Author Archives: markburge

Program Ideas 1 – Environmental Stewardship

While I’m in the middle of taking my Woodbadge II for Company and Crew, it occurred me there aren’t a lot of resources on the more obscure parts of a well-rounded program.  All parts of the Venturer and Rover Scout Programs are important, but some like camping or service get a lot more attention than topics like conservation or even simply administration of the Company or Crew.

So this will be one of many in a series of improving various aspects of youth programming at the Venturer and Rover Scout levels.

Environmental Stewardship

Leave No Trace Canada

The main thing I find that gets attention from companies and crews when talking about the Environment is Leave No Trace. From the simple, “pack in what you pack out” to more elaborate codes of conduct, it can have various meanings for various activities. Leave No Trace Canada is a “national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships.”  Otherwise a perfect outside agency to learn from for being experts in their field.  They offer various levels of training, an awareness workshop which covers the basics, and trainer certifications to put on the workshops.

Venturer Scouts can take the course which can satisfy various requirements:

  • Contribute to Section 4-f of the Exploration Award
  • Section 3-c,i of the Outdoorsman Award
  • Contribute to requirement 3 of the old World Conservation Award

Rover Scouts can take the workshop, or even take the trainer certification and put on courses for Venturer Scouts in the area.  Besides, it never hurts to get a refresher to use when you’re planning your exploration events.

[Editor’s note: A LNT session will be put on by your’s truly at the upcoming Mash Moot, and is available to put on courses upon request.]
More Program Ideas After The Jump

It’s the People (Skills), Stupid


In the past five or six years, I’ve increasingly heard the sentiment locally and through other channels that social camps are useless and have nothing to do with Scouting. After all, are there the markings of a traditional scout camp? Not really. Heck there’s even dances and jello wrestling at one of them!   Like customer service bad events are always shared with 7-10 people while good events are only shared by 1-3  and I wanted to explain with the help of some local Rovers what exactly what they are and what value they bring to the program of Venturer Scouts and Rover Scouts.  Social camps in south-western British Columbia include four (4) main events spread out over the Scouting year. There is a new social camp, Camp Coyote and some smaller Rover Moots that supplement these main program markers.

A few things that are common to all camps:

  • Each(aside from the Rover only Moots) are open to Venturer Scouts, Rover Scouts and members of Girl Guides of Canada aged 15-30 as well as their respective Advisors. It’s also open to other WOSM organizations; we’ve had Australians and Americans attend at least one of these events in any given year.
  • Camp attendance varies from 300-700 participants (Youth and Advisors) from Pacific Coast, Fraser Valley, their respective Girl Guides of Canada areas and occasionally groups from Washington State.
  • Saturday is the main day of activities, usually culminating with a dance on the Saturday night. Awards for events are typically presented at Camp Closing on Sunday morning.
  • Groups attending are responsible for everything they need for a weekend of camping, aside from program. All groups are expected to come with Advisors and their own camp forms. Advisors are responsible for their own youth at all times.
  • Any major breaches of the BP&P are handled by sending the group home immediately (even if it’s at 2am and the parents have to drive out to pick them up), and a formal complaint is lodged with Scouts Canada by the group running the camp. Minor infractions are handled at camp between the Camp Chief and group(s) involved in the mischief.
  • Most of these camps are run by volunteer staff that are aged less than 30, with the majority of planning done by youth 18-25. RoVent is the exception to this; “Friends of RoVent” do a lot of the planning and execution of this event, but are continually looking for new members to run the camp and aim for a Rover to be the Camp Chief.

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Uniforms: The history lesson you need to understand where we stand today

It’s been a week since Scouts Canada unveiled its new uniforms, the first time in 20 years.  Well, ignoring the Circa and Bring on the Adventure.  Both campaigns that failed miserably.  Circa was supposed to bring a modern look to the movement in Canada, instead it just served as an distraction to a sinking ship that was Scouts Canada at the time.

Back in 2005, a document was sent out to all who had email address on file and would be interested in seeing where scouting should go in the next decade. Not the best system of getting feedback but it was a start.  Slowly we’ve seen the document turn into reality.

