© (Cindy Cox photo/The Coaster)
Nine youth is the Bay d’Epsoir area have completed their program and have received their Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Back left: Nicole Willcott, Whitney Willcott-Beniot, Kendra Willcott-Benoit, Rebecca Wheaton, Michael Willcott. Front Left: Jordan Collier, Liam Collier, Stacey Burke, Chantel Caines.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award has been an active organized group within the Bay d’Espoir Region since 1979. Valerie Hoskins started the program in St. Alban’s with the Rangers and a senior level of Girl Guides; since then the program has been integrated into other youth groups such as Scouts and the Cadet Program. Mrs. Hoskins has kept this program going from her devotion, drive and passion for the outdoors. This award process has given these nine youth a chance to set their goals and achieve results in a fun and challenging way. They got to explore new activities and pursued current interest.
Jackie Rose, the present group leader was a member herself from 1992 to 1996, during which time she completed her Bronze, Silver and Residential (a Silver level requirement). Jackie has been involved with Valerie’s Duke of Edinburgh Group whenever needed, since 2004. Our very own MHA, Tracey Perry, received her Gold Award and attributes much of her leadership skills to the program.
“The Duke of Edinburgh Program was thoroughly enjoyable. I learned so much, acquired new skills (such as camping, knitting, and guitar, to name a few) and met so many wonderful people. Perhaps one of the most outstanding was our Leader, Mrs. Valerie Hoskins, who was incredible. She devoted endless hours, took her own holidays to bring us on hikes and camping trips, edited our reports, and motivated us with pep talks when we thought we’d never finish the 50 kilometer trek. I treasure those memories, and thank her profusely for the positive impact she has had in shaping my leadership skills,” stated Tracey Perry.
Many resource people in our area have volunteered their time to help and continue to support the program such as providing Map and Compass Training(Forestry employees and Cadet instructors); First Aid Training(Local Health Care professionals) and The St. Alban’s Youth Center (offering their facility for training and meetings). Many thanks to all that have volunteered their time over the years. It is because of this collective community support that the program can continue. In the last thirty years many young people have been fortunate to have come through this prestigious program.
“The Award is a recognized award-granting program open to participants ranging in age from 14 to 25 years,” stated Jackie Rose. “To earn a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award, participants must satisfy criteria for each award level set out in a Record Book. The Program is designed to educate students and teach them life skills through such aspects as outdoor activity, community service, physical fitness and outdoor tripping. I am pleased to report that the following participants have successfully completed their Bronze Award: Michael Willcott, Whitney Willcott-Benoit, Kendra Willcott-Benoit, Chantel Caines-Willcott and Rebecca Wheaton with Jordan Collier completing his reports. They have all demonstrated commitment and progress through the completion of their Bronze Skill (minimum time requirement is 6 months). All of the students have worked very hard over the last year and a half and have all acquired new skills such as guitar, music, piano and sewing. They have devoted their time to volunteer with a variety of local organizations such and The Girl Guides of Canada as junior leaders; St. Alban’s Youth Center helping out with dances and various weekend events; St. Ignatius Parish and at Bay d’Esoir Academy, to name a few. Physical Recreation was also completed by all participants (minimum of 30 hours over a 15 week period). Many students choose to use their varsity athletic teams to acquire these hours and some exercised independently. The beauty of this program is the ability for the youth to choose a Skill, Physical Recreation and Service at each level that appeal to their own interest and abilities. This program is not meant to add to our already busy schedules, but rather, it is meant to help youth achieve a sense of accomplishment and help create a well rounded healthy lifestyle. We have three new members this year working in their Bronze Award; Liam Murray, Stacey Burke and Nicole Willcott.
“In my experience as a leader and a participant most youth are already doing many of the criteria required to complete each level of this award but may be missing the Physical Recreation, Skill or the Service (volunteering) aspect. So why not get out and get involved, get active, learn new skills and earn a very prestigious award all at the same time.”
“It is remarkable how much this program really can truly diversify young individuals. This is very evident to me through this group of individuals I have currently. All have gained a true appreciation for volunteerism and a greater appreciation for their community. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and can benefit you and as much as the cause you choose to help. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills. It is because of this program that I have always volunteered my time, enjoy learning new skills and being active. They all have grown so much and have gained a deeper knowledge of hiking and camping and the endurance that is required to complete these Adventurous Journeys. For the Bronze level we hiked 30 km over two days and one night. This year the Silver level participants (Rebecca, Chantel, Michael, Jordan, Kendra and Whitney) will venture 50 km over three days and two nights which we will complete in June, 2012. These hikes really stay with you and I still remember our hikes, with Valerie Hoskins.”