It’s the norm for Scout groups to host annual Shoreline Cleanup days in their communities — in fact you could say that Scouting and the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup go hand in hand.
The Rover Crew, a Scout group aged between 18 and 26, focuses on developing youth, and on regularly doing community service. Scouts in this program develop soft skills in leadership and project management by creating community service projects and executing them properly. By organizing Shoreline Cleanups they get hands-on experience and learning about proper garbage disposal habits, and see for themselves how easy it is to make a difference and inspire others to get involved – creating a growing positive influence on the community.
Last month the Rover Crew held their annual Shoreline Cleanup at Garry Point Park. We asked Tina Liao, a Rover Scout taking on this Shoreline Cleanup as her first project, about her experience registering with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup:
Brian: How easy is it to register a group for a cleanup? And what was the process like?
Tina: It was my first event, so I learned a lot about project management. Since it was a fairly simple project, it was a nice way of getting my foot in the door. I registered our group with The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, choosing an available location (Garry Point Park), and I filled out their summary card. On the Shoreline Cleanup website, they provide a lot of helpful details that go through step-by-step of organizing the cleanup. Their safety information was a big help as well.
Tina emphasized that all the resources provided on the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup website made her job managing this project easy and safe to do. She got to see firsthand just how easy it is to gather a group of like-minded youth to clean up some bottles and make a difference.
We also sat down with Victor Chan, vice president of the Rover Crew, to discuss his experiences with Shoreline Cleanups. Victor has been in Scouting practically his entire life, and is part of the reason why the Rover Crew will be an active participant of Shoreline Cleanups for a long time.
Brian: Give me a bit of background on your involvement with Shoreline Cleanups over the years. Would you say Scouting has gotten you more involved in cleaning shorelines?
Victor: Yes, Scouting is probably the only reason why I know about Shoreline Cleanups. As Scouts, we learn about Leave No Trace, which teaches us the principles to leave a place better than when you first found it.
In Vancouver, we have been fortunate to always have access to good municipal waste disposal systems, but when they’re not accessible, we might think “it’s okay if I drop this tissue paper on the ground once.” However, when thousands of people think and act like that, then the issue becomes larger than just one tissue paper. And that’s where I see how Shoreline Cleanups do a lot of good.
Brian: Has anything significantly changed at all about the cleanup culture over the many years you have been involved?
Victor: The biggest change I’ve seen is the variety of waste we find. In recent years, recreational drugs and smoking have become more prevalent, so we often find more needles and cigarette butts on the ground. Again, because the average Vancouverite is fortunate to have access to a diverse community, we also have access to a wider range of products that come with different packages. That, however, translates to an increased amount of plastics and synthetic materials that end up on the streets, in our parks, and along our coastline. With a large spectrum of waste, it becomes more important than ever for us to make a difference by cleaning a shoreline.
Brian: Would you say that, coming from a Scouting perspective, our Rover Crew has approached Shoreline Cleanups in a different way?
Victor: The Crew has completed several Shoreline Cleanups, and our approach has been to find niche areas to do our service to the community. For instance, instead of going to dykes and high-traffic locations, we tend to choose areas with fewer people. Even though there is less waste, these are often places overlooked due to lower traffic, so we pick up waste that would have potentially stayed there for many months.
It’s part of the Scouting mission to create a better world, and our Crew has contributed by completing many environmental stewardship projects in Canada and across the globe. I can see our Crew continuing to contribute by organizing more Shoreline Cleanups, and playing a part in keeping the Metro Vancouver community healthy for years to come.
What distinguishes the Rover Crew is that it’s a leadership and youth development oriented program. This means that while it upholds the same values and promotes environmental stewardship, most of the work being done goes toward community service projects that the Rover Scouts plan and lead. The Rover Crew really values the experience of project management, and believe that it’s the most beneficial type of experience that youth of this age can get. For initiatives like the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, this means that youth are not only getting involved as participants, but they are challenged as leaders and role models in their communities.
Aquablog post by guest blogger Brian Asin, Rover, 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group
To get involved with the Rover Crew project management and youth development programs visit: www.pccrovers.com
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited and supported by Ricoh Canada, YVR and OLG., is a joint conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF-Canada. Find out more at www.shorelinecleanup.ca