With a garbage bag in one hand, a shovel in the other, and a willingness to volunteer with a load of determination, Tristan Flaathen is making his way up the Canadian Path in achieving his Top Section Award. The recently-turned 15-year-old Venturer with Edmonton’s 26th St. Peter’s Scout group has not only been involved in a number of volunteer projects that better serve his community, he has taken on a youth leadership role.
Tristan helped organize members of his troop in participating in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. The cleanup took place on the second week of May around a large area of Emily Murphy Park on the North Saskatchewan River which was part of Tristan’s capstone project in achieving his Chief Scouts Award.
“We collected quite a few garbage bags [-worth of trash]. The portion of the group I worked with picked up a lot of newspapers, quite a bit of plastic, and candy bar wrappers,” says Tristan, adding he plans to take part in the national conservation program again. “I got a good feeling of accomplishment from it.”
Tristan is grateful for the support he has received from 26th St. Peter’s Scout leaders Lisa Schuppli and Pearse Mckinney. Schuppli, in particular, has supported Tristan on a number of his projects and says he is always willing to take up volunteer opportunities with his youth group.
“We just basically stand alongside him. Tristan is a wonderful young man and has done a lot of volunteer work outside of his capstone project. All we really have to do is support any of the little things that he needs and answer any questions he may have,” she says.
Mckinney, who has been involved with the Scouts since he was eight years old and went through the program as a Cub, Scout and Venturer before becoming a volunteer leader, says he knows first-hand what the impact of volunteering can have on youth.
“I think the mission of the Scouts is important in that it provides youth with the tools they need to be become better citizens,” he says. “I love teaching youth new things and watching them develop confidence and leadership skills. I am looking forward to seeing what kind of people that they become.”
When not cleaning up shorelines, Tristan and his fellow troop members also help the Westmount Community League set up its community garden.
This year, the Scouts helped renovate the community vegetable garden that Westmount community members use to grow food and connect with the community.
“I had the privilege of working beside the 26th St. Peter’s Scouts during the renovations,” says John Lange, Westmount Vegetable Garden coordinator. “They helped put dirt into the raised beds and also gathered multiple bags of leaves to put into the beds as mulch. They tackled each task with enthusiasm and high energy. They did an incredibly great job and I could see the pride in their faces when they were done.”
Lange also notes that the adult volunteers did an amazing job in organizing troop members.
“I have very high praise for this fine young group of Scouts. I can't thank them enough for their contribution to the renovations to the garden and look forward to working with them again,” he says.
Tristan and his fellow 26th St. Peter’s Scout members have also assisted in cleaning up Commonwealth Stadium after Edmonton Eskimo home games as well as helping put on a year-end preschool party at Westmount Discovery Time Preschool in Edmonton.
“I like making connections by volunteering. I have also made a lot of friends through the Scouts,” says Tristan.
“As a volunteer it makes me feel really proud to see the next generation giving back to the community the way they have been,” adds Schuppli. “There’s amazing leadership within the group and as a group as a whole, and that in turn promotes an atmosphere the kids want to be in. Our Scouts give back to the community without a second thought.”
Read what other volunteer activities some of our Scouts and Scouters have been involved with in our News and Events.
The Northern Lights Council, serving Northwest Territories and Central-Northern Alberta, carries out Scouts Canada’s mission in preparing youth to make the world a better place. Visit us to find a Scout group near you and see how you can support our programs and Scout activities as a volunteer.