Masonic Foundation Of Ontario

"There are lots of young men and women we would love to have as students, the Nobel Prize winners, the Lasker Award winners of the future. It would be a sin if society is deprived of the fruits of their work down the road because those of us, today, who could have helped, didn't."
-- Michael Bloomberg

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Doing a Good Deed

I used to be a Boy Scout and, in many respects, I guess I still am. I'm writing this story for two reasons. The first is that a lot of graduates like myself have lost touch with all the changes taking place in the organization. The second is that the stereotype of a kid with a Stetson hat helping a little old lady through traffic just has to go. - Ted Morris

Queen's Park, the seat of provincial government, the centre of pomp and ceremony of the opening of Parliament, the location where, again this year, 45 young people were honored by the Lieutenant Governor and presented with their Queen's Venturer award.

What's a Venturer? What's the award?

Forget "Boy"

Times change. When thinking about Boy Scouts, strike the word "Boy." Scouts Canada has tailored programs from young people of both genders because - well, simply because young people of today demand it. As the sophistication of young people changed, so did the age groupings and the names of the programs in Scouting. They start at six years of age as Beavers, become Cubs at eight years and join Scout Troops at eleven. Scouts used to be boys from 12 to 18 years. Now boys and girls become Venturers at 14 and Rovers at 18. This gives Venturers four years to qualify for that top award and meet the Lieutenant Governor.

The Masonic Foundation has been contributing to Scouting programs and other youth groups for more than 20 years. For the past 16 years the Foundation has been sponsor of the Queen's Venturer Award ceremonies in Ontario. These young people, like candidates for Masonry, demonstrate an appetite for knowledge and a desire to make themselves more extensively serviceable to their fellow man. They study and train to better themselves.

The King's Idea

The concept started in 1909 when Edward VII and Baden-Powell (the founder of Scouting) agreed that exceptionally good Scouts would be designated "King's Scouts." They qualified through first aid training and developing service skills such as lifesaving and interpreting. With the assent of Elizabeth II to the throne in 1952, the honour was changed to "Queen's Scout."

In 1967 Scouts had their top award established as The Governor General's (or "Chief Scout's") Award, and the newly-created Venturers were given the goal of becoming a Queen's Venturer.

Tough Qualifications

A Queen's Venturer has to hold a current St. John Ambulance or Canadian Red Cross first aid certificate. He (or she) has to be certified in a service skill, like the Royal Life Saving Society's Bronze Medallion or higher, the YMCA Lifesaving Certificate, search and rescue qualifications, ski patrol training, or recognition by the Canadian Power Squadron.

As for activity in the community, the candidate has to complete a minimum of fifty hours of volunteer service to a service like a food bank. Voluntary participation is also required with Cubs or Beavers or any youth club. Leadership has to be shown in a peer group as well, a body that debates issues and forms policy, like a student council.

Two "musts" are the holding of the World Conservation Award, and the Religion in Life Award, both of which require long explanations.

The award promotes development of the whole person through exploration of personal interests, concern for education, community service, physical fitness, and the social, cultural and vocational facets of life.

All that, and homework too. Small wonder recipients are usually 16 years and older.

Highlight Ceremony

The trip to Toronto is a big deal, the highlight of a "career" in Scouting. This year 45 young people were honored in the ceremony. The record high was 73 a few years ago. There's no limit. The Lieutenant Governor receives the recipients in his apartments in Queen's Park, along with 300 guests which include proud parents. There are certificates, speeches and a vice-regal handshake. Since it's an official government function, the Venturers go through a rehearsal at 9:20 and the real thing at 10:15.

This year they came from Agincourt, Whitby, Burlington, Camlachie (near Sarnia), Elmira, Guelph, Highland Creek, Lindsay, London, Newmarket, Oshawa, Port Dover, Richmond Hill, Ridgetown, St. Catharines, Smiths Falls, Toronto, Welland, and Windsor. Elmira and Ridgetown both had five recipients.

The Funding

General funding of Scouts Canada runs the programs, pays the staff, and trains volunteers. There are 76,240 participants in Ontario. Extras, like the Queen's Venturer Award in Ontario, rely on special sponsors, like the Masonic Foundation.

The Foundation also sponsors Ontario 4-H delegates to the National Citizenship Seminar in Ottawa, and DeMolay activities. This support of young people can be found in the Masonic Foundation Annual Report under the $13,000 listed as "Youth Organizations." Your Yellow Envelope contributions make you a personal co-sponsor.

Comments are Welcome

V.W. Bro. Ted Morris
76 Ballacaine Drive, Etobicoke, ON, M8Y 4B7
If you want to chat, call Ted at (416) 232 - 9545 or (705) 448 - 2574