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Airdrie kids participate in nation’s largest scouting event

By: Kristen Spruit

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jul 11, 2013 11:18 am

Ten members of the 1st Airdrie Scouts - including Clayton Macleod (left), Andrew Melissen, Kendra Van Dewark (right) and their leader, John Melissen - pitched their tents among 6,500 youth from across Canada, the United States and Taiwan for a week of learning, fun and outdoor activities.
Ten members of the 1st Airdrie Scouts - including Clayton Macleod (left), Andrew Melissen, Kendra Van Dewark (right) and their leader, John Melissen - pitched their tents among 6,500 youth from across Canada, the United States and Taiwan for a week of learning, fun and outdoor activities.
KRISTEN SPRUIT/Rocky View Publishing

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Airdrie Scouts were among the 6,500 nature lovers from across North America who descended on Sylvan Lake July 6 to 13 for the nation’s largest scouting event.

The 12th Canadian Scout Jamboree (CSJ), held this year at Camp Woods on Sylvan Lake, brought together 5,000 scouts - ages 11 to 14 - and their leaders, as well as 1,500 Ventures, Rovers and adult volunteers to help run the event.

The jamboree is held in different locations across Canada every three or four years and was back in Alberta for the third time since its inception in 1949. The fifth and eighth CSJ’s were held in Kananaskis, Alberta in 1981 and 1993 respectively, and had a combined total of more than 30,000 participants.

“There is nothing like this. It is a one-of-a-kind experience where youth get to create a love of the outdoors, and learn and grow as an individual. Coming to this event, I think one of the biggest things you get, besides the fun, is the friendship and sense of community. You’re going to make friends from the other side of the country and the other side of the world,” said National Youth Commissioner for Scouts Canada Kaylee Galipeau.

Resembling a small city, the camp grounds were filled with youth dashing between their camp sites and scheduled events like white-water rafting, rock-climbing, zip-lining, hiking and sailing, centered around this year’s dinosaur theme.

Airdrie scout Andrew Melissen, 13, said apart from the performance by the band Arrogant Worms - a youth folk band - on opening night, one of his favourite activities was badge-trading.

“It’s so much fun. You just try to collect badges you like from other provinces and cities and different councils,” said Melissen, showing off his bag of badges he collected which he’ll sew onto a campfire blanket.

He added he chose to design a badge for the Chinook Council of Scouts, which encompasses all the scout groups in Southern Alberta. The badge has two pieces that fit together as one unit that Airdrie scouts were trading over the course of the week.

“It’s another way to meet kids and see who has cool badges you want to have too,” he said.

Melissen explained that during a typical day at the camp, scouts wake up at 7 a.m. to cook breakfast at their camp site and prepare a bag lunch. Then they participate in scheduled activities until 6:30 p.m. when they return to their camp site for dinner and free time in the evening.

Equally as excited about participating in the event was Melissen’s dad and six-year scout leader John.

“The thing I like about it the most is just the exposure Scouts gives the kids to a broad range of activities. Sports is great, but it exposes the kids to one activity. Scouting, they can try many different things, whether it’s education or science or outdoors like hiking and backpacking,” he said.

The 1st Airdrie Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Ventures is a non-profit organization for boys and girls ages five to 18 that meets weekly to learn a variety of life and outdoor-skills activities.

John added the Scouts were responsible for fundraising half of the $650 registration fee for the jamboree, which they did mainly through bottle drives. The fee covers the cost of food, programming, use of the site, and Jamboree services such as security, medical facilities and transportation to the nearest airport for participants that didn’t drive.

Kendra Van Dewark, 12, and Clayton Macloed, 12, agreed the World Scout Jamboree is already in the back of their minds.

“(The most exciting part) is we get to go to Japan,” said Andrew Melissen.

The 23rd World Scout Jamboree will be held from July 28 to Aug. 3, 2015 in Yamaguchi City, Japan.


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