By Peter Moon
Junior Canadian Rangers attending this year’s annual Camp Loon are going to have “a great time,” according to Lieutenant Jason Dech, the Canadian Army officer who will be the camp’s commandant.
“It will be the best camp ever,” he said, “and the Junior Rangers are going to have a great time. They will have both fun and, hopefully, retain all the knowledge they will have acquired while at the camp.”
The Junior Canadian Rangers is an army program for boys and girls aged 12 to 18 in remote and isolated communities across the Canadian North. There are more than 1,000 Junior Rangers in Northern Ontario.
Camp loon will run from Monday, July 15 to Friday, July 26.
The main camp will be held in the bush on Springwater Lake, 50 kilometres north of Geraldton, and will provide a week of advanced training for Junior Rangers from 25 First Nations from across the Far North of Ontario.
The camp will also, for the first time, host two satellite camps for Junior Rangers who will not be at Camp Loon. One group will spend a week paddling and camping on Lake Superior while a second group will undergo training in the bush near Pickle Lake.
They will be joined by another group who are not Junior Rangers but are participating in the army’s Eagle’s Nest program for Indigenous youth. They will train at Camp Loon with the Junior Rangers. The participants will come from four First Nations – Aroland, Ginoogaming, Long Lake # 58, and Marten Falls.
A total of 141 Junior Rangers attended last year’s camp. With the addition of the two satellite training sites, more than 300 Junior Rangers will take part this year.
Among the camp’s many programs will be training in a range of activities that are not normally available in the Junior Rangers’ small home communities. They include specialized instruction in shooting (both rifle and paintball), boating (powerboats and paddle canoes), driving all-terrain vehicles, mountain biking, archery, lacrosse, traditional arts and crafts, and a first aid program that will give each qualifying Junior Ranger a certificate from St. John Ambulance.
“The training will emphasize safety at all times but it’s also intended to be a lot of fun,” said Lieutenant Dech. “Camp Loon is an opportunity for them to meet people from other communities, make friends, and learn from each other. They really are going to have a great time.”
The camp staff of about 125 will include Canadian Rangers and regular and reserve members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Some of the Canadian Rangers will have attended Camp Loon when they were Junior Rangers.
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)