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Shortage of Scout Group Volunteers in Acton puts Kids on a Waiting List

Every service organization that relies on volunteers is experiencing a persistent shortage since the COVID shutdown. But the dearth is particularly acute in the Beavers and Cubs at the First Acton Scout Group. Mandi Townsend a group leader with the Beavers thinks the shortfall is profound. “We love all the kids who come and hang out with us, but sometimes we have to put them on a waiting list because we don't have the coverage.”


Scouts Canada sets a ratio of the number of youths per leader in each division. In the case of the Beavers (ages 5-8), that works out to at least one leader per eight youths. “We are currently running at a bare minimum and there is a waiting list for each section,” said Townsend. “If you don't have enough leaders you can't run a program.”


David Barker has been a Scout leader with the First Acton Scouts. “Usually we don't have enough youth, but lately it's been a volunteer shortage. We know people are struggling and looking for places to put their kids. But we can work together, and we don't want our current volunteers to burn out either. Some of our volunteers are doing double and triple-duty.”



Barker points out that Scouts Canada has some strict guidelines for leaders that involve background checks plus an interview, as well as some on line-training. “But there are many ways to volunteer. For instance, we have parent volunteers, and different levels of training are offered in order to become a full leader,” he said.


“Everybody brings a way different skill set and strength to Scouts,” added Townsend. “We're looking for anyone who is super into out door stuff like camping, or someone that specializes in arts and crafts, there is a lot of interest in this kind of thing. We would love anybody to come and join us, it is a super fun thing to do.  If we had more scouters we could have more youth join.”


Scouting in Acton is almost as old as the organization itself. Scouting began in 1907 and the first group was started in Acton in 1910. Membership in the First Acton Scouts Group is also open to youths from other areas. Some of the Cubs and Beavers come from Georgetown and Rockwood to take part in programs at the Acton Scout Hall on School House Lane.



Ironically some people still refer to the members as “Boy Scouts”, whereas Scouts Canada has been co-ed officially since the early 1990s. “Girls are definitely involved in the programs,” according to Townsend. “It's not quite half, but we have a ton of girls in Beaver Scouts.”


Acton's Beavers, Cubs and Scouts take part in a number of interesting and educational activities from  curling to camping. “The Town of Acton and local businesses have been incredibly supportive. Recently we've toured Superior Glove and made Space Skittles at 70 Below. We've also been to Zapa Projects, Twice the Deal Pizza and Cardinal Farms,” said Townsend.


“Volunteers can come from anywhere. We have one grandpa who comes every week. Another lady who has a rock and fossil collection has been in a couple of times. We're always looking for people who have unique hobbies,” she said.



“We are running at the bare minimum of volunteers but have no plans to close the group,” added Barker. “We could just use some help.”


Those interested in making a difference in the lives of Acton's youth and contributing to the storied history of the First Acton Scout Group are encouraged to step forward. For more information on how to become a volunteer, visit Scouts.ca/volunteer or contact the group via email at hendersongeorge@hotmail.com. The opportunity to impact the community positively and ensure the continued success of Scouting in Acton is just an application away.



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