Scouts don’t need an excuse to help others. They regularly make that promise out loud, whether they be Beaver, Cub, Venturer or Rover.
During Good Turn Week (April 13-21) upwards of 72,000 youth members and 27,000 volunteers of Scouts Canada will not only be putting that promise on their wrists in the form of a rubber bracelet, but handing those bracelets over to those they help and asking them to do the same for others.
"It’s a huge part of our culture," said Ryan Lucenkiw, Manitoba’s council youth commissioner, at Sansome School last Wednesday.
"I think that this is just a week we’re choosing to share our culture with the rest of Canada."
Lucenkiw, 22, was joined by about 25 Cub (eight to 10 years old) and Beaver (five to seven years old) Scouts in the Sansome School gym for a 1st Kirkfield Scouting Group meeting last week.
A tent was pitched, "Kub Kars" were drilled and hammered on, and food was put in a bin for Winnipeg Harvest (part of that ‘helping others’ promise).
Conspicuous amongst all the action were the newly-issued red rubber bracelets the youth toyed with absent-mindedly, perhaps lamenting their inevitable loss.
"The younger ones, none of them want to give them away," said Dean Parsons, commissioner for the 1st Kirkfield Scouting Group.
The idea, Parsons explained, is for the bracelet owner to give it to the recipient of their good turn, who will then do the same for someone else. The doer of the good turn then shares what they did via texting or on Facebook, Twitter, or the Scouts Canada website (www.scouts.ca/goodturn).
Parsons said he wasn’t advertising it, but told The Metro he would take pity the following week to any youth that had given up their good turn bracelets.
"Tonight they got bracelets and next week, if they’ve given it away, they get another."
Cub Benjamin Normandeau, 9, said he had an idea for helping a fellow Sansome student who is disabled.
"I was thinking I could help her next week by kicking the rocks off the (wheelchair) ramp…it sometimes gets rocks on it."
Normandeau, who sports an armful of Cub Scout badges, was a Beaver before his two-year stint as a Cub began. He cited the Cub’s promise to "do a good turn every day."
Good turn suggestions from Scouts Canada include donating to charity, helping neighbours, volunteering for a food bank, and visiting residents of a nursing home.
Donna Welch said she might tap into her math skills.
"My friends, they sometimes have trouble in math. I think I can help them out," nine-year-old Welch said, adding she’s third in her class.
Venturer Scout Sydney Puttenham, 14, said she donated her hair for a cancer wig last year. This year her hair’s not long enough, but she’s undeterred.
"I will be shaving all my hair off for CancerCare," said the 14-year-old Westwood Collegiate student.
Lucenkiw, who started in scouting 17 years ago as a Beaver, said the online tracking of good turns and the pay-it-forward nature of the bracelets makes for an interesting week.
"Last year they actually found one showing up in Japan."