The 2nd Airdrie Scouts are still searching for a new permanent home after their beloved hall was decommissioned in the summer.
The troop, which includes members from roughly 80 families in Airdrie and area, used to meet at the Airdrie Scout Hall near East Lake Regional Park. However, the 40-year old building, which was owned by the City of Airdrie, was removed in July due to various structural issues.
Keith Yeoman, a senior scout leader, said the chance of finding a new headquarters as good as the Airdrie Scout Hall is slim. He said the scouts had used the hall as their home base since 1986.
“That will never happen again, unless we find someone who really enjoyed scouting when they were a youth, or enjoys it now, to donate something,” he said.
“To find something like that again will be really hard.”
Throughout the summer and fall, Yeoman said the scouts held their weekly meetings at Chinook Winds Regional Park, until the days were too short and the weather was too cold to do so. Scouts, who are divided into groups based on age, learn many different outdoor-related skills, such as starting fires, navigating and knot-tying.
Due to the social nature of their activities, the 2nd Airdrie Scouts were among the many youth organizations impacted by the Alberta government’s Nov. 24 restrictions, which included a ban on social gatherings. Since that announcement, Yeoman said the scouts have returned to meeting virtually, as they did during the first wave of the pandemic, using webcam technologies and software like Zoom.
“We’re trying to give the kids something to look forward to every week – some kind of normalcy because so much has been taken away from them,” Yeoman said. “They can’t play hockey, they’re quarantining and everything, so we’re trying to do as much as we can with the kids.”
While the online sessions are not as ideal as meeting in person, he said Scouts Canada has developed some activities the scouts can still do virtually or on their own.
“We go over badges with the kids and kind of give them assignments to complete by the next meeting,” he said. “We check in with them and they can show what they completed and their requirements for the badge.”
Along with losing their facility and not being able to meet in person, Yeoman said the scouts have also struggled with fundraising in recent months.
“We can’t do any in-person fundraising currently,” he said. “Not that we have a lot of expenses, because we can’t meet in person right now, but there’s no fundraising we can do. We did do scouts coffee, which was all online purchases and then it got shipped to people’s houses, but there’s virtually been no fundraising.”
He added losing the hall also resulted in a considerable revenue loss, in the form of no longer having a bottle-drop shed in front of the building. He said residents used to be able to drop off their empties in the shed and the scouts could return them at the bottle depot for the deposit.
“That was a big kick in the pants, to not have that,” he said, adding the income from bottle returns helped subsidize scout programming.
“Hopefully, when things get back, we still want to have a good, affordable program for the kids. That’s all we try to provide – something that everybody can afford. It’s tough right now.”
Yeoman said one thing he takes solace in is the fact the scout hall was not torn down or demolished. Instead, he said the building was lifted off its foundation and transported to Stavely, Alta.
“Hopefully it’s another group like the scouts who are utilizing it,” he said. “It’s good it was repurposed and not torn down.”