Lynn Johnson became a Cub Leader at the age of 19.

By Denise Bacon

Lynn Johnson isn’t your average almost-80-year old! She will be marking 60 years of continuous volunteer work with Scouts Canada this year.

Lynn had not even heard of Scouting at the age of 18. A young suitor who was highly involved with Scouts introduced Lynn to this wonderful organization. He was involved with the Rovers, the oldest group of Scouts, so Lynn’s first entry to Scouting life was as a “Rover Girlfriend.” In this role, Lynn enjoyed all the fun social activities with Scouts without having any responsibilities. Soon, she decided to take the step of getting involved rather than staying on the sidelines.

In 1964, she took her first Scouts Canada course at Woodland Trails Scout Camp in Markham and she became a Cub Leader at the age of 19. Scouts Canada takes its responsibility to lead young people very seriously and Lynn completed many courses that first year, and has continued her development as a Scout leader since that time. Over the years, Lynn has held many roles, including Beaver and Cub leader, Beaver Advisor, various roles in service teams, Trainer and Group Historian.

Lynn is fondly known as Akela, her Cub-Leader name. “Akela was the old grey wolf who led the pack in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, and all Cub pack leaders’ names have come from Jungle Book characters,” she said. Kipling’s poetry has been incorporated into Cub ceremonies and Lynn has treasured this tradition.

One of many highlights for Lynn over her 60 years with Scouts Canada was touring the United Kingdom with Venturers, the 15 to 17-year-old group. She visited Brownsea Island, the site of the first experimental camp organized by founder Robert Baden-Powell with 20 boys in 1907. If that was not a thrill itself, she topped the experience by having tea with Baden-Powell’s daughter!

Lynn has witnessed many changes throughout her time with Scouts. “The organization needed to change to respond to and evolve with cultural changes,” she said. When doing training for Beaver and Cub Leaders in Agincourt, Lynn learned a lot from Chinese and Muslim communities. Her new friendships led to three trips to Hong Kong to train Leaders there. Lynn is grateful for the experiences that Scouting gave her. She said she hopes that she gave back as much as she gained.

1st Highland Creek Scout Group started in Scarborough in 1948, and St. Dunstan of Canterbury church on Lawson Road has been home to the Group since 1983. Lynn and the other “absolutely brilliant Leaders” have led the Cub Scouts there since that time.

Lynn has had deep joy in witnessing young children growing up towards becoming “whole persons, able to take care of self and to be able and willing to help others.” She said that the badge system helps the children to earn their rewards while learning various skills along the way.

Recently, Lynn and the other leaders led their pack on a “Mystery Tour.” The children followed clues through the CNE Grounds and ended up at Medieval Times to see horseback jousting games and to enjoy a four-course feast. “Of course, the stringent safety protocols are always followed to the letter,” she emphasized.

Lynn looks forward to each new Scouting year, which runs from September to June. New children from various backgrounds and abilities join the returning children and the adventure begins year after year. Thank you, Akela, for helping to form the young people of today to become society’s leaders in the future!