Among my favorite childhood memories while growing up as a young duffer in Ponoka was getting to join the First Ponoka Cub Pack, attending my first meeting with my parents at the big Cub and Scout Hall in the Central Playground, and the joy of receiving my very first uniform, which included a dark green shirt and hat and a yellow scarf. This great year round adventure for town and district boys from 7 to 14 years of age was an amazing opportunity, as we played lots of neat outdoor games, worked our way through the badge programs, went on our first over-night camping trips without parents, and learned to respect nature in all its finest. We also looked forward to attending the Father and Son banquets, learned how to carve our own whistles and woggles, and made so many lifelong friendships along the way, including rubbing shoulders with the young ladies from the local Brownies and Guides.
It was Lord Robert Baden Powell who started the ‘Scouting Movement’ in England in 1907 by bringing 22 boys together from different parts of society, wrote the book ‘Scouting for Boys’ in 1908, added a Cub section in 1916, and vigorously began spearheading the formation of Cub/Scout troops and training new leaders throughout the world. The First World Scout Jamboree was held in England in 1920, where Baden Powell was named as ‘Chief Scout of the World’, and played host to 8,000 Scouts from 34 countries, which would be the humble beginnings of the proud tradition of ‘Scouting’ as it grew rapidly and has fulfilled the childhood dreams of millions of young lads for over a century.
The history of Scouting in Ponoka and districts
Our history books tell us that the first Boy Scout troop in Ponoka was formed in 1911 under the direction of Bill Kennedy, Tom McKelvey, and Leader the Reverend Dallas. Some of the boys wore military style uniforms and hats similar to those worn by the North West Mounted Police, with some showing off hatchets carved out of wood.
Going into the 1950s the scouting program in Ponoka and districts was growing by leaps and bounds and included 40 scouts, two packs of cubs (80), and eight new Rovers in the final phase of the popular international youth program. Many willing volunteer leaders throughout the Town and County districts became involved in the progressive training programs, while the Parent Group were very active and the community always supportive of the local Scouting movement. 1957 would be a banner year for the Ponoka Scouting Movement when three of the members were honoured as Queen Scouts, while 21 area lads graduated from the Bronze Medal Arrow Course, and Ponoka Scout leader William Savage was named as the Central Alberta Commissioner of the Diamond Willow Scout District, and would be assisted by QS Gordon Stretch. The Ponoka group was later represented by two Scouts and a Rover at the World Jamboree in England, and summer activities included many of the Cub/Scout and Rover pack camping in the Mountains west of Nordegg or at Camp Woods Sylvan Lake. As the Scouting Movement continued to grow in Ponoka the local Kinsmen realized the need for a new hall, and responded in the 1980’s with the present spacious facility in the Riverside District, which can also be available to rent for other group events throughout the year.
The present 1st Ponoka Parent Group is a volunteer organization dedicated to the caring of our local Scouting program, which includes Beavers (5 to 7 years old), Cub/Scouts (8-10 years), and Scouts (11-13 years), all under the direction, regulations, and safety standards of Scouts Canada. Unfortunately the Ponoka Parent group are currently faced with a number of issues, including a drop in member registration, and the discontinuation of the 14-17 year old Venturer Company due to a lack of group leaders and volunteers. Currently only a few very dedicated volunteers have been working very hard to keep the programs going, and these include Scouters Matt Whipps and Sara Hogan in the Scout section, Scouters Maurice Mazurat and Donna Neilson in the Cub group, and Scouter Ann Marie Mazurat and Jennifer Hoffman with the Beavers, with Lisa Brehans and Dionna Haakason always busy on the group committee.
Maurice Mazurat, who has been involved in all capacities of the Scouting leadership programs for 26 years explained that a lack of funding has also been a problem for the local movement for several years, but that they have been most appreciative of the kind support of the Kinsmen, the F.C.S.S., local businesses, and the community for helping to keep them going. Many new plans are being made for the upcoming year, including a Klondike Derby, but more leaders and volunteers will be needed to assure that this vital and traditional youth program will continue to remain active and successful in our community long into the future. If you are interested or have questions please call Maurice at 403-783-0703 or email email@example.com, and don’t forget to bring your young lads down to the Scout Hall on Thursday-August 18th for pre-registration and information.