Every year, the 1st Elmira Scout Group runs the log-sawing competition at the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. Every year, former Scouts come up to group commissioner Brian Soehner and ask “Do you remember me?” He’s always glad when people stop by to say hello, but Soehner often has to admit that he doesn’t remember.“It could have been 40 years ago,” he laughed.It’s hard for him to believe, but Soehner has been a leader with Elmira Scouting for four decades, an achievement for which he was honoured at the awards meeting Tuesday night.
Soehner himself was a Cub and Scout many years ago; he signed up because everybody did in those days. In the 1970s he joined the Elmira Jaycees, and the Cub leader, who was also a Jaycee, told him they needed help with Scouts.
Soehner was a Scout leader for 24 years and has been a Venturer advisor for 17 years. In that time, he’s been to 10 national jamborees and seven world jamborees.
Soehner notes that the core goals of the program – outdoor activities and personal development – haven’t changed over the years he’s been involved, but the approach has changed in step with environmental and social changes.
“That’s the good thing about Scouting: it’s kept up,” he said.
And Elmira Scouting has kept up as well, with numbers around 100 – up from the low 50s a few years ago.
Soeher doesn’t have his old Scouting uniform; he now wishes he did, but at the time he had no idea he’d be involved this long. For Soehner, the most rewarding part of being involved with Scouting is the awards ceremonies like the one held Tuesday, when youth are recognized for all the hard work they’ve put in.
“That’s what’s kept me going, is the dedication and enthusiasm of the kids.”