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AMONG FRIENDS: Scouting leader encourages others to get involved

Cubs and Scouts from all over northeastern Nova Scotia will be gathering at Camp Roderick in Sunny Brae for Jamboree on the Air this weekend. 

Scott Murdoch displays a poster outlining The Canadian Path, a guide to new and innovative programming for Scouting groups and leaders. He also invites the public to drop in to Jamboree on the Air this weekend. (Rosalie MacEachern photo) 

Thanks to the Pictou County Amateur Radio Club, cubs from Stellarton, Thorburn, Lantz and Canso will have the chance to talk to other cubs in countries such as Britain, Germany and the United States. The world’s largest international Scouting event, it has been going on for more than 50 years. District commissioner and 4th Thorburn Wolf Cubs leader Scott Murdoch has been around for a lot of those jamborees.

“Radio contacts are a big part of the weekend, but we have lots of other activities. The kids will be learning safety around the woods and water, how to build a campfire, maybe a little carpentry and cooking and a whole lot of team work,” said Murdoch.

When Murdoch, 60, was growing up in Thorburn, Scouting was one of the few extracurricular activities available.

“Most boys joined Scouts and our leader in Thorburn was Joan Curley, who had over 55 years of service. I went back as a leader when my son was old enough to join. I’ve been a leader and commissioner ever since because it was fun as a kid and it is fun now to see the kids having fun.”

He encourages anybody interested in Scouting and past Beavers, Cubs, Scouts or Venturers to drop in to the jamboree and re-visit the camp.

“Just check in with somebody so we know you’re on the property and you’ll be very welcome.”

The Cub and Scout groups will be staying at the camp, sleeping in cabins, cooking their own meals and chowing down in the mess hall. Located along the shore of MacKinnon Lake, Camp Roderick is in the midst of a 79-acre wilderness preserve. Thanks to the faithful labour of Scouting leaders such as Murdoch, Dennis Raniowski and Pat Brophy of 1st Lourdes Wolf Cub Pack, it is looking better than it has in many years.

“We had a 10-year plan that we broke into two five-year plans and we’re at Year 6, so all the waterfront has been cleaned up and the floatable dock was replaced. All environmental issues, such as creosote ties, have been removed. We built a new cabin for six leaders and refurbished the first aid building,” noted Murdoch, a carpenter by trade.

They also refurbished another large cabin, added a new roof and stove pipe to the cookhouse, replaced some doors and siding, added a new stove to the main lodge and built three new outhouses, one of which is accessible for people with disabilities.

“We made a big effort to improve handicapped access around the camp property. We added a lot of ramps and with the handicapped outhouse, we had someone in a wheelchair make sure it was all suitable,” he said.

He credited Raniowski with installing a bright red flag pole, which can be seen from a distance.

“There are businesses and people in the community who helped us make the improvements. Some folks were in Scouts as kids and others just like the idea of an outdoor place like Camp Roderick.”

The road into the camp has been graveled, two new storage containers are set up on site and Murdoch and his wife, Sherill, a leader with Thorburn’s Beaver colony, keep the grass cut.

“The grass takes a while, but we’re getting pretty good at it. I can change mower blades in my sleep by now,” he joked.

The camp property was vandalized in recent years, but a gate further down the road and other measures have resulted in better security and less damage.

“Our best defence is to have the camp in use as much as we can and we’re making some progress there. We just booked our first wedding for next June. We had two instructors from St. FX put on a canoe course for local teachers over the summer. The cadet program, 4-H clubs, Pictou County Ground Search and Rescue and a few others have used it. The price we charge is pretty attractive because we want it used.”

For the past two years, Murdoch has been visiting municipal councils throughout Pictou County, making them aware of the facilities at Camp Roderick.

“We haven’t had any luck there yet even though they run summer programs. It is a shame considering the facilities we have.”

Although girls have been welcome in Scouting for years, overall enrolment has declined, Murdoch acknowledged.  

“We may be starting to see the numbers come up slowly. On the bright side, the kids we have today tend to be kids who really want to be in Scouting. They like getting outside in the woods and learning how to be more independent.”

He is certain there are communities where a lack of leaders is a problem.

“It is easier to be a leader than it was a few years ago and we have to get that message out. The programming is more kid-driven and it is easier for leaders. If people find it too big a commitment, what they need to do is talk to two other parents or friends and between them they could run a Beaver colony or a Cub pack. If you come out and see the kids here on the weekend, you will know it is worth it.”

Despite his long service, Murdock has no plans to retire from Scouting.

“There may have been the odd hall meeting over the years that I’d have been glad to escape, but I meet some of the best kids in the county so I hope to be around Scouting for a while yet.”


Rosalie MacEachern is a Stellarton resident and freelance writer who seeks out people who work behind the scenes on hobbies or jobs that they love the most. If you have someone you think she should profile in an upcoming article, she can be reached at

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