In the Spring semester of last year I found myself madly searching for volunteer experiences within the community - it seemed that all of the volunteer opportunities that interested me had had their deadlines past, or had been snatched up by others eager to donate their time. After several hours, I came across one organization that still had spots available, and that was surprisingly close to the SFU Burnaby campus. I immediately applied for the position and within the next week I found myself a member of the Scouts Canada team. More specifically, I was a youth activity coordinator, in a program known as Scoutsabo
Although I had heard of the organization previously, I was unsure of Scouts Canada’s exact purpose. I soon discovered that Scouts Canada offers a variety of programs for youth ages 5 to 17, and even has a program for young adults aged 18 to 26. Their focus is on encouraging Canada's youngest citizens to explore the outdoors, while educating them on the country's environment. As a youth activity coordinator, it was my job to represent the organization's values for the children.
The Scoutsabout program that I volunteered for was an after-school program for youth ages 5 to 10, which ran at University Highlands Elementary School – a short walk down the street from SFU’s Burnaby campus. It was my duty to assist a Community Development Worker with running each session by monitoring the children, leading them with group crafts, games, and other outdoor activities, if the weather allowed. Most importantly, my position made me a role model. I found that as the children became more comfortable, they would turn to me and other leaders for assistance.
Truly, this is the optimal volunteer experience for any university student planning to pursue a career that involves children, especially education, as this gives you a genuine teaching experience. Throughout the course of the program you are given many chances to interact with those who attend Scoutsabout, and depending on your comfort level, you may lead them in as little or as many activities as you wish. For those who have not worked with youth before, this experience may also cause them to give more recognition to the younger members of our society.
Having this opportunity so close to SFU was definitely an asset yet, the program is not limited to Burnaby Mountain. There are a wide variety of other elementary schools in the lower mainland which offer the after school program once a week, as well as during the lunch hour.
If you want to surround yourself with the enthusiastic and high spirits of children from your local community look no further, and contact your local council to find the closest program to you!