When we go away for a weekend to go camping, for example, we ban all electronic games, toys, and items such as junk food. We focus on enjoying the outdoors, the environment, nature, and simply being together. We strongly encourage our youth (and for many the first time) to truly discover the great outdoors and nature, to play and explore together, to interact, to live with other people who have different backgrounds and experiences, to be truly physically active! We stress lots of one to one human interactions and not the current socially common and prevalent human to computer experience. Our program that increases the level of challenge dependent on the ages of our boys and girls will embrace the experiences or philosophies as noted below.
Our entire outdoor or environmental program is structured around the "game of life" as developed by Lord Baden-Powell. The experiences and challenges increase in magnitude and scope as the youth get older and master individual and group skill sets along with continued increased individual personal responsibility for their actions or lack thereof.
A team of experienced, dedicated and skilled leaders delivers the program, many of whom have been giving of their own time for more than 30 years to work with our youth. The makeup of the team at the various leadership levels and their related skill sets are well diversified with examples including but not limited to:
- Master canoeing and survival training skill sets - how to master the environment all year round First aid and emergency training
- Nature and the world around us
- Leadership and team development
Our program will ensure in every case that our youth will experience an "education for life" program that will effectively:
- To assume a meaningful and progressive role in helping take care of the environment.
- To measurably expand individual understanding of the world around them as to plant life, animals, changing weather patterns, and much more. The youth will actively practice no trace camping, to visit, explore, enjoy and then leave the forest and its waterways in its natural state.
- Increase self-confidence and independence.
- Help our youth become much more compassionate to life's experiences and to those around them.
- Obtain and then maintain a far greater appreciation of fellow human beings and animals.
- To be able to truly see the positives in the world around us.
- Develop initiative.
- Effective leadership development skill sets.
- Encourage teamwork, to experience and understand what it really means to work together.
Our members adopt a base line wilderness pledge that says:
I promise to:
- Keep all trails and campsites clean of litter
- Not to deface or destroy any trees, vegetation or rocks
- Always respect the cleanliness of the water
- Remain on existing trails and be careful not to create unnecessary new ones
- Insure that my fire is DEAD OUT
- Always be considerate of the campers that are to follow
- Take a moment each camping day to appreciate and give thanks for this wilderness
The Environmental/Nature Impact on our youth...
It is difficult at times to put into words what falls beyond the direct program benefits for our youth as to how they feel, or how they are able to take in all of the new experiences. For many, they may never again have such an experience as a youth outside of our wilderness adventure program experience. Some of the more common unprompted messages conveyed back to the leaders by the boys themselves included:
- The silence is deafening! Never have I experienced silence such that the only man-made noise that I could hear was our "breathing".
- I have seen things that I have never seen before; the beauty of things made by God and not man himself.
- I suddenly realize how small I am in the overall scheme of things, yet I know that in my own small way I can make a positive difference, a difference that matters.
Nature Program Activities are many and varied. A few examples include:
- Helping a burned out island recover as nature intended it (fire due to a man-made camp fire that was not DEAD OUT). This project is projected to take place on Crown Land east of Parry Sound.
- Develop an environmental station on the island that would include activities such as:
- rebuilding the soil
- clearing out refuse
- develop a base surface to encourage new growth to take place
- monitor the quality of the water
- Study the beaver dam and observe the beavers in action
- Study of natural animal life (mammal and aquatic)
- Understand and map out different types of plant life
- Map out the property in detail
- Observe and understand the natural changes to the environment
Base Line Skill Sets
While being able to study and understand the nature and environment around the youth, they must also understand how to live and survive on land far from home or immediate civilization.
Year round delivery of judicious instruction on survival skills and nature awareness is interwoven within all aspects of the program. Skills such as:
- building a shelter
- knowing how to recognize and prepare for changes in the weather
- preparing a meal with base line equipment, star gazing and how to read a star chart
- canoeing skills including water safety and rescue techniques
- backpacking skills (no trace backpacking and camping)
- winter camping including building a snow shelter, snow shoeing and cross-country skiing to ice fishing
- building a fire for heat and cooking