The 1st Drumheller Scouts embarked on an adventure of a lifetime as they attended the 30th annual snowmobile camp in Yellowknife, NWT from March 17th to 21st. While the contingent was small in nature with 2 Scouts and 2 Scouters, their enthusiasm was great! Preparation started months in advance as plane tickets had to be purchased, a Facetime meeting with the Yellowknife Scouts was arranged, and warm clothing had to be packed. We set out thinking our group was well prepared for a northern experience. We were mostly right!
The group flew in to Yellowknife on March 15th, arriving just prior to midnight. They were greeted at the airport by 5 Scouters from the 1st Yellowknife Scouts. We had the privilege to bunk with one of the Scouters for 2 nights prior to our adventure. On the only free day that we had, we explored the city of Yellowknife, went to the Pilot’s Monument, which overlooks Great Slave Lake, and visited the Welcome to Yellowknife sign where we “held” the large knife. At this time we also had the opportunity to check out one of the original bush planes that was first used to bring supplies to the city of Yellowknife in the 1930s and 40s. In the afternoon we went on dogsled rides with both the Scouters and the Scouts being in control of the dogs, as well as having the opportunity to ride in the sled. We attended the Snowking’s Ice Castle that was created for the Snow King festivities which last for the entire month of March. The Snowking has been building his castle every year on Great Salve Lake since 1996. Upon touring this castle of ice and snow, the local Area Commissioner, Mike Kalnay, called and provided a further tour of the fabulous city of Yellowknife. This tour included a visit to the Legislative Assembly and the famous Ice Road. Scouter Kalnay also gives “My Backyard” tours in his spare time.
On the next day we arrived at Scouter Mike’s house where everyone (5 Scouters, 2 Venturers and 3 Scouts from 1st Yellowknife) was getting ready to travel to Hidden Lake, where the camp would take place. Upon securing our snowmobiles we set off for a 3.5 hour journey to Scouter Eric Brown, AKA “Geezer’s,” and Scouter Monty Doohan’s cabin. During our journey we crossed multiple portages and were allowed to open up and cruise when we were on the various lakes. The Scouts had an opportunity to drive the snowmobiles while we were on the various lakes. Upon arrival at the camp, and after unloading the gear, the Scouts were allowed to drive the snowmobiles by themselves in front of the cabin on Hidden Lake. The Scouts had the opportunity to sleep outside the cabin in a heated prospector tent. During the week, the Scouts had the opportunity to be taught by Search and Rescue how to properly use a GPS, as well as learning how to build emergency shelters. The following day, the Scouts had the opportunity to use these new skills as they got “lost” and had to be found in an exercise involving the Yellowknife Search and Rescue plane. Along with having the exercise being a success, the Scouts grilled cheese sandwiches on an open fire. Their ingenuity had them make a large SOS sign in the snow, as well with a little help from a Scouter, was able to spell HELP in cursive with the assistance of a snowmobile. During campfire, the Scouts were able to witness the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, every night up close. To obtain fresh water on a daily basis, the Scouts were required to draw the water from the lake through a hole that was drilled. The Scouts had an opportunity to also go ice fishing. The Drumheller Scouts obtained various badges that are unique to those above the 60th parallel, including dogsledding, snowmobiling, sewing of seal skin mitts, and ice fishing. Both Scouts obtained certification of each being in the Order of Arctic Adventurers North of 60 Chapter.
The trip was a true learning experience that taught our entire group skills such as winter survival, snowmobile safety, communication, organization, and most importantly, overcoming the diversity of a new opportunity. New friends were made, cold toes were warmed, and a crazy adventure is now under our belt. It is important to note that Scouts living in Yellowknife are able to take a course through Arctic Response in Yellowknife to obtain their snowmobile license; therefore, once they are 12 years of age, and licensed, they can drive their snowmobiles in the city. Our Scouts were unable to obtain their license, and as a result there were safety discussions and hand-on lessons prior to, and throughout, the camp. Any group that wants an extreme winter adventure for their group should look at making the Northwest Territories part of their future plans.
The Yellowknife trip was a tremendous opportunity which inspired all those who attended. This positive learning experience was able to happen due to tons of volunteer time and sponsorship. Aside from all the hard work and expertise put forth by the Yellowknife Scout group, which we are incredibly thankful for, we also want to thank all the local people who helped send us North. Thanks to the Drumheller Elks, the Free Masons, Drumheller Legion, Allied Distributors, Knox United Church, Bride Russell, Fountain Tire, the Royal Tyrrell Museum and all other community members for all the generous donations that helped fund our trip. To the parents of our Scouts, thank you for allowing your kids to experience such an impacting experience. And, most of all, thank you to our Scouts, Duncan and Remi, for all of your enthusiasm, perseverance, and leadership.