Scouter Martin Poulsen isn’t afraid of much – except his former pack leader.
After hibernating for 30 years, Poulsen returned to Scouts when his middle son Emmett joined the Bradford Beaver pack.
Poulsen figured he’d volunteer an hour per week and that would be a nice way to spend time with his son. However, part of the ceremony when you are welcomed into the Scouts or are ‘invested’ involves the presentation of a kerchief.
A life-long Bradford resident, Poulsen was stunned when his former leader, Akela Tanya Lefler made the presentation.
“It was amazing, I had no idea,” Poulsen said. “She said when I was a Cub, I was really lazy because I didn’t earn any badges.”
Poulsen laughs at the jibe, admitting he was more interested in play than hard work at that point in his life.
Lefler says when she heard her former Cub was volunteering, she gladly offered to give him his new scarf.
“I got to say to him, ‘What are you doing here? You did nothing as a Cub’,” she said with a laugh. “When I came out and surprised him with the scarf, I said, ‘So you were afraid of me, huh?’”
Now a mechanical engineer with his own company, Poulsen has become more involved with Scouting, helping with a dozen Scouts on Tuesday nights and another 16 Cubs on Wednesdays,
Nowadays, he said the Scout leaders are simply called Scouters, and the group projects are chosen by the children rather than the leader.
“They’ll come up with stuff to do like campfires, cook different things, go fishing, go swimming or tubing or sledding,” he said.
The younger children in Kindergarten and Grades 1 and 2 are encouraged to help start the fire and roast marshmallows and enjoy the same activities with less responsibility.
“The Scouts get to do axe throwing – it’s not dangerous if it’s done correctly. The younger ones are also involved with the older Scouts when playing a group Minecraft game online.”
Poulsen said he got involved to support his son but found friends in working with the other volunteers.
“I’m not skilled at much of this stuff, like putting up tents – we were not outdoorsy people – but they taught me how to do all the things,” he said.
He said he is also impressed with how kind the young Cubs and Scouts are, the group is very inclusive of children with special needs and doesn’t exclude anybody from play.
In pre-COVID days, the packs met at local schools, however, since the pandemic shuttered schools, both the Bradford Community Church and Royal Canadian Legion Branch 521 have opened their doors to allow the children a place to meet.
Poulsen says volunteers are needed to help run the younger Beavers club that his four-year-old daughter wants to join as soon as she’s able.
“The little ones are so cute and so nice. We need women or men over the age of 18 to help. They don’t need a lot of experience. Just show up, we’ll help.”