© Dave Leaderhouse
Brent Mason of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation gets group of shooting enthusiasts ready for an afternoon at the range.
For the past two weeks Prince Albert has been the site of a conservation camp hosted by the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, but a further sign as to the lack of interest in the local federation has come to light as no one from this area enrolled in the program.
The first week had 13 female participants, ranging in age from 14-17 years, and last week there were 21 males from the same age group taking part in the event. Almost every corner of the province was represented, but the host city had no one because no one applied.
“That’s what I hear is Prince Albert (Wildlife Federation) is struggling,” said Brent Mason, the education co-ordinator for the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. “We had kids from all over the province. They have to apply and tell us why they want to be here – that is the most important part.”
The camps are held every year with this being the 30th straight summer that it has been held in Prince Albert. Participants are exposed to a number of activities and Mason says some key character-building programs are incorporated in the event.
“We want the kids to push the boundaries,” says Mason. “We want them to go outside the box.”
“It teaches them leadership and hopefully they build together as a team,” added Mason. “We want them to use their experiences from here to continue promoting safety and ethics.”
The participants set up a camp on the grounds of the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation and from there they set out to take part in a number of activities to expose them to the great outdoors.
There is trap shooting, handgun shooting and archery at the ranges on the federation site and west of Prince Albert while canoeing and wilderness cooking are taught on a trip to Candle Lake. Sessions in basic survival skills, GPS, map reading and plant and wildlife identification are also held and a trip to the Nesbitt Fire Centre introduces the groups to the anatomy of a deer as a conservation officer opens up a deceased animal to explain the inner workings of an animal. Partnerships with SIAST and the Saskatchewan Association of Conservation Officers add further instruction on education opportunities and an introduction to the canine unit with this proving to be one of the more interesting sessions for the participants.
Another important element of the program is called “Leave No Trace” and that is where all participants must clean up their camp site and leave it in the same condition as they arrived. This is a very key training component as teaching the young campers to have respect for nature will carry forward to future generations.
With all of this new knowledge, the participants end their camp with a test on what they learned. The results are then sent to their parents along with a report to the federation from which they are representing.
The week can prove to be long, but it is certainly filled with a lot to do. The participants are up at seven every morning and after breakfast they do chores before heading out on the activities scheduled for that day. There are five counsellors from across the province taking care of them and ensuring they are learning and enjoying themselves and as soon as the sun goes down, so do the participants.
It is a week they will likely not forget for some time. Maybe someone from Prince Albert will apply next year as this very affordable outing is right in their own backyard.