“On my honour I promise to do my best.”
That was the commitment Alan Dawkins made over six decades ago when he became a Wolf Cub in London, England.
Now, at age 78, Dawkins looks back on all those years in between and smiles with the knowledge he kept that promise.
Earlier this week Dawkins was honoured by the Penticton Okanagan Rotary Club with the Paul Harris award named for the service organization’s founder.
The recognition is for people who exemplify the Rotary’s motto, “Service above self.”
“We’ve chosen Alan because of his community service and this reflects his giving back to the community, being so involved,” said club president Jean Jacobsen. “He has done all those things and is a very humble person, just a great candidate and very deserving.”
This was the club’s second unsung citizen award, the first going to local hockey legend Ivan McLelland who also has dedicated untold hours of service to the community.
Read more: Penticton’s McLelland recognized
For his part Dawkins has been involved in helping out wherever he was needed.
That included 45 years of service to the various Scouting organizations, over a decade with the Penticton-Ikeda Sister City Society as well as the Penticton Community Concerts and Soupateria.
When asked about what he was going to volunteer for next he laughingly replied: “Well, I don’t know, there isn’t much time left.”
But of all the work he’s done, Cubs were by far and away his favourite pastime.
“Those kids are a little easier to work with because when you get up to the Rovers they’re 17 or 18, they’re their own boss,” recalled Dawkins. “You can’t let them run wild, but you got no control over them.”
For him, the most rewarding aspect of Cubs was being able to teach kids something at the same time having fun. That included the critical, badge-earning skill of learning to tie knots.
“I had some of the boys bring their skateboards and what I would do is throw them out into the middle of the floor and toss them a line and they would have to tie a bowline so I could pull them back,” said Dawkins.
Having the Cubs learn to tell time using a digital clock instead of the traditional clock face was another of his fondest memories.
“That was one of the best ones,” he recalled. “I had four clocks made with times like 4:55 and the boys never had a frigging clue what 4:55 was. It was quite funny.”
Even today when he’s walking down the street some of his former pack members still say: “Hi Akela (Cub leader).”
After starting as a Cub leader in Penticton in 1975, he rose through the volunteer ranks to assistant district commission for Cubs and in 1980 the assistant regional commissioner for Rovers, the oldest group.
Dawkins also managed and participated in fundraising work for four Scouting properties in the South Okanagan.
He and wife Lorna previously owned the South Beach Gardens campground and have made three trips to Penticton’s sister city, Ikeda Japan.
Surprised and happy was his response to learning he had won the Rotary award.
“It was great, I’ve been around for a long time and I’ve always helped people and all that good stuff,” said Dawkins. “I don’t really know why I help people though, I guess you just got to get the work done and if you don’t do it, nobody else will and besides, it gets me out of the house.”