Endless Adventure 1st Prize Winner, submitted by Don Ford, Troop Scouter, 2nd Bramalea
In July, 2016, 2nd Bramalea hosted the 1st Banchory Troop from Scotland for 16 days. Youth from both sides of the Atlantic were involved in choosing the itinerary. A trip to Niagara Falls was considered essential by all, but there was a desire to involve camping, First Nations, and conservation, too. Camp Nemo became our base for this experience. We enjoyed a day trip to the falls, followed by the conservation project, and a pig roast celebration with the White Pine Dancers at a reconstructed Iroquoian Village at Crawford Lake.
To ensure a successful conservation project, we partnered with staff from Conservation Halton, which operates Crawford Lake and promotes habitat restoration. As it turns out, they were in need of assistance with an ongoing project to restore brook trout habitat in Bronte Creek. Over time, this creek has been altered with on-line ponds, and vegetation removal to the point that it was no longer suitable for brook trout. These game fish need cold, clean flowing streams to live in. Conservation Halton, with support from the City of Hamilton, Trout Unlimited Canada, and the Courtcliffe Park Committee had already gathered the required raw materials (logs, old Christmas trees, and brush) and the safety gear (waders, goggles, etc.). All they needed was the energy of over 80 youth to get wet, get dirty, and place the habitat structures in the riparian zone of the creek. In preparation for our service project, we received a safety briefing from the staff as well as an explanation of why the work was needed. Youth were encouraged to ask questions, provide feedback on the experience, and get involved with decisions of what structures were utilized and where they were placed.
In about 3 hours, we were able to complete the work required, and have a break for lunch. Then, we split off into two groups – the ambitious group wanted a hike along the Bruce Trail between Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area and Crawford Lake Conservation Area. The second group went back to Camp Nemo for a well-deserved rest before the evening festivities at Crawford. This enabled us to accommodate the interests of all youth, and made for a happier experience for all. Those on the hike had the chance to see nature in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area, including the rugged terrain of the Niagara Escarpment. Our day ended with a pig roast dinner at the Iroquoian Village and a presentation of stories, drumming, and dancing by the White Pine Dancers from the Six Nations Reserve.
The feedback we received from both the Canadians and the Scottish Scouts after this expedition was universally positive. As a memento of the event, each Scottish Scouter was given a book on the parks of Conservation Halton as well as two books on First Nations culture. Now we are planning our return trip to Banchory, Scotland in 2019 to experience their unique culture. All this, thanks to a Scouts Canada and Plan-Do-Review.