In Portland Oregon, a new Scouting organization has sprung up in the past year. The Cascadian 55th, an emerging community led association, sets itself apart from the Boy Scouts of America in several ways by creating a welcoming, open environment and billing itself as ‘Traditional Scouting for Everyone’.
Chartered in February 2013, with group activities beginning in April, it was started by Portland native Travis Wittwer and his son Kael Wittwer after they called an open community meeting that drew several dozen families. They had their first Hullaballoo campout in June with 92 attendees and since has grown to more than 6 sections such as the Otter, Chipmunk, Timberwolf, Pathfinder, Rover and Auxillary; and while these have quickly filled up, they are seeking to continue to expand around the city.
The Cascadia Scouts are an official scouting organization with merit badges, scarves, backpacking trips and all. They are not the only independent scouting group as the World Federation of Independent Scouts oversees hundreds of scout troops worldwide that are distinct from the well-known Boy Scouts of America, including several other alternative troops in America. Their goal is to build a Traditional Scouting Association for Cascadia that is open to boys and girls, men and women and focused on a traditional, open and inclusive, outdoor program that is open to everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion (or no-religion) or other differentiating factors. It is their mission is to provide a positive learning environment within the context of democratic participation and social justice.
After talking with other parents and staging several just-for-fun multi-family camping trips, the parents behind the Cascadia Scouts decided to get official. Now, the Cascadia Scouts have mutlple levels of scouting for different age groups and all will be welcome to participate “traditional scouting” trips and projects that develop leaders and a love of the outdoors. One potential trip for older kids this summer will be backpacking on a trail that circumnavigates Oregon’s Mount Hood and another in the works is brining treats to Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers.
If you are interested in helping support the 55th Cascadia, or helping start a chapter or branch in your community, you can donate at any Wells Fargo branch or email the 55thCascadia@gmail.com.