Monday, 22 February 2016

Life as a Junior Forest Ranger

When I was 17 years old, I joined the Junior Forest Rangers' program for the summer. It was a youth program run by the Ministry of Natural Resources. To apply, you had to be in your 17th year and a resident of Ontario. The program began in 1944, but unfortunately ended in 2012. Big pity

I was assigned to an all girls group near Chapleau, Ontario. That's way up north past Sudbury. If I remember correctly, it took a full day to get there.We named our camp "Five Mile Style" because we were located near the Five Mile Park. That's a picture of us above. I'm the one in the middle of the first row wearing the 79 shirt reminding us that that was 1979. I'm glad I wore that shirt.

The program involved work, education and recreational components. We learned how to clean campsites, clear trails, plant trees, maintain canoe routes, how to combat forest fires, and wildlife projects (we learned the proper way to skin a beaver. The whole camp turned out for that, but I was the only one who remained until the end).

We were there for the two months of July and August, and it was a lot of fun. I met other girls from all over Ontario and from many different backgrounds. There were also a few other camps near us. We came together for parties and everyone had a great time.

The hardest thing we had to learn was to put out forest fires with a portable fire extinguisher. We were trained how to properly put it together and how to use it. It was a difficult device that required hours to learn but, once achieved, we were very proud of our accomplishment.

On the first day, we were given a number of rules to follow. They included everything to keep us safe and free of injury. Being the rebel I am, I encouraged everyone to break the rules. We broke every one but, at the end of the summer, we won the prize for the most successful camp and received a small pocketknife with the Ministry of Natural Resources emblem. It was so funny we received this after breaking every rule. I still have it.

It was a wonderful summer full of excitement and adventure. We hiked many trails and even went on a fun canoe trip. I don't remember any fights or difficulties. We all got along well and enjoyed the friendships. It was an experience I'll never forget.

My new website goes live on Wednesday, February 24th, 2016. Let me know what you think.

Have fun,