By Peter Moon
Junior Canadian Rangers attending this year’s annual Camp Loon are going to have “a great time,” according to the Canadian Army officer commanding the Junior Rangers in the Far North of Ontario.
“The kids are going to have a fantastic time this year,” said Captain John McNeil.
The tent camp is held in the bush on Springwater Lake, 50 kilometres north of Geraldton, and will provide eight days of advanced training for about 150 Junior Rangers from 23 First Nation communities, most of them without year-round road access. The program stresses safety on the land and water and in personal lifestyles and has been held annually since 2000.
The camp’s opening ceremony will be on Tuesday, July 18 and it closes on Tuesday, July 25.
The Junior Rangers are a national youth program run by the Canadian Armed Forces for boys and girls aged 12 to 18 in Canada’s remote and isolated regions. There are 1,015 Junior Rangers in Northern Ontario.
Camp Loon provides a range of training activities that are not normally available to Junior Rangers in their home communities. They include specialized instruction in shooting (both rifle and paintball) boating (power boats and canoes), driving all-terrain vehicles, learning how to swim-to-survive, mountain biking, archery, lacrosse, and traditional arts and crafts.
“This year we’re going to add a kind of construction feature and teach the kids some skills they can use back to their communities,” Captain McNeil said. “One of those will be safe chain saw operation, the ability to use a chain saw, the ability to use it safely, using the proper safety gear and equipment. They will not only cut down trees for wood or fires but they will have the opportunity to make things. They can make benches, picnic tables for use when they are on the land and in their communities.
“There`s no formal chain saw training in their communities. They observe other people using one and then they do it themselves. We`re going to teach them how to use one properly and safely and let them have fun while they are learning.”
Food is always one of the most popular features of the camp and is provided by a mobile military field kitchen. “The cooks go out of their way to give the kids treats they often don’t get at home,” Captain Mc Neil said.
The camp staff of 50 will include Canadian Rangers and regular and reserve members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
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 at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)