Six young leaders are being recognized for their physical prowess, volunteerism and life skill successes when a provincial dignitary makes a stopover in Trail this week.
The Honourable Judith Guichon, B.C.’s 29th Lieutenant Governor, will be in town to present a bronze level Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to the teenaged students on Saturday.
The award program acknowledges youth commitment to adventurous journey, physical fitness, community service and skills training.
Five Beaver Valley Venturers, Christopher Walker, David Walker, Katelyn Olson, Ryan Buckley and Griffin Tatangelo will be joined by Nelson’s Sea Cadet Sebastian Bodine to receive a bronze lapel pin and “Achiever” certificate for completing the program’s four key components over a six-month period.
An 85 kilometre bike trek, numerous park cleanups. firefighting lessons and cooking a gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner from scratch, were a few of the challenges the teens were up against.
Olson, a 15-year old J.L. Crowe Secondary student, said she’s enjoyed every minute of being part of the Venturers group and has learned many valuable life skills along the way.
“They teach you a lot, like survival skills and how to make a fire properly or use an axe,” she said.
“We get badges for that and it’s cool to have a lot of them. And it feels good to achieve the bronze level award because we’ve worked toward it all year, so the accomplishment makes you feel amazing.”
Guichon’s presence is an added honour, says Venturer leader Heather Hamer. “She wouldn’t normally stop in the area, and she usually only hands out silver or gold awards. So this is really special for the kids to be presented in front of her at the bronze stage.”
Hamer noted that she’s always wanted her group to work on the award, which requires at least one hour of community service each week for six months, alongside a commitment to increasing physical activity and learning new skills like cooking or fire fighting techniques.
“We’ve tried with groups before but unfortunately school and work commitments, and being a teenager, it was never completed. When we started Venturers a few years ago the whole program is based on life skills and community service which mirrors the Duke of Edinburgh program. So the community service part of it was nothing for my guys. They completed that and so much more.”
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is an international program for participants between the ages of 14 to 25 that is fully inclusive, and is without academic requirements.
The program has been in Canada since 1963, but only recently gained momentum locally after Teck Ltd. became involved.
Over 200 youth across the East and West Kootenay have participated in the national award program since Teck’s sponsorship was announced in 2011.
The company covers the $90 administration fee per youth for the full program.
“None of these groups existed before Teck funded a field officer for the region,” explained Sushil Saini from the award’s BC and Yukon division. “And sponsored all registrations for youth. This celebration of youth achievement is a direct result of their support.”
Guichon will be in Trail Friday, touring the community and visiting students at Webster Elementary School.