Weewaas and Woggles: Scouting, Canadian-Style

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    At the Expo Youth Conference, or wherever youth of the Church gather, the young men of Aaronic Priesthood age will talk about their adventures in Scouting. It’s no different in British Columbia, where members of the Fifth East Whalley/Guildford Venturer Company (sponsored by the Surrey First Ward) pointed out some differences between Scouting, Canadian-Style, and Scouting elsewhere.

    Consider, for example, vocabulary:

    “These are called badges, not patches. Patches are things you put on your knees to cover holes. And this is a woggle, not a neckerchief slide,” explained Layne Clarke, 16.

    Or listen to one of the cheers dear to the heart of the company: “Ahhhhhhhhh … ahhhhhhhhh … ahhhhhhhhh … GOINT!!!” What does it mean? Nobody seems quite sure.

    Or get the Venturer leader, Brother Rick Molnar, slightly frustrated with his young men, and you’re sure to hear him admonish: “Don’t be a bunch of weewaas.” What is a weewaa? Nobody seems to know that one either, but the context makes it fairly clear.

    These Venturers also feel that those from other climates have strange ideas about Canada: “We don’t live in igloos or drive dog sleds,” said Gordon Manson, 16. “It’s not a sheet of ice the minute you cross the 49th parallel. We get suntans up here. We even go to the beach.”

    And, of course, Canadian Scouting involves its own structure of organization, rank, and advancement: Following Beaver Scout and Cub Scout programs, Canadians start in Scouting at age 12. Organized in troops, they first work to obtain their B. P. Woodsman Award (the B. P. is for Baden-Powell, the man who founded Scouting), then refine their skills as they advance from Bronze to Silver to Gold Level. As a Gold Level Scout, they work on service and community involvement activities, and eventually earn their Chief Scout Award.

    At age 15, they move into the Venture Program, organized in groups called companies (roughly equivalent to a Varsity Scout Team in the United States). “The Venture Program is very outdoor oriented, and the boys become more involved in planning things for themselves,” Brother Molnar said.

    A Venturer may work in one of three areas: the Venturer Award, the Outdoorsman Award, or the Duke of Edinburgh Award. All three awards carry equal status. It takes six badges to qualify for the Venturer Award: service, fitness, social and cultural, exploration, personal interest, and vocational awareness. To become an Outdoorsman takes 40 camping nights, tests of skill, and a survival camp. Some companies specialize as outdoor companies. The Duke of Edinburgh Award is set up with the community and stresses physical education, outdoor activities, service, and personal development.

    “All of the awards have a common goal,” Ken Whitesell, 18, explains. “That is to develop a well-rounded person.”

    Once one of those three awards has been earned, a Venturer may work toward the top award in Canadian Scouting, the Queen’s Venturer Award. It requires a high level of first-aid proficiency, qualification in a major service skill such as lifesaving or mountain rescue, time spent helping a Cub or Scout group, community service, journal keeping, and service as an executive member of the company (such as president or vice-president) so that the Venturer learns about leadership and decision-making.

    Whatever the differences may be, though, there are some common bonds. Anywhere young men are involved in Scouting, they learn about service to God and their fellowmen. They learn about setting goals and working toward them. They learn about leadership and about setting a good example. And in the case of LDS Scouts, they seem to also learn to stand out in a crowd.

    “We started a tradition in our ward of helping each young man achieve his ‘triple crown’: Chief Scout Award, Queen’s Venturer Award, and full-time missionary,” Brother Molnar said. “One young man, Gordon Mitchell, got the ball rolling by doing a lot of things on his own. He persisted until he became the first young man in our ward to earn his Queen’s Venturer Award. He is now attending Brigham Young University, ready to go on his mission when he turns 19.

    “His example encouraged his peers to strive for their ‘triple crown’ too. This year, our ward had six young men earn their Queen’s Venturer Award. This is an outstanding number for any one group, as there were only 33 recipients out of about 1,200 Venturers in the B.C.–Yukon Area. And, incidentally, out of the 33 recipients, 11 were Latter-day Saints.” Brother Molnar says he expects all seven of his Queen’s Venturers to go on missions.

    Seven out of seven. Now that’s a record anyone in Scouting should understand.

    [photos] Photography by Richard M. Romney