Youth program gets back to the basics

Published in Kootenay Weekly Express newspaper | June 10, 1998


The next millennium, that big wave of doomsdays and computer crashes, is approaching fast, and with it is a growing flotsam of hype and prediction. However, whether or not we have airborne cars or DNA testing at our workplace, one thing is certain – social change is inevitable.

“How do we prepare young people for the future,” asks Peter Duryea, Chair of Guiding Hands Recreation Society. According to Duryea, the answer to the question lies in teaching “self-respect, respect for the environment, for each other, and the worlds we live in.”

Guiding Hands is a non-profit society which operates Tipi Camp – a summer project on Pilot Peninsula.

For five years, the Society has run a program for young people with the intent of opening up connections with nature, themselves and each other. The program is appropriately entitled WISE – Wilderness Immersion for Self Esteem.

Through an activity-filled, wilderness-oriented program, young people are exposed to “mental, physical and emotional challenges – the key to self-confidence,” says Duryea. “Surrounded by wilderness, something happens to you. Who you were is down there, and half the world is sky.”

The WISE program is aimed at children aged 9-12 and teens aged 13-16. Interaction is emphasized.

In the past, the program has been a success and is enjoying a 50 per cent return rate every year.

“The kids are the ones who are the future. It is our major focus right now,” says Duryea. “The WISE program gives a sense of belonging and trust in a world where these things are rare.”

WISE will be held on July 21-25 and July 14-18.

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