July 8, 2020

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Opinion

Scouts honour

St. James couple honoured for over 20 years of service

A St. James couple who has volunteered with Scouts Canada for more than 20 years is being lauded with the mayor’s volunteer service award.

Will and Candace Huggard will receive the recognition as part of the 37th annual Volunteer Awards presented by Volunteer Manitoba and Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries.

Will and Candace Huggard met as teenagers while volunteering and even had a scouting-themed wedding. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Will and Candace Huggard met as teenagers while volunteering and even had a scouting-themed wedding. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Huggards, both 39, have volunteered with the 1st Crestview Scout Group since they were teenagers.

"It’s kind of weird," Will says about the recognition. "There are so many amazing people in scouting in our group and across the country that we’ve volunteered with. I think on behalf of all of them, it’s great that any Scouter gets recognized for their efforts. We appreciate it."

The 1st Crestview Scout Group aims to give young people a taste of adventure, outdoor experience, friendship and leadership skills.

The group has been a chartered member of Scouts Canada, a co-ed organization, for more than 50 years.

The Crestview group includes 85 youth in three age categories: Beavers (ages 5-7), Cubs (ages 8-10) and Scouts (ages 11-14).

Youth participate in a variety of activities, many of them outdoors, and earn personal achievement badges.

Candace is the head leader of a Beaver group, while Will is the head leader of a Cub group. He also serves as group commissioner.

"Watching young people develop and grow and gain that confidence in themselves is what keeps me coming back," Candace says.

"They come into our program and often, they’ve never spent a night away from home," Will adds. "We take them camping and they become pros at setting up tents and have no problems being away from their parents. It’s just a really rewarding experience for everyone involved."

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has put an end to in-person Scout gatherings, Will and Candace have met with their groups online to keep the youth motivated and involved.

"It’s certainly been challenging, especially for an outdoor program, to not see them (in person)," Candace says. "It’s been a different sort of take on what our values are within scouting."

The couple met in Scouts and got married in Scouts, they even had a wedding badge made up for the occasion. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

The couple met in Scouts and got married in Scouts, they even had a wedding badge made up for the occasion. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

The couple looks forward to getting together with the young people again.

The Crestview group is significant for Will because it’s the group he grew up in.

He joined at the age of five and worked his way through Beavers, Cubs and Scouts before becoming a volunteer leader at the age of 16.

Meanwhile, Candace grew up in Girl Guides and joined the Crestview group as a leader in 1998.

The couple met as teenagers while volunteering and even had a scouting-themed wedding.

As a keepsake, the Huggards’ wedding guests received a special badge they had made up that featured hearts, their names and the date.

The couple’s three children, Taylor, 15, Racheal, 12, and Brian, 7, have all participated in scouting.

"Watching them grow up in scouting has definitely been rewarding, and having them in the same group I was in as a kid is very special," Will says.

Anyone interested in volunteering with Scouts Canada can visit scouts.ca/volunteer.

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

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