After 28 years as a leader in the Scouting movement, 18 of which have been spent with the Huntingdon troop, Michael Pagé has now retired. Reflecting back on the experience and how it has enriched his life, the one thing he kept repeating was: “I’ve gotten more out of it than I’ve given.”
Pagé’s journey into Scouting began somewhat unconventionally. Though he was never a member of the organization as a child, he recalls eagerly peering in the gym window to where his cousins were attending their cub meetings and hearing their stories about how great the camping trips were. It wasn’t until later in life, just after he was married and was looking for something to do in his spare time. It was then that he stumbled across an advertisement for Beaver leaders in his local newspaper in Lachine and decided to join the movement. He says, “I fell in love with it” and before long, as the area was short of leaders, he and his wife, Barbara, had taken on leading three different groups together.
They led together before they had children of their own, but after they had children, Scouting continued to play an important role in their lives and the lives of their three children. Volunteering is something Michael and Barbara believe in whole-heartedly, as he says: “Everyone needs to get involved. I think we all have a responsibility and we have to give back. You can’t just be selfish and take, take, take. You’ve got to give.” He goes on to explain how his children have come to embrace that same philosophy: “From five years old until they all moved off to go to college, they were all involved either as a youth member or leader … That’s the greatest thing: I joined and I helped teach kids to lead and then our children are leading. It’s just a phenomenal experience!”
Michael’s passion for Scouting is undeniable. He says that upon noticing this, people have asked him why, if he is so passionate about it, he doesn’t just stay involved in it. Ironically enough, in hearing out his reasoning, it is clear that the very reason why he is choosing to take a step back is because he is so passionate about the movement. He says, “Huntingdon’s success is amazing! We have so many young adults who once they have gone through the movement are chomping at the bit to become leaders.” He supports this statement by listing off a bunch of names of people who are leaders now who have been involved since they were five years old. He says “The truth is, the Huntingdon group is so strong with leadership; they really don’t need me. My greatest fear was if I stay there, these young guys and girls that are the future are not going to stay because they’re going to feel that they’re not needed because there are so many leaders.” He expresses his utmost confidence in their abilities and dedication to Scouting as he sums it up by saying: “The ones who are there now are going to be there for the next 20-30 years because their roots are here. They’re bringing up families here. They’re going to be here so that the legacy continues.” A legacy which, throughout his 28 years he was involved, Pagé has come to develop a lot of faith in as he proclaims Scouting to be “the greatest youth movement in the world.” He admits, “I know that’s a heavy statement, but it is.”
Boy Scouting was founded in 1907 by Lord Robert Baden-Powell. In Powell’s final statement to Scouts that was published after his death he advised them to “try and leave this world a little better than you found it.” The Huntingdon troop has been around for over 100 years and Powell’s message is still at the heart of Scouting both here and around the world. Pagé says their members “don’t just stay in Huntingdon in their little pond, they go beyond that” to camps, events and Jamboree’s all over and meet lots of new people. When attending such events, he explains, “What really touches me, [looking at our members is that] they know what we expect from them and they exceed that.” For example, if they see people fetching water, collecting firewood or pitching tents, they will excuse themselves to go over and lend a hand. Pagé says, “They’re always there to help, but it’s not work to them, it’s part of the joy of Scouting.”
Even though he describes his departure as ending on “a high note” and stating that he is “leaving on the best of terms,” that joy of Scouting is something he confesses, he will miss. Shortly after his final meeting as a Cub leader weeks ago, he nostalgically admitted “it got very emotional because it’s very dear to me and for the first time, this Thursday night, in 28 and a half years, I won’t be going to Cubs or Scouting.” He says it was tough to be leaving the leaders too because “all of them, they are not only just Scouting leaders, they’re friends. True friends. I’ve been very blessed to be in the Scouting movement with this group.” Pagé hates good-byes, and so, as he was leaving his last meeting, he said “See you later.” They had a chuckle at that, but he says “I’ll still see these people around in the community … we don’t just have Scouting in common.” And perhaps the “See you later” was most appropriate, because it turns out the group has already invited him to be their cook at camp in the spring and he vows, “I’m going to make sure that I’m going to support Scouting [in any way I can.]”