BY EVAN BUHLER
Red Deer Express
On April 28, five Venturer Scouts from the Red Deer 18th Morrisroe Scouts received the bronze level – Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, presented by Mayor Morris Flewwelling.
“I felt very honoured and proud of myself and my friends to receive the award from the mayor. Not many people can say they have this award,” said Shaye Blanke.
“The Duke is an award program that they enrolled in, and the program set out requirements that they needed to achieve in order to receive this award,” said Bruce Schollie, who suggested the idea to the scouts. “They were all pretty gung-ho.”
From September 2012 until early April, Shaye Blanke, Heather Mast, Cody Richards, Evan Schollie and Sarah McBain completed tasks in four program areas, which included community service, skill development, physical recreation and an adventurous journey.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was established in 1956. Founded by His Royal Highness The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, the award encourages young people aged 14-25 to improve their citizenship development and community involvement.
“They are typically kids that are involved in some kind of program like scouts or cadets,” said Schollie.
Once they were registered for the Duke, they all received a record book to log their hours and achievements towards the award, which would be signed off by assessor.
Schollie is a firm believer that the Duke Award’s values share a close relationship with the Scouts’ own strong beliefs.
“The program is a voluntary activity which encourages personal discovery and growth, self-reliance, perseverance, responsibility to themselves and service to the community, all of those things contribute to making a well-rounded citizen, which is what scouts is all about,” said Schollie.
The five scouts easily exceeded the required 15 hours of community service over a six-month period, volunteering at a shoreline cleanup of Sylvan Lake, running programs for the Beaver Scouts and wrapping Christmas gifts for the Central Alberta Women’s Outreach Society.
The skill development program tested the Scouts’ new and or previous talents that they could improve on, or helped them discover a new one.
“Heather used her music, playing the French horn; Evan, my son used the baritone which he plays in his school band. Shaye used advanced first-aid training, Cody used geo-caching using a GPS and Sarah learned the Japanese language,” Schollie said.
Throughout 15 weeks within the six months to complete the award the scouts hiked, mountain climbed, caved, and skied their way to completing the physical recreation program, which required 30 hours of physical activity.
Schollie believes that the program in which the scouts had the most fun was the two day backpacking and camping trip to the Cline River near Abraham Lake, about 40km southwest of Nordegg.
“It was really fun to go camping, and to be out in nature with my friends was really nice,” said Blanke.
Participating with the five scouts was Caesar Lara, who moved to Red Deer from Venezuela where he was also in the Scouts. However, because Lara joined after the start of the program, he was unable to be recognized by the Duke of Edinburgh alongside his friends.
The Duke Award is currently operational in more than 130 countries around the world.