April 25, 2017

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Former Scout plays key volunteer role

Scouts Canada volunteer Geoff L'Heureux enjoys time with son Asher, 8, at a recent Cub-Scout camp.

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Scouts Canada volunteer Geoff L'Heureux enjoys time with son Asher, 8, at a recent Cub-Scout camp.

When his son Asher turned five in 2013, Geoff L’Heureux thought it would be a good idea to enrol the boy in Scouts.

L’Heureux also figured it was a good idea to begin volunteering with the organization.

"I went through (Scouts) when I was a kid and had a lot of fun," L’Heureux says. "So I thought it was a good organization for him to be involved with as well."

For more than 100 years, Scouts Canada has aimed to bring adventure, outdoor experience and friendship to people ranging in age from five to 26.

L’Heureux, 40, currently serves as group commissioner of the 1st John De Graff Scouts group, which includes the three youngest age categories: Beavers, Cubs and Scouts.

As group commissioner, he works to support section leaders, build good programs for children and ensure the programs are fulfilling for everyone involved. L’Heureux is also a Cubs leader, meeting each Wednesday from September to May with kids aged eight to 10.

"I enjoy being involved with the kids," says L’Heureux, an engineer who enjoys engaging with his fellow leaders and trying to build a better program.

"It’s a good program right now," he says, "but (we’re always) trying to find ways to improve it."

As a boy in Edmonton, L’Heureux was in Scouts from the age of five to 14. He remembers learning how to set up camp, make a fire and tie knots. With each achievement, he would earn badges and develop his self-confidence.

Scout leaders have always emphasized doing good in the world, and that message resonated with L’Heureux.

"Values of being respectful to the environment and to other people spoke to me, as well," he says.

"I think that’s something that’s missing a lot these days, and it’s something Scouts offers."

Scouts is an organization where children can come, be themselves and grow as individuals, L’Heureux says.

He’s seen first-hand the impact the program can have. A couple of years ago, he spoke with a mother who enrolled her son in Scouts at the recommendation of a psychologist.

The psychologist suggested joining the group could help the boy, who was shy and had trouble making friends at school.

Sure enough, the boy was soon having fun in Scouts, and it helped improve his school life immensely.

"Everybody wants to have a positive impact, so to get that feedback… was powerful," L’Heureux says.

With more than 1,200 young people enrolled in Scouts in Manitoba alone, volunteers are vital to the organization, says Erika Maguire, who works as one of the organization’s area support managers.

"We’re always welcoming people that are interesting (in volunteering)," she says.

Scouts Canada is looking for enthusiastic, creative, patient people who enjoy the outdoors and have a desire to spend quality time with children to volunteer with its youth program. Training is provided.

Anyone interested can email join@scouts.ca or call 1-888-SCOUTS-NOW.

"We can have a pretty big impact with just that little amount of effort that we put in," L’Heureux says.

If you know a special volunteer, contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.

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