the planning and leadership skills back in the youths’ hands.I basically help them with whatever it is they want to do by finding out what their interests are, what outdoor education adventures they want to go on, and being beside them when they either attain their goal or fail. We learn as we go.”
This is especially true when helping Scouts, such as Guy, meet the requirements for the Scouts Canada Top Section Awards. While Guy has done most of the work himself, including putting in community service hours in non-Scouting activities as well as volunteering on a meaningful service project, sometimes others just need a push in the right direction, says Gillis.
“If necessary, I find them the opportunities. It’s a great thing in Canada that there are so many great service organizations and community associations. However, some of them are lacking in manpower to put on events. As a Scouter volunteer, we make that connection between the Scouts and the organization, asking them what they want us to do and seeing whom we can team up with. That’s what happened with Guy with the highway and shoreline clean up. He made that connection,” says Gillis.
One of the service organizations grateful for Guy and his fellow Scout members’ volunteer efforts is the Heritage Lions Club.
“The Scouts have been helping us for about five years. They come out twice per year and help clean up Highway 40 for two-and-a-half miles up on each side. They do an awesome job. We just did the fall clean up and managed to load 10 bags,” says Jill McNeil, with the Heritage Lions Club. “We need the extra bodies because many of us are seniors. And while we do a barbecue to thank the volunteers and we have somebody who does the driving and another who serves as a walker, we need the Scouts to pick up the trash. We also do an appreciation dinner every year and we usually can rely on the Scouts if we need help such as putting out chairs or anything else. We do appreciate them.”
If you’re looking to find meaningful volunteer programs that give back to youth and the community, see how the Scouts can help. Visit Scouts Canada’s Chinook Council serving southern Alberta or Northern Lights Council serving central and northern Alberta and NWT to find a Scout group near you.