Josie Ruoss

Josie Ruoss

Local youth encouraged to log off, and get outside

Local “Get Outside BC” teens featured in current issue of the Explore Magazine

Lori Joe/For the Townsman

For the past two summers a group of teens from six different BC communities have been chosen to participate in the “Get Outside BC” Natural Leaders Summit in Squamish BC.

In July, 2013 five local teens from Selkirk in Kimberley attended the Summit, and this past summer we had four local teens from Kimberley and Cranbrook attend.

“This opportunity is so fantastic for our local teens, as well as the community as a whole,” says Lori Joe of Summit Community Services Society. “There are usually only six communities across the province who are chosen and we have been lucky enough to send local youth two years in a row.”

Local youth must apply and once accepted they receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Outdoor Recreation School in Squamish (flights included) where they are taught how to create events to connect youth to the outdoors in a meaningful and sustainable way.

Through workshops in nature, the teens collaborate with outdoor mentors, meet new friends across the province and create supportive youth networks and events….oh, and yes they also have a little fun in the outdoors themselves (hiking, tenting, rafting and paddle boarding).

Once the teens have completed their training at the Summit they return to work with their local regional coordinators for GOBC. Lori Joe of Summit Community Services Society administers the program through the Kimberley office.

“What compelled me most to this organization, was the fact that ‘youth’ were involved in becoming the leaders for change, bringing awareness to the increasing need for technology and gadgets at the expense of time out in nature.

“So rather then having another ‘adult’ lecture them about getting away from their phones and gadgets, why not have teens themselves create and lead their events that get fellow teens/youth in the outdoors. They know what they like or what might inspire others their age…so I let them come up with the ideas and help them network with others and implement a work plan.” says Lori Joe.

“In nature nothing compares to that childhood feeling of total awe and when you can share that with other youth/teens that makes it even more special, I’ve seen this first hand and it is magic!”

The other significant piece is seeing the teen leaders getting youth to come out and try something like snowshoeing or mountain biking for the first time in their lives…it really gives the leaders a true sense of empowerment! They now see that their event or opportunity has given an individual an ‘experience’ in nature that they may never have had the opportunity to try.

Our local leaders have been doing a fine job as Natural Leaders for GOBC…here is a sample of what they have done:

• “Top Of The World/Sparkle Lake Hike” (Bc Parks Partnership Event)

• “Snowshoe-Movie Night” (Kimberley Ski Resort)

• “Frozen Fest” Nordbury Lake (Bc Parks Partnership Event)

• “Kimberley Mountain Bike Clinic For Youth” (Kootenay Freewheelers Partnership)

• “Winter Solstice For Teens” Event (Kimberley Nordic Centre Partnership)

**(a big thanks you to parent volunteers and friends that have helped with many of these events!)

If you would like to find out more information on how you can get involved with GOBC please visit our face book page “Get Outside Kimberley”, “The Outsiders Kootenays” or call Lori Joe at 250-427-4200.

For those teens interested in going to Summit in July 2015, a call for interest is posted on the Get Outside Kimberley Facebook page, as well as posters and applications are placed in the local high schools in the spring.

Get Outside BC is sponsored by: Canadian Parks and Wilderness (CPAWS), BC Parks, MEC, North face Explore Fund, and Vancouver Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Council.