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Scouts rally to help leader who had a stroke at jamboree

A 1st Painswick Scouter, Brennan Rocks, is in a Halifax hospital recovering from a stroke he suffered at the Canadian Jamboree near Elderbank, Nova Scotia

Being prepared and helping others – those Scouting principles are being put to the test this week, as a 1st Painswick Scouter leads an effort to help another scouter.

Phil Teerink had to think fast and act fast to help Brennan Rocks, 38, Tuesday morning, just after breakfast, at Canadian Jamboree ’17, which took place this week at Camp Nedooae, outside Elderbank, Nova Scotia.

The leaders and their 11 Scouts hiked to a badge-trading site. They were looking to talk with Scouts from across Canada and around the world as they traded crests and badges, which would remind them of the memories they made at the event that attracted 4,500 youth between ages 11 and 14.

Rocks had a stroke.

The 38-year-old Bertram Construction employee had eaten breakfast and hiked 1.5 km with his troop. While Scouts traded crests, he sat down.

That’s when two other troop Scouters, Darren Osmond and Tony Krupa, turned and saw something that needed a closer look. They stopped, checked him out, then got him to the med tent - from which 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 stabilizing in a downtown Halifax hospital, where doctors operated to remove two clots.

“It’s a shock for sure,” said Teerink, who noted his friend and fellow Scouter is in good physical shape and he 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 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.