We’ve seen electronic training for new leaders come out, so there is less time spent away from home. That can be crucial for getting new parent leaders involved and interested beyond the time their child is in the movement, or even recruiting brand new people to Scouts Canada.

We’ve seen a website that is massively better then previous generations.

And we thought this was good web design? (scouts.ca around 1998)

Only slightly better. (scouts.ca around 2004)

Part of that plan is to make camps more usable for scout groups, and I can attest to seeing the results.These sites aren’t only a place to camp, but are building up activities available there for minimal usage cost. Camp Byng for example now has a Frisbee disc golf course, an archery range, and a soon to be high ropes course, among other things. Plus we can make the camps useful for corporate retreats and such. Apparently having a group of adults learning how to work together to climb over a wall is teambuilding. Imagine that!

What I’m trying to get at is that changing the uniform is part of a multi-pronged offensive to get Canadians part of an organization where the core program can benefit all.  Getting rid of outdated ideas and misinformation in terms of getting rid of the stereotypes is part of the reason Scouts Canada is updating.

Let’s talk to Our Chief Scout.

BP on brownsea island, wearing a tie. This guy is classy, ALL the time! Also, not a Zombie.

When Scouting for Boys was published, it was assumed that boys would form troops within other organizations and wear the scout badge on that uniform in addition to the other groups various bits.  Obviously Scouting grew far too quickly for that to work and BP laid out his vision of uniform which was relatively cheap and easy to get.

Which it is now.

So let’s actually compare uniforms shall we?  Continue reading

Scouting: Why it matters to me. 20 years on

This was originally written in response for the Reginald K. Groome Scholarship for Scouts Canada youth pursuing post-secondary education.  The scholarship asks to “Attach a typed statement, no more than 200 words, on the value of Scouting in your life.”

Obviously 200 words is crazy hard to fit 20 years of Scouting into, heck I can barely fit a favourite memory into 140 characters. I’ve done most of my post-secondary schooling and I’m not really interested in the money.  I am however interested in what I as an individual have learned from the movement, 20 years after my grandmother (my family can easily go into triple digits of Scouting years and is a whole ‘nother post), an Akela helping with a little camp known as Camp LogJam dragged me along to a workbee, and being told to sit and colour and drink my juice.

So it begins.

I’m not going to tell you how being able to light a fire in the rain with two matches, or have the skill of tying six knots in one piece of rope became the most useful thing I learned in Scouts. Fact is nearly everything I learned in Scouts- from making a picture frame in beavers to camping with my crew in snow caves on the side of a mountain are skills I could have learned  else where.

Except my friends.

(RoVent 2008, left to right Jeff, Kit, Me, Christina and Adam. We purposely made it harder, if you’ll notice, we’re all in the air)

I was not a popular kid in high school, and up until my graduation, I had very few people in my life that knew when my birthday was or more importantly cared. However, going to Venturer and Rover social camps around Vancouver, I met some fantastic people, and then got to know them at these camps every four months or so. At PJ 2003, I met one of my best friends in the world and cemented friendships and relationships far in to the future. When it came time to move out from my parents, I moved into a house full of Rovers, friends from Richmond, Ladner and North Vancouver. None of whom where in my group in Vancouver, and none I would have met outside of Scouting.

Scouting’s life skills have had a lasting impact on my skill set and way of life, but my friends are my moral compass and grounding rod for my life. I might have compass and map in my bag, but without my friends,who I met through Scouts, I’d be lost.

-Mark Burge
1st South Vancouver Crew
East Vancouver Area
Pacific Coast Council

A Rover’s Log – Mark’s Trip to the Britishland

A Treat

The one unique badge that Rovers in Canada can earn is the Rambler Badge. The requirements can be simply summed up as visiting Scouting members in a foreign country and reporting back on your experiences.

Below is a submission by Mark Burge, a fellow Rover and friend of mine. More of Mark’s pictures from his adventure can be found by clicking his picture of the giant Fleur de Lis below.

My hope is to have more contributors moving forward. (Hint hint) Consider this the first of many.



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