Record number of Bendigo scouts recognised at award ceremony

LONG WAIT: After a four year bid, Louise McKerlie has earned the highest award a scout can get. Picture: TOM O'CALLAGHAN

LONG WAIT: After a four year bid, Louise McKerlie has earned the highest award a scout can get. Picture: TOM O'CALLAGHAN

It took four years of challenging work but Bendigo rover scout Louise McKerlie has earned the highest award available to scouts.

Ms McKerlie is one of four Bendigo scouts whose bids for the hardest awards in scouting has ended in success.

At a recent ceremony in Melbourne Ms McKerlie and Narelle Lowndes received official confirmation they had earned Baden Powell Awards, which is the highest available to scouts aged 18 to 25.

Meanwhile, Petina Blackwell received the equivalent Girl Guide award, and Matthew Keech and Ruby Baker earned the equivalent award for scouts aged 14 to 17. 

RECIPIENTS: Bendigo awardees Narelle Lowndes, Matthew Keech, Ruby Baker, Louise McKerlie and Petina Blackwell. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

RECIPIENTS: Bendigo awardees Narelle Lowndes, Matthew Keech, Ruby Baker, Louise McKerlie and Petina Blackwell. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

It is believed 2016 is the first year two Baden Powell Awards and two Queen’s Scout Awards had been given to people from Bendigo, according to 1st Strathfieldsaye Group leader Margaret Keech.

Both awards typically take years to complete because of the challenging nature of the tasks applicants must undertake.

Ms McKerlie organised 10 scout camps, went on long hikes, completed training to become a group leader and even learnt how to build a wooden music stand.

She said her commitment to scouting was rooted strongly in her family’s history.

“I’m a third generation cub scout leader. My grandma and my mother have been leaders as well,” Ms McKerlie said.

“So it is that, but it is also a sense of being included. All of my friends are in, or have been in, scouts.”

END OF AN ERA: Louise McKerlie and Narelle Lowndes before the award ceremony. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

END OF AN ERA: Louise McKerlie and Narelle Lowndes before the award ceremony. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Ms McKerlie is now an assistant leader at the 1st Bendigo Scout Group, helping introduce scouting to ‘cubs’ aged ten and under.

She had a recommendation for anyone interested in finding out more about scouts.

“Spend six months with me. If I can’t convince you in that time that scouting isn’t for you then we aren’t selling ourselves right,” she said.

“If you have a passion for it and you love the outdoors it’s the perfect thing.”

Mrs Keech said all four award recipients were impressive, adding that their achievements reflected on the health of scouting in Bendigo.

“It isn’t as huge as it has been in the past but it is certainly coming back. People appreciate that scouting gets kids outdoors and away from electronic things like computers, phones and TVs,” she said.

“And awards like this get people doing things they would not otherwise have a chance to do, like getting out into the wider community.”

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