Camp Loon, the popular Junior Canadian Ranger camp that provides more than a week of advanced leadership training, will not be held in July because of concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s with a lot of regrets that I have to say it can’t take place for a second year in a row because of Covid,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur, the Canadian Army officer who commands the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, which runs the program in Northern Ontario.
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 about 750 Junior Rangers in 24 First Nations across the Far North of Ontario.
Camp Loon is held in the bush on Springwater Lake, 50 kilometers north of Geraldton. The first Camp Loon was held in 2000 at Constance Lake First Nation and later at several other First Nations before being held for the last several years near Geraldton.
Planning for this year’s camp would have provided training for 150 t0 200 Junior Rangers. Up to 50 soldiers and volunteers would have set up and operated the tent camp.
The camp provides selected Junior Rangers with a range of activities that are not normally available to them in their small communities. They include specialized instruction in shooting, boating, mountain biking, driving all-terrain vehicles, first aid, and traditional arts and crafts. The camp emphasizes the importance of safety on the land and water and in personal lifestyles.
“Due to the lengthy preparation and planning and the extreme cost that it takes to deliver and run Camp Loon we had to make an early decision on whether the camp could be held in July,” Colonel McArthur said. “The camp costs a lot of money and we didn’t want to squander it when we could deliver a different type of program with less risk of COVID.
“What we are planning now for the Junior Rangers may not be as rewarding for them as Camp Loon but we can still give them training and skill sets that they require and are interesting and that they can utilize.”
The pandemic forced the suspension last year of the Junior Ranger training program in Northern Ontario “but the chiefs and council are all interested in getting it going again,” Colonel McArthur said. “Where we are able, we will endeavour to get it going again.”
Two new Junior Ranger patrols were to have opened last year in Long Lake Number 58 First Nation and Aroland First Nation, both near Geraldton. “Sometime this spring when it is safe to do so we are going to open those new patrols,” Colonel McArthur said.
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)