Scout group right at home at C.M. Wilson

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Chatham-Kent No. 19 Scout leaders Mike and Bill Dodman, Venturers Drake Samson, Fletcher Samson, Ruby Dodman, Arcane Reneau, Bee Light and leader Julien Samson pose in front of the new roof on the Main Street Credit Union replica at the C.M. Wilson Learning Centre. The scouting group, which includes Beavers, Cubs. Scouts and Venturers, has been recognized for its dedication to revamp the site, formerly known as the Chatham-Kent Children’s Safety Village.

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A move by Chatham-Kent Scouts No. 19 to the C.M. Wilson Learning Centre is proving to be a perfect fit.

Not only does it offer youth a nature-infused space for activities, it’s a golden opportunity for them to give back by reviving the former Chatham-Kent Children’s Safety Village.

The village, home to 17 tiny businesses and services – including a mini-Tim Hortons – is looking good these days. Thanks to the combined efforts of No. 19’s Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Venturers, the small-scale town that’s used for safety awareness campaigns is making a comeback after falling into disrepair during the pandemic.

Members of the scouting brigade have cleared brush, scrubbed graffiti, repaired broken windows and even installed a new roof on the Main Street Credit Union replica.

The LTVCA purchased the materials and with the Venturers pitched in the elbow grease.

Along with revamping the safety village, youth have also planted trees and cleaned up waterways.

Their hard work has earned the group one of LTVCA’s Volunteer Hero Awards for 2023.

LTVCA chief administrative officer Mark Peacock said the collaboration with the scout group is but one of many successful joint initiatives LTVCA has experienced.

“The reason the conservation authority works is because we have good partnerships,” Peacock said. “This is a really good example of what people can do to help make the watershed better. The scouts are one of many tenants that are coming in and using the building and grounds.”

Mike Dodman, group commissioner for No. 19, said the group moved to the C.M. Wilson Learning Centre during the pandemic as their church hall meeting space closed down. The centre’s main building has a communal meeting room, washrooms and four classroom spaces, making it ideal for Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Venturers to meet.

It’s been a win for the group, Dodman told The Voice, adding the pond at C.M. Wilson provides ample opportunity for water activities and safety.

“We’re avid canoeists and we do a lot of training on the water,” Dodman said. “It’s a good partnership we have with the Lower Thames and we hope it continues.”

Two other Volunteer Hero Awards were presented at the LTVCA’s annual general meeting in earlier this year. The Rotary Satellite Club of Chatham-Kent was also recognized for its efforts in helping revamp the Learning Centre. Long-time Chatham-Kent and Lambton Children’s Water Fest volunteer Gary Eagleson was recognized as a volunteer hero for 16 years of service to the event.

Other 2023 conservation awards were given out at the LTVCA annual meeting. Chatham-Kent drainage superintendent Blaise Chevalier was acknowledged for his collaborative efforts with the authority in restoring erosion along drains through nature-based solutions and other projects.

As well, Gary and Linda Kalita were given the nod as the most generous landowners for planting 2,000 trees on their property and for their ongoing care and maintenance of the trees.

Other milestones achieved by the LTVCA in 2023 include the planting of more than 71,000 seedlings in the watershed; the restoration of nearly five acres of wetlands; the establishment of close to 40 acres of tallgrass prairie; the planting of 625 large-stock trees in urban areas; the removal of 1,500 lbs. of garbage from the Thames River; the planting of just under 9,000 acres of cover crops; and the engagement of more than 5,000 students in educational programs.

The general meeting also saw the re-election of Sarah Emons as chair of the LTVCA board for a second term, with Trevor Thompson and Paul Tiessen elected as vice-chairs.

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