Submitted by: Magali Larochelle Youth Outreach Worker
The Youth Conference’s goals were to empower and to engage youth aged 12 to 18 years living in the Columbia Valley. The youth conference offered different workshops mostly focused on leadership skills and half of the workshop had an Aboriginal component. A total of 23 youth participated in the event which included 8 boys and 15 girls.
The Conference provided a great opportunity to collaborate with different organizations in the Columbia Valley: 7 volunteer adults were involved in the planning process, as well as one Key Note Speaker and Family Dynamix. Collaborators came from different youth minded organizations such as: East Kootenay Addiction Services, Shuswap Band, Ktunaxa First Nations, The Summit Youth Centre, Fireside Adventures and one person from the community of Invermere. The high school of Invermere provided their support by letting us advertising the Youth Conference on lunch breaks and by reaching out and encouraging youth to participate.
Jeff Willis, C.Y.W. / Founder & Principal Consultant of Creative Toolbox and Vancouver Outdoor School was our Key Note speaker. Jeff is a skilled, energetic speaker and workshop presenter and has spent over 24 years working with a number of communities, businesses, public/independent schools, community programs, camps, and outdoor education centres across Canada. Through supportive, innovative and experiential means, Jeff specializes in developing collaborative staff teams that work towards a stronger identity, effectiveness and foundation. Creative Toolbox is an approach to building an active and experiential sense of community through creative measures and outdoor adventure. Jeff is the owner of Vancouver Outdoor School and Fireside Adventures. He is also the
General Manager of Camp Fircom Society and co-director of Camp Suzuki and Windspeaker.
The Youth Conference was held at Blue Lake Centre. This facility is a renowned outdoor education centre located just 45 minutes South of Fairmont Hot Springs. The back country location and the newly renovated facilities made Blue Lake Centre an excellent venue for this event. As the Youth Conference happened over two days and one night, everybody got the experience of sleeping in a cabin in a remote area. The Blue Lake Centre managers were very kind and supportive of our event.
Transportation was provided by Copper Point Resort located in Invermere. A bus picked up all participants from the high school on November 13 at 2pm and drove them to Blue Lake Centre. Then, pick up from Blue Lake Centre to Invermere was the next day, November 13th, at 4:20pm.
To help financially support the Youth Conference, Family Dynamix organized a Professional Development Day (ProD Day) for the professionals of Invermere and as well as from outside communities. A total of 19 participants contributed $2090.00. The Key Note for this ProD Day was Jeff Willis.
Overall, participants enjoyed their experience. They had lots of fun, made new friends and learned new things. Creating the connection between one another was very valuable. Unfortunately, 4 participants were driven home on the morning of November 14th. Their lack of respect for the event, participants and organizer as well as disturbing the whole group of participants was the reason they were expelled from the event. Those participants were simply not ready to take part in this type of event.
At the end of the event, the closing circle talked about what each of the participants experienced over their weekend. It was very meaningful and powerful exchange. Participants are hoping for more events like this and also expressed their desire to connect with other communities as well.