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Scouts rally to help Ontario leader who had stroke at jamboree in Elderbank

A fundraising campaign is underway to help Brennan Rocks of Barrie, who is recovering in a Halifax hospital.

Being prepared and helping others — those scouting principles are being put to the test this week as an Ontario scouter leads an effort to help a fellow troop member. 

Phil Teerink had to think fast and act fast to help scouter Brennan Rocks, 38, on Tuesday morning at Canadian Jamboree 2017, which took place this week at Camp Nedooae near Elderbank.

SEE ALSO: Jamboree a first for Nova Scotia

The leaders and their 11 Scouts from 1st Painswick in Barrie, Ont., had hiked to a badge-trading site after breakfast. They were looking to talk with Scouts from across Canada and around the world, and trade crests and badges as mementos of the event that attracted 4,500 young people. 

Rocks had a stroke.

The 38-year-old Bertram Construction employee had hiked 1.5 kilometres with his troop. While the Scouts traded crests, he sat down.

That’s when two other troop scouters, Darren Osmond and Tony Krupa, turned and saw something was wrong. They checked Rocks out and took him to the medical tent, where an ambulance was called.

Teerink stayed with Rocks as he went to the local hospital, then a larger hospital and finally to one where there was a specialist who could treat the cause of Rocks’ stroke.

At the hospital, Teerink said a few words to Rocks, whom he’d gotten to know well over the seven years they worked together in the Painswick troop.

“All he said was ‘Owen,’ his son’s name,” said Teerink. Rocks is now recovering in a downtown Halifax hospital, where surgeons removed two clots.

“It’s a shock for sure,” said Teerink, who noted his friend is in good physical shape and doesn’t smoke or drink.

He’s one of the youngest of the group of six leaders who went to CJ with the Painswick troop.

“We thought, why not us?” said Teerink, who never left his side.

“He can’t talk. I was calling him names and bugging him and I said, ‘You want to get out of this bed and punch me,’ ” he recalled, seeing a glint of his friend’s fiery, fun-loving spirit.

“I knew it. You’re still in there,” he told his friend.

Teerink never left Rocks' side during the crisis, while the other four leaders did their best to reassure the Scouts about what happened and how it will be treated.

“It’s pretty tough on (Owen),” said Teerink, adding he is flying home with the rest of the troop.

As to when and how Rocks will return to Barrie, that’s an unknown.

And that’s when the conversation about starting a Go Fund Me campaign began – in the hospital room at his bedside. The goal is $20,000.

“OHIP (Ontario's public health insurance) won’t pay to transfer him from out of province,” said Teerink. “He might need a wheelchair and medical devices.”

He’ll also have to rely on long-term disability while he works on regaining use of his right leg and right arm.

Teerink said he’s pretty positive about the outlook for his friend.

“He’s pretty stubborn and pretty strong,” he said.


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Laurie Watt

About the Author: Laurie Watt

A journalist with 35 years experience in newspapers, Laurie is also an active volunteer in Barrie.
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