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Getting their fill of the great outdoors

The Elmira Cubs cool off in Algonquin Park after creating a new record of taking 12 camping trips in just one year. [Submitted / Matthew George]

Under a sky full of stars with the campfire flames licking higher than the trees,  the 1st Elmira Scouts’ Cub pack celebrate a new record of completing 12 camping trips within a year. That effort followed a year in which the Cubs were able to get out 10 times, and challenged themselves to do even more.

The goal was set by the Cubs themselves, who asked for more such outings. That was incentive enough for Cub leader Matthew George.

“The whole program is youth-led, so what that means is that at the beginning of the year we ask the youth what they want to do, they come up with different ideas we try to help them make their ideas become reality.”

From September 2018 to August 2019, the Cubs camped once every month.

“It was a big undertaking just because to even get a camp on the calendar in December when most people are having Christmas parties and stuff like that, meanwhile we’re trying to have youth go camping in December,” said George.

“It was an aggressive plan, the reality is we have volunteers such as myself that love to camp and want to help the youth pull this off.”

As a whole, the Cubs accomplished the camping goal, but just two of the pack’s 40 members made it out to all 12 events, along with two leaders. Some of the Cubs don’t attend the camps, and others can’t make it every time, George explained, noting parents’ schedules also come into play.

Each camp is built around a theme that emphasizes fun, but also allows the leaders an opportunity to teach new skills.

“We did a Christmas-themed camp in December, we tented and it was minus-16 degrees outside, but on Saturday morning we woke up and pretended like it was Christmas morning,” George recalled of his most memorable moment from the year.

The Cubs are encouraged to try new and challenging activities each year, which often include first-aid skills, paddling a canoe for the first time, fire lighting, cooking on camp stoves and other outdoor adventures.

“We had uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows and we had to build the tallest tower with them, it was very hard because the spaghetti was frozen so it snapped easily,” said Xavier George, one of the Cubs, on the challenging tasks participants are faced with during these camps.

These important skills are there to teach Scouting members how to take care of themselves but also how to work within a group setting, George says, all while having a lot of fun.

Frederick Hofbauer, one of the two Cubs that participated in all 12 camps, says the experience was enjoyable.

“It was exciting, I like camping. A lot of the places I’ve never been before so that was fun, and I learned how to use an axe, a knife, and how to light a fire.”

Hofbauer and the other Cubs explored different camp sites all-across Ontario, including big provincial parks like Algonquin, where they spent a full week surviving in the wild.

The 1st Elmira Scouts, formed in 1912, are made up of five sections arranged by age: Beavers, Cubs, Scout Troops, Venturers and Rovers. Each group has its own Scouter who is responsible in ensuring that the programs offered meet Scouts Canada’s guidelines and that each section has the right resources to operate effectively.

The Cubs meet on two separate days each week due to the overwhelming amount of kids signed up, deciding and planning the next adventure of the week, after which both groups are welcome to join in on the chosen activity. More information on how to get involved in becoming a Scout or volunteering  with the Scouts can be found online at


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