Committed . . . Active and former North Otago Scout members (from left, back) Bill Stanger, Derek Beveridge; (middle) Vic McDonald, Dawn Hill, Rex Hill, Graham Keep, Neville Corry; (front) Moneuan Brady (representing her late husband Tony) and Beryl Aker gather for a photo after being honoured with life memberships last month. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Between them, they have dedicated 373 years to the Scout movement in North Otago.

Last month, Rex Hill (36 years), Bill Stanger (64 years), Derek Beveridge (60 years), Beryl Aker (40 years), the late Tony Brady (70 years), Dawn Hill (23 years), Graham Keep (55 years), and Neville Corry (25 years), were all honoured for their long service to the Scout movement in North Otago, awarded life memberships.

Mr Beveridge said it was special to have so many people, from such a small area, dedicate so many years of volunteer service to the organisation.

The satisfaction of working with younger people was what kept Mr Stanger and Mr Hill involved.

Mr Hill had been involved with Scouts since he was a boy. He left the movement when he was 18 years old to pursue work and travel.

It was not until Oamaru’s Columba Scouts group put out a desperate plea for leaders, as it faced closing down, that he stepped up and joined again.

His biggest motivation was his children – he wanted them to have the opportunity to join Scouts as they got older.

And they did. One of his sons is now a scout leader in Auckland.

Mr Stanger had been involved with Scouts on and off since he was 8 years old.

Sixty-four years later, he could still not pull himself away and now helped with fundraising and transportation.

“I would leave and come back because there was a need,” he said.

For Mr Stanger, the biggest reward was walking down the street and seeing someone who remembered him and said he had a positive impact on their life.

“It’s often the most unlikely person,” Mr Stanger said.

There was no shortage of children interested in Scouts, but adult leaders, to keep things running, were harder to find – and Mr Stanger, Mr Hill and Mr Beveridge all worried about the future of the organisation.

“It’s bloody hard to get out,” Mr Beveridge said.

“You don’t want to see the doors close behind you.”

To be a leader, people had to like working with young people and challenging themselves, Mr Beveridge said. The only other requirements were being over the age of 18, and having a clean record.

As leaders helped the children, they also learned all the new skills, Mr Hill said.

It was about pushing young people outside their comfort zones and seeing them succeed.

“If you want kids to go outside of their comfort zone, you have to go outside your comfort zone too,” Mr Stanger said.