Safety a Top Priority for Junior Canadian Rangers

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Junior Canadian Rangers set for Camp Loon 2015
Junior Canadian Rangers set for Camp Loon 2015 - Photo by Sgt Peter Moon.
Junior Canadian Rangers set for Camp Loon 2015
Junior Canadian Rangers set for Camp Loon 2015 – Photo by Sgt Peter Moon.

THUNDER BAY – Camp Loon 2015, held in the bush north of Geraldton, will be a lot of fun for the 160 Junior Canadian Rangers who attend it this year but the real emphasis of their training will be about keeping them safe on land and water and in their personal lifestyles.

“We find Camp Loon is an excellent opportunity to get Junior Canadian Rangers together from across the Far North of Ontario and let them have fun,” said Captain Caryl Fletcher, the Canadian Army officer commanding the Junior Rangers in Northern Ontario. “But there’s a serious side to the camp. Each training site has a learning aspect to it.

“The Junior Rangers learn a range of different skills and techniques and they learn how do them safely. They face a lot of potential dangers where they live, doing things like boating or driving an ATV. We teach them to wear a life jacket in a boat and to wear a safety helmet when they’re on an all-terrain vehicle. They go hunting and we teach them not only how to be a better shot but we also teach them how to be safe with firearms.

”Each year we say this year’s Camp Loon is going to be the best ever. And you know, every year it is better and so are the Junior Rangers.”

The tent camp is held on Springwater Lake, 50 kilometers north of Geraldton, and provides eight days of advanced training for 160 selected Junior Rangers from 20 First Nation communities from across the Far North of Ontario. It has been held annually since 2000.

The opening ceremony is on Wednesday, July 15 and training ends on Thursday, July 23.

The camp is part of the national Junior Canadian Ranger program run by the Canadian Armed Forces for boys and girls aged 12 to 18 in Canada’s remote and isolated communities. In Northern Ontario, there are 750 Junior Rangers.

Camp Loon provides a range of training activities that are not normally available to Junior Rangers in their own communities. They include specialized instruction in shooting (both rifle and paintball), how to drive and maintain an ATV, boating (both power boats and canoes), learning how to swim to survive, mountain biking, archery, lacrosse, and making traditional arts and crafts.

A highlight of the program is a confidence-building zip line that launches from a 10-metre tower and takes Junior Rangers for 130 metres over a river.

Another very popular highlight is the food provided by a military field kitchen. “The cooks go out of their way to give the kids a variety of tasty and healthy food,” Captain Fletcher said. “The food is always one of most popular things about the camp.”

Much of the teaching and supervision at the camp is done by 50 Canadian Rangers, supported by an equal number of additional military personnel from the headquarters of 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden, near Barrie, and other military units.

Charter flights provide transportation to and from the camp for both Junior Rangers and Canadian Rangers.

(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.)

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Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group. Canadian Rangers are army reservists who provide a military presence in Canada's remote and isolated regions, including Northern Ontario. They provide skilled assistance in emergencies such as searches, plane crashes, forest fires, and floods. They also operate the Junior Canadian Rangers, a youth programme for boys and girls aged 12 to 18.