St Patrick’s Scouts have cubs waiting in the wings, but no-one to lead them.
That’s the reality for St Patrick’s group leader Graham Keep, who is desperate to find more leaders for the organisation.
The group, based in Fleet St in the North End, is one of three scout groups in Oamaru, the others being Columba and Scott’s Own Sea Scouts, based at Awamoa Park and Waterfront Rd respectively.
Between the three groups, there are about 150 active keas, cubs, scouts and venturers in the North Otago area.
Palmerston also has an active group.
Mr Keep said St Patrick’s needed leaders for cubs who will graduate to scouts in a matter of months.
“It’s quite important to keep a scout group going at the North End. The problem is finding leaders.
“We have got keas and cubs, but we haven’t got a scout group. By the end of the year, we should have enough cubs to start a scout group, but no scout leader.”
Mr Keep, who has been involved with scouts for about 45 years, and Beryl Aker have done their best to fill the void in the past, but with a “combined age of 143”, he said new blood needed to be found quickly.
A cub leader and assistant kea leader were also needed.
“Ideally, we want people in that 25 to 40 age bracket. If they have never done it before, that doesn’t really matter; they will get all of the help to get going.
“It can be very rewarding. I still get visits from kids that were in my scout group from the 1970s. I really think scouts does have something to offer and it sets kids up for life.”
If leaders could not be found, the future of the group could be under threat, he said.
“It could fold. In anywhere other than North Otago, it would have folded a year or two ago, but the North Otago zone gave it a bit of a financial injection.
“If it closed down, they would not travel the full length of Oamaru to get to keas and cubs up there.”
Mr Keep recently travelled to Wellington to be presented with his Queen’s Service Medal for services to scouting and the community by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, after being recognised in the 2018 New Year’s honours list.
He said it was a “brilliant” experience.
“It makes you feel pretty good.”
Dame Patsy presented Mr Keep with his medal and praised him for his commitment to the scouting movement.
“She pointed out how important she thought scouts was to young people and told me to never give it up.”