Paddle Canada & Scouting
Alan Aslett, Director of Brownsea Base
Activities on the water have been a part of Scouting from the beginning. Two longstanding programs in Southern Ontario are Brownsea Base (www.brownseabase.ca) started in 1966 in Peterborough, and the South Lake Simcoe (SLS) Algonquin Canoe Camps (www.slsareascouts.org/sls-algonquin-wilderness-camps.html), started in the 1980s. The Brownsea Base program runs mid-June to mid-August every Summer, teaching canoeing, kayaking and sailing! It runs 2 evenings a week plus weekend camps. The SLS Algonquin Canoe Camps run for a week in August every Summer, teaching canoe skills & tripping!
In 2015, Mark Hayes of SLS and I started talking about training for our canoe tripping Scouters. In the 1980s & 90s we trained Scouters together using the then Ontario Scouting based Water Charge / On-the-Water Program. When that was discontinued in the 1990s we continued the training informally. Two years ago we started looking at the process again. Noting the Canadian Path Paddling Skills emphasis on Paddle Canada, we tried to find out what was set up for Scouters. Seeing as nothing formal was in place, we looked into setting up what we needed for our two programs. Paddle Canada’s head office in Kingston put us in touch with Jill Baxter of the Bear Creek Outdoor Centre in Renfrew.
Jill was very interested to talk with us about our Programs and what we were after. Though each of our experienced Scouters could have gone through the Paddle Canada program the long way, course by course, step by step, Jill recommended an approach that combined an evaluation of our experience, and upgrading to Paddle Canada training standards. With her help we set up a training trip in May 2016. We ran this in the Algonquin Highlands (out from the old Leslie Frost Centre), also using the facilities and watercraft at the Brownsea Base boathouse in Peterborough. Each of 8 of us participating (4 from Brownsea Base & 4 from South Lake Simcoe) had homework assignments ahead of time, and had lesson assignments during the course.
With this training complete, during 2016 we have successfully trained Youth & Scouters to Paddle Canada’s ‘Introduction Lake Canoe’ and ‘Introduction to Canoe Tripping Skills’ standards, and plan to do more of the same in 2017 & beyond!
We would highly recommend this collaborative approach with Paddle Canada to all Scout Groups and Water Programs!