Canadian Scouts


Figure 1.--Here is an excellent view of Canadian Cub Scouts and thier Boy Scout den chiefs taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The concentration and smiles on the boys shows an exciting event in progress. Notice that the one of the den chiefs is wearing his "lemon squeezer" campaign hat, and some of the cubs are wearing the traditional peaked cap. Everyone is in full uniform with a mixture of long sleeve and short sleeve jumpers.

We have begun to compile some limited information on Scouting in Canada. Few of our Canadian readers have to date provided us information about their Scouting experiences. Scouting was founded only a year after the program began in Britain and before the American Scouting ptogram was founded. The British influence on Canadian Scouting is stronger than on the American program. One topic we do not yet have information about is to what extet it was an integrated natinal movement or a movement separating English and French-speaking boys.

Background

We have little information about Canadian Scouting at this time. One topic we do not yet have information about is to what extent it was an integrated national movement or a movement separating English and French-speaking boys.

History

We have some basic information on the history of Scouting in Canada. Scouting quickly crossed the Atlantic from England to Canada. The Boy Scouts of Canada were founded in 1907. Baden Powell first visited Canada in 1908. The idea of a boy's youth organization was new to Canadians, but after a brief period of adjustment it quickly became seen as a valuable civic institution. For a few years, Canadian Scouting was conducted under the auspices of the (British) Boy Scouts Association Overseas Department. The Canadian Parliament incorporated the Canadian General Council of the Boy Scout Association as an officvial act of parliament (1914). This meant, however, that Canadian Scouting was still strongly associated with British Scouting and the program showed that influence. A Cubbing program was introduced as the same time as in Britain. (1916). Canadian Scouts became an independent member of the Boy Scout World Conference (1946).

Associations

We do not know very much about Canadian Scout associations. We believe there is primarily one national Canadian Scout Association. This is similar to the American and British model rather than the European model with a number of associations often with membership focused on religious or ethnic groups. We also note an European Scout Federation (FSE) association which is commonly called Baden Powell Scouts in Britain and Canada. Hopefully Candian readers will tell us more about Canadian Scout assiciations.

Levels

Canadian Scouts are organized similarly to British Scouts. Scouts Canada has five full-time levels which they refer to as program sections. All are coed, open to both boys and girls. There are Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Venturer, and Rover groups. This is the traditional set up with the new Beaver levels for the younger children. Scouting began with the Scout level and Wolf Cubs added because so many of the younger boys showed an interest. In recent years the younger children have become an increasinly important part of Scouting which is why the Beavers were added. The same general trends have proven the case in Britain and America. The level of participation by older youth has been declining. Scouts Canada has attempted to address this trend. In addition to the traditional levels, there is also a vocational program. This is largely a medical/first aid program. In addition to the traditional levels or priograms there are also part-time programs. These incude SCOUTSabroad, SCOUTSabout, and Extreme Adventure.

Activities

Canadian Scouting activities like activities in other countries are based around the Scout method which is essentially spending time together in small groups with shared experiences, rituals, and activities. Much of the activities have traditionally centered on cultivating a love and appreciation of the outdoors and outdoor activities. There have also been a strong patriotic component and we see Scouts involved in the pagentry associated with a range of municipal and national celebrations. The activities are tailored to the Scouting level. Cubs are the junior division of Scouts and thus the activities are essentially home based. The primary Cub activities include field trips, games, handicrafts, and a range of outdoor activities preparing the boys for Scouting activities. Games are especially popular with Cubs. I'm not sure if Canadian Cubs participated in the Pinewood Derby which was popular with American Cubs. The older Scouts are involved with more adventursome activities which are much less home based than Cub activities. Youngwe Scouts also enjou games. Scouting activities include boaring, camping, handicradts, hiking, orienteering, swiming and many other actibities. Their is a strong First Aid program. Many of these outdoor activities occur at camps where boating and swiming activities can be organized. Scout camping commonly occurs on a unit level, such as in the pack, but sometimes at Group or District level. Camping is an especially important part of Scouting. This is a recreational activity that gets boys and girls outside of urban areas into the fresh air where they are surronded by nature. For many Cub Scout and Scouters, the highlight of the year is spending up to a week in the summer as part of an outdoor activity. They can stay in a lodge, cabin or tent. Children today have a lot more activities options. These include organized sports and a range of computer activities such as gaming. This has affected Scout membership, in part because many children are not as interested in outdoor activities as was the case in the past. Scouting attemps to address the range of activities through the merit badge program. Canadian Scouters in recent years have added activities for older boys such as travelling abroad to participate in humanitarian projects.

