Junior Canadian Rangers gather for summer training

Click on the slideshow above to view captions.Photos: Cpt. Stephen Watton.

Over 200 youth from the Northern Territories traveled to Whitehorse, Yukon to attend the Junior Canadian Ranger (JCR) Enhancement Training Session (ETS) from June 21 to 28, where they took part in a summer camp full of adventure and life lessons.

In total, youth from 36 different communities across three territories attended the camp offered by the First Canadian Ranger Patrol Group and hosted at the Whitehorse Cadets Summer Training Centre. Of those in attendance, 57 JCRs along with 12 Canadian Ranger escorts hailed from the Northwest Territories.

“The objective of it is really to bring kids from remote communities throughout the territories and provide them challenging experiences, things that they wouldn’t necessarily experience in their community,” said Captain Yannick Fergusson, the officer-in-charge of ETS. “It’s also for them to learn to promote confidence and learn to develop new skills.”

By bringing youth together, he said, the ETS also creates a unique networking opportunity for potential Northern community leaders of the future.

Traditional, Ranger, lifestyle skills

JCRs enjoyed an intense week of recreation, with the chance to try whitewater rafting, zip-lining, rock climbing, canoeing, rappelling and horseback riding. One of the favourite challenges, though difficult, was “monkido,” an intense race course dotted with 48 obstacles. They also learned survival skills by practicing water rescues, trapping for food and trying their hand at woodsmanship.

The youth didn’t just work to improve their physical abilities; throughout the camp, time was dedicated to three different “learning circles,” focusing on traditional, Ranger and life skills.

“The traditional skills are related to who they are and where they come from,” Fergusson said, noting that these lessons were carried out by local elders and First Nations officers. “Since a lot of traditional skills are very particular to an area or even a community, we cannot undertake that with most of us being from the south,” he said.

Ranger skills were oriented towards preserving the Canadian Rangers’ military legacy and sharpening survival skills, while lessons in life skills were more holistic, giving youth pathways toward becoming good citizens.

Healthy lifestyles, proper diet, substance avoidance and abstaining from bullying and harassment were all part of the discussion.

Increasing youth leadership

For the second year running, the ETS camp added a strong leadership component for the older JCRs. In addition to assisting the Canadian Rangers, Fergusson said the inclusion of youth leaders invited more collaboration between campers and their superiors.

Samuel Gruben, 18, of Tuktoyaktuk was one of the senior JCRs chosen to be a camp leader. After attending a leadership training session over the winter, Gruben was given one of his own patrols to command.

“I had a lot of fun and I encourage kids to go to the camp and have the opportunity to experience stuff that they haven’t done before,” Gruben said. After being a JCR for the past four years and attending ETS camps for the last three, he plans on applying to become a full-fledged Canadian Ranger.

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