A little bit off the beaten path, a special Scouts fire circle and plaque can be found among the bluffs and natural brush of Beacon Hill Park.
The 2nd Fort Victoria Scout Group celebrates the landmark’s 50th anniversary on Feb. 22 with hot apple juice, songs, skits, stories and of course, a classic Scouting campfire.
Vancouver Island Scouts have been building character and creating memories for more than century, but volunteers say the number of members in the organization has tripled in the last few years, with youth from across south Vancouver Island opting out of screen time in favour of activities such as fire building, rocket launching, outdoor experiences and archery.
“There’s lots of individual leadership development,” says volunteer Danica Gleave. “So the kids really guide the program and lead the program and [there is] tons of connection with nature. It’s time outdoors at a time when kids are so connected to screens.”
|The Scout fire circle in Beacon Hill Park was installed in 1970 to mark 60 years of Scouts in the region. Now, 50 years later, Victoria Scouts will return for a classic campfire. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)|
Volunteer Blair Jensen says he loves spending time with his kids in the Scouts program.
“Whether we take them to a beach, we take them to a park, we take them on a hike, they love this. They just naturally love it,” he says. “They are inquisitive and they are asking great questions and observing and those are things we should be doing with the kids.”
For nine-year-old Lily Casey, making new friends is a highlight.
“I like hanging out with people that don’t go to your school and seeing people you normally don’t get to see” she says.
But as more youngsters sign up, the Scouts find their Victoria facility in need of an update. The group is starting a fundraising campaign to refurbish their Scout Hall.
Group commissioner Stephen Brown says priorities are safety, accessibility and community use.
“Once the access is better [and] the safety is better it will be of better use to the community,” he says.
The Beacon Hill Park Scouts Campfire is Feb. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. The fire circle is in the northwest section of the park and can be found by taking Arbutus Way off of Southgate Street and looking for signage on the right hand side of the road.
The group encourages families and members of the public curious about Scouts to join the festivities, but encourages attendees to dress for the weather and bring their own cup and a camp blanket.
If the weather is bad, the meeting will be held at the 2nd Fort Victoria Scout Group hall located at 459 Chester St.
For more information on Greater Victoria Scouts, visit viscouts.ca.
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