Gender

Canadian Scouts like American and British Scouts have been all boy organizations. The Boys Scouts of Canada decided to go co-ed in 1992, officially opening it's doors to girls. "We're not the Boy Scouts of Canada anymore, We're Scouts Canada," said John Rietveld, Scouts Canada executive director of communications. Rietvel said Canada was influenced by Scouts organizations in Europe and Austrailia, which also allow girls to join. Boy Scouts in the United States and Britain remained and exclusively male preserve. The decision appears to have followed decisions already taken by individual units. One Canadian Scouter reported at the time that This is new to me, from a practicle point, I had "observed" co-ed units from Canada for some time. Emblems and scout items have used SCOUTS Canada for a number of years. Scouts Canada has had a nice rectangular, multi color jacket patch for a number of years, The logo on the bottom of the patch "Scouts Can." Was that just a play on words, or a preminition of things to come? So how long for American Scouts? As an Eagle Scout and adult scouter I would first like to say that I support BSA's policy of only admitting male youth into the Cub and Boy Scout programs. In the case of the United States, I believe that because there currently exists a program for female youth in the Girl Scouts of America, that the BSA should not consider modifying there existing policy. I also believe proposals to modify BSA's existing policy to go co-ed should not be submitted by third parties because the Girl Scouts of America exists to meet these needs. Keep in mind the the explorer program exists for various carrer oriented groups and does admit female youth. In Canada's case I don't believe the transformation should have happended. Mainly because the Canadian Equivalent to Girl Scouts are the Girl Guides, and always have been. Scouts Canada has allowed male/female Venturer Companies, and Rover Crews for some time.


Figure 2.--Scouts Canada redesigned the Cub and other Scout uniforms in the 1990s. The beret is no longer official Scout gear. Note the traditional English-style peaked cap.

Gay Scouts

Scouts Canada decided to allow open homosexuals (1998). Appafently the decision was taken without any real consultation with sponsoring groups. The result was that participation in Scouting programs fell preciitously. Over the next 10 years participation in Canadian scouting programs fell by 50 percent. The reason waas that approximately 70 percent of scout troops are chartered at churches and faith-based institutions. Many troop sponsors have objected to the decision by Scouts Canada. This is a difficult issue because you ant to be tolerant, especially toward children who may be gay. But you alo want to preserve the involvement of parents which is an important aspect of Scouting. One wonders if the idea of youth membrship and leader participation can not be separated. One disturbing aspect is the degree to whaich this issue dominates the modern discussion of Scouting. Rarely do the positive aspect of Scouting appear in the dicussion. Just do a Google search to assess this.

Uniforms

HBU has some limited information about Canadian Scout uniforms. We notice several changes over time in the uniforms at the different level of Scouting. Our information at this time, however, is still very limited. Hopefully our Canadian readers will provide more information on the Canadian uniforms.


Figure 3.--Scout and Venture helpers wear the same uniform as the Cubs in this Canadian Scout unit.

Discussions about the Uniform

Canadians like Americans have discussed their new uniforms in detail.

The beret is intended as part of our formal uniform. We don't really have an "activity dress" (usually we dress casually for activities where a uniform would be inappropriate). The reasion why we want the beret's is its a more traditional uniform. In fact red beret's were worn by rovers until about 5 years ago, when Scouts Canada changed the uniform. Its a common feeling in my crew that Scouts Canada is trying to make the program more attractive to new members (which is good), but we feel that too much of the tradition and cerimony that was part of the Scouting program has been lost.

If that is the case, why not go the whole hog and adopt the Stetsons? I can point you to some sources offshore where you can get them. Karl Pollak

It's too bad that Scouts Can would not allow for an option. I know of a lot of leaders that would pay the extra money for a Stetson if it was allowed and available. I know of some Rover crews that would do the same if allowed also. The uniform is missing a big something without a head dress. If there was an option for shorts and knee socks versus long pants (or no uniform pants as a lot of groups do) then why not allow for a head dress option with perhaps Stetsons (primarily for leaders and senior members) and berets or a decent looking ball cap available. Limited stocks could be kept on hand at various Scout shops or ordered as required in the case of the Stetsons. There are enough suppliers out there. All we have to do is take a look south and see that BSA had Stetsons, ball hats and "fore and aft" caps (the ones that look like an envelope, lol) at one time. I believe that they just have the Stetsons and ball caps now. It's all still uniform, just different options. Just my two cents worth but I see nothing wrong with listening to what the members want (and don't give me that line about no hats is what the members wanted cause I still refuse to believe that mostly because I have yet to meet or speak with anyone who was actually asked). Offer an option and that way it is still uniform but there is some leeway for individual units to decide what fits their financial limits and personal tastes. Blair

One Canadian Scouter insists that his Cubs where the full uniform, "WHY FULL UNIFORM? The Scouting program is a winning and unique organization. The current uniform is versatile and wears well. Collectively we install a sense of belonging, and pride, after all when one joins Scouting, one is joining a very unique, special and exciting youth organization. The complete uniform effectively helps install this message amongst our youth and adult members. When you join a team - dress to look like a team - a winning organization! For our Cubs and Scout members, the scout shorts and traditional knee socks are worn... simply put... there are no knees to tear or wear out, cooler for active events and summer events while lasting longer before they need to be replaced due to natural growth in height amongst our youth members. During colder weather track pants are simply worn over shorts to and from meetings/indoor events. Full and complete Scouting uniform is a membership requirement within our Scouting family.... financial assistance is available on request. It works... give it a try - you will be amazed with the positive feedback and impact on your group. They provide all badges, epaulets, and group neckerchief."








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Created: November 15, 1998
Last updated: 11:15 PM 11/7/2013