Jim Upright

The oldest boy scout

Longtime Saanich leader steps down after 60 years of volunteering with the youth organization

Campfire songs replaced the choir, as Sunday’s church service St. Aidan’s United was all about Scouts and Guides.

The ceremony was in recognition of the 55 years the Saanich church has sponsored scouting programs.

“They donate the space, to run the program and to store stuff,” said Ken Stotz, leader 5th Cedar Hill Scout Group. “We’re very fortunate because it takes the heat off us. We don’t have to do as much fundraising for space.”

Sunday’s celebration also included presenting a special award to longtime leader Jim Upright.

“For the last 60 years he’s been in a leadership role of some kind (in our organization). He’s an amazing man,” said Stotz, whose leader nickname is Bubbles. “He’s the epitome of a person I would look up to.”

Upright was eight when he joined the St. Faiths Anglican Church 2nd Edmonton Scout Group.

“Mine was a bit of an unusual case. Many get started because they were a youth in scouting, but I was only in Cubs for about six months,” he said. “As a new cub and a small boy I soon found I did not enjoy their methods for leadership and discipline.” Leaders issued the older boys aptly named swatters, cloths they used liberally on the younger boys. Upright quit scouting.

It wasn’t until a decade later that Upright fell back in with the organization, when he learned peers in his United Church Young Peoples Group were members of the Edmonton scout group. By the time he was 19, he and a friend agreed to lead the new Cub and Scout groups affiliated with the church.

Upright, who now lives in Saanich, has spent the last six decades actively involved in the organization. His only time away was during a six-month family holiday to Australia, which included attending a scouting jamboree. Now he’s set to retire.

“I can safely feel I can let it go,” Upright said, adding that he’s pleased to have found great volunteers to fill the roles of secretary, treasurer, popcorn co-ordinator and leader, all of which he’s undertaken in years past.

“One of the philosophies is train and prepare your replacement,” Upright said. “I feel comfortable now that I’ll be able to take a far less active role in scouting in 2014.”

The 5th Cedar Hill Scouts also recognized his wife Ferne Upright for decades spent creating the “neckers” that youngsters wear to display badges, along with supporting her husband and the group over the decades.

reporter@saanichnews.com