Earle Belfry grew up in Bradford. His family was among the first to settle in the area, on the 8th Line and near Scanlon Creek, in the early 1800s.
He attended school in Bradford, including the old Bradford High School.
And for many in the community, Belfry was for years the face of Scouting.
“I started when my son was in Cubs,” Belfry said. His son is now 52 years old.
He first volunteered as a parent helper, but soon become a Cub Leader with First Bradford Scouts, a position he filled for eight years. At the time, Belfry remembers, “there were no Beavers, no Venturers” in Scouting.
Belfry helped introduce both programs to the Bradford area, and led the Venturers - a program for youth ages 15 to 17, that encourages teens to “explore their potential” and experience the world - for several years.
Over the decades, he has served in other capacities – serving on Group Committee, and even heading up a local contingent attending the 1986 Jamboree in Australia.
That was a major adventure, leading to some life-long friendships. Belfry and the kids – from Bradford, Aurora, Stouffville and surrounding areas - spent three weeks Down Under. When not at the Jamboree, they lodged with local families through the “home hospitality” program.
“I’m still in touch with the woman we stayed with,” Belfry said. “Basically, friends for life.”
Even after moving to Sandy Cove Acres adult lifestyle community in Innisfil, 20 years ago, Belfry remained involved in First Bradford Scouting – and Scouting in general. Much of his work in recent years has been behind the scenes, serving in administrative capacities such as Area Registrar, connecting people, and encouraging others to step up and volunteer.
When he finally retired from Scouting at the end of August this year, Belfry had contributed 43 years to the organization.
Why did he stick with Scouts for so many years, and put in so many hours? “The camaraderie,” he said with a smile. “Lots of good friends in Scouting.”