Adventures at GOBC Kimberley!

By Michele Walter

“I am very ready to make a difference in my community. The GOBC leaders did a wonderful job bringing the event together and preparing us for making a positive impact on our communities.” - GOBC 2016 Participant

The 2016 Get Outside BC – Kimberley Community Summit was a big success! Three coordinators, eight youth, and one GOBC Intern camped in the gorgeous Kokanee Creek Provincial Park in the Kootenay region, joined by three inspiring community members. It was truly an enriching week for everyone.

Day 1: 

It was a muggy day, with the threat of rain on the horizon, when eight youth from Kimberley tumbled off the bus into the forests of Kokanee Creek Provincial Park. They had arrived for a week full of laughter, learning, and camping.

The first day opened with a welcome from Chris Luke, an elder and past Chief of the Ktunaxa First Nation. Chris is a mid-height man, with a kind, weathered face that might remind you of your favorite grandparent. He has a great love for his grandchildren and if you chat with him, you’ll quickly learn about the many sports his granddaughter has played.

Not only is Chris a grandfather and past Chief, but he is also a compelling storyteller. In his traditional dress, he shared stories from his life, weaving in lessons about leadership and compassion. It is easy to feel his passion for life and excitement through the stories he tells.

Chris left the group with his biography Drags Grizzly, a powerful story about growing up on the Lower Kootenay Band reservation. It was a great honor and pleasure to have a person with such a rich life and story join the camp. 

Later that evening, in the cool misty air, two young leaders Gwen and Kaia led the group to a trail in the forest leading out of the campsite. The group ended up traversing through the forest to a wetland and finally emerged at a tiny secluded beach with silky soft golden sand.

There, in this quiet space, participants sat down, enjoying the first long silence of the day. They later journaled and reflected on the day and their goals for the summit.

The day finished around a soft sunset-coloured fire, around which the young leaders shared their art pieces they submitted as part of their application to GOBC. These included videos, songs, poetry, and photography. Each piece addressed the question: “Why is the outdoors important to YOU and why should it be important to other youth in your community?” It was a compelling experience for the GOBC Coordinators, and really showed the participants’ love of nature and being outside.

As the night settled in, little red lanterns were placed around the tents, bringing in a little magic to the circle of tents. 

Day 2:

Zzzz…the campers, still safely snuggled in their sleeping bags were softly drawn back into the world by the gentle sounds of an old harmonica. Coordinator Kate called out to the sleepy campers: “It’s time for our Polar Bear Swim!” Putting on bathing suits, the campers stumbled along the trail to the beach. As they arrived at the waterfront, they tiptoed into the shallow water and slowly walked out to a point where they could semi-submerse in the chilly water of the Kokanee River. First polar bear dip complete.

After a delicious breakfast of bagels and fruit, the first guest of the day arrived. Hanno Southam is a tall, brown haired young person with an easy going, peaceful vibe. A GOBC 2011 alumnus and current Environmental Science student, he is also an experienced leader. He joined the young leaders to facilitate an introductory leadership workshop and talk about his leadership journey after GOBC.

Later, Rob Macdonald, BC Parks Ranger and Section Head for Protected Areas (East Kootenay) arrived. Ranger Rob has a great love of being in nature and a passion for conservation. He has been a huge advocate for GOBC and getting youth outside from the beginning of the program.

Though Ranger Rob has many skills, it is fair to say that bear safety and awareness is a topic he knows well. With his co-worker Jim, he ran a memorable workshop on Bear Identification and Safety.

Halfway through the workshop, the young leaders heard a large rustling come from the bushes. They all sat up right (having been lounging for the most part) and quickly swivelled their heads to gauge what the noise was. Slowly the head of a grizzly bear emerged from the greenery, its brown fur brushing against the bushes. They sat and stared, eyes wide. As the bear’s whole body emerged, no one moved. As it walked closer, they could see it had pants on; puzzled, they looked up and the face of Ranger Jim smiled down at them. Relieved, but also still alert, they continued to watch Ranger Jim to see what would happen next.

Suddenly, Tyra, the intern, sprang up from her place on the grass and sprayed the bear/Ranger Jim with a cloud of white mist. Stumbling backwards the bear/Ranger Jim retreated into the forest surrounding the camp. They applauded as Ranger Jim returned to the camp, shedding his bear skin.

After a fantastic performance, the young leaders practiced using real hairspray and were taught how to test the wind to make sure it wouldn’t fly back in their own faces.  That was definitely a highlight of the camp for many young leaders. What an exciting morning!


The afternoon was more relaxed with a “Zen Doodling Art” workshop run by Lori Joe, our stellar Regional Coordinator, and Tyra. Lori is a fun, outgoing, vibrant person, who brings her passion for art and love of the outdoors into everything she does. She has been a part of GOBC for the past six years and has been instrumental in guiding GOBC participants in the three other phases following the summit.

To top off a very full day, the campers settled into a circle around a fire to play a storytelling game called Werewolf.

Day 3:

The third day began with an overcast sky and low-lying charcoal gray clouds. The young leaders started their day planning their events to get other youth outside as part of the next GOBC phases. Some pretty amazing mock events got planned! Some examples include Splash into Summer: a day of fun activities, sports, and food to kick off summer at a local lake, Walk 4 Wildlife: a marathon for all ages to raise money for a charitable cause, and #Ark2016: a cross country marathon with prizes.

In the afternoon, everyone piled into a car and headed up the local Kokanee Mountain to go ziplining! They were welcomed by Todd Manton, one of the owners, who gave us a background on himself and why he started his Zipline company. He is an experienced outdoor guide and has completed a total of three university degrees! His advice to the young leaders: experiment with jobs to find what you really love.

The last day closed with a discussion on how the young leaders would support each other in the next stages of the program and how they could hold themselves accountable.

And that wraps up GOBC 2016!  The GOBC Coordination team looks forward to seeing what the youth will plan in their communities and supporting them along the way in the next few months!


For more related information:

Get Outside BC

BC Parks

Learn-to Camp Experiences with Parks Canada and MEC

Ziplining in the Kootenays