Junior Rangers build skills at Vernon training camp

  • Aug. 17, 2012 3:00 p.m.

Submitted by Sophie Peerless-Our islands are lucky to have many youth programs occurring, the Junior Canadian Ranger Program being one of the more active and outdoorsy ones for youth aged 12 to 18. There is the Sandspit Patrol, for all youth living in or near Sandspit, Charlotte, and Skidegate, plus there is the Masset Patrol for those youth living in Tlell northwards. Those youth living in between can join either patrol. During the year, the patrols meet separately for activities and adventures, joining together for long weekends and special events. In the summer, off-island camps occur which are incredible. This summer, eight Haida Gwaii Junior Canadian Rangers were accepted into the Basic Enhanced Training Session in Vernon, BC. It was an amazing adventure!For 13 days, the group of eight Junior Rangers travelled with two equally adventurous adult chaperones (Mirjam Prudhomme and Sophie Peerless) by seaplane, ferry, taxi and chartered bus to Vernon and then back up to Rupert again. The training camp welcomed Junior Canadian Rangers from all four western provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba). By the time everyone had arrived, there were 129 Junior Rangers, 18 older Junior Rangers as mentors, 15+ regular adult Canadian Rangers, 3+ adult committee volunteers, plus many staff from Victoria to organize and run the camp.Lots of work went into creating the main camp where everyone was welcomed, included in activities from 6 am to 11 pm daily, well fed, and looked after mentally and physically. One of the most astounding things is that the Junior Rangers do not pay for anything. The camp is fully funded, and this includes clothing/uniforms, all travel and meals, plus the many extras that they were given at camp (day packs, hats, shoes, shorts….) And at every meal and snack, the Junior Rangers always ate first 🙂 What a treat for them.The youth got to experience many things not readily available in the north…. city things like movie theatres, fast food restaurants, aquatic centres, elevators, escalators, pedestrian-controlled cross walks, shopping malls, lots and lots of air conditioning as well as being around thousands of people in public areas. For some rural people that would be enough adventure but that was just the beginning. The Junior Rangers also were taught many outdoor skills like belaying and rock climbing at Skaha Bluffs (Penticton), canoeing and canoe-over-canoe rescue skills at Kins Beach (Vernon), swimming fully clothed in life jackets for hours in lakes (the water was so warm – talk about a BC version of Hawaii!), ropes and knots, flora and fauna awareness at the Allan Brooks Nature Centre (the rattlesnakes were awesome), mountain biking and safety, hiking at high altitudes, basic first aid skills, navigation with compass and GPS, camp skills for the overnight hike, and most importantly, surviving the intense heat.When it is hot here on Haida Gwaii, oh, it might reach 25 degrees Celsius. That’s usually hot enough. The heat and humidity in Vernon was amazingly different. When the Junior Rangers arrived, it was 39 degrees Celsius. Imagine not only the culture shock, but the climate shock. Hello sweating while one merely stands and tries to cool down in the shade. Our Junior Rangers were very tolerant and drank litres upon litres of water daily as their bodies slowly acclimatized. They also became very knowledgeable about sunscreen and wide brimmed Tilley hats! By the last day of camp, the heat wasn’t that noticeable anymore which was good because the Junior Rangers performed in a special ceremonial parade in uniform at the local Cadet camp and they all graduated from the basic training course.Congratulations to our local Junior Rangers who went and learned an incredible amount. Hats off to Rhiannan Baranyais, Eli Bedard, Chase Collison, Sarah Peerless, Haelie Wilhelm, Dorian Williams, Alex Elaschuk, and Keiana Diebold. Special cheers to our local Junior Ranger who went as a mentor – excellent job to Danan Baranyais.Both patrols will be starting up again in late August or early September. Please contact the adult committee volunteer in either Sandspit (Mirjam Prudhomme) or Masset (Sophie Peerless) to get included for the next exciting year of adventure and skill building with other Junior Canadian Ranger youth on the islands.

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