It’s not every day that someone has the chance to climb some of the greatest mountain spires in the world. Even in a geographically spectacular region like the Kootenays, the sheer weight of the logistics of such a trip can be enough to push one to pursue easier athletic pursuits.
“We’re in a unique situation here, because we live close to the world-famous Bugaboos, but no one and no locals really know about it,” said Pat Morrow, chairman of the Conrad Kain Centennial Society (CKCS).
In an effort to open the eyes of youth from across the region to some of the wonderful opportunities presented by the stunning landscape, the Bugaboos Teen Mountaineering Camp will take place this year from July 20 to 22, sponsored by the CKCS, Canadian Mountain Holidays, Friends of Bugaboo Park, the Alpine Club of Canada, the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and BC Parks.
The camp aims to increase youth appreciation for protected areas in parks by taking them on a guided three-day excursion to scale some of the greatest peaks in the area. The camp is aimed at East Kootenay students in grades 10 and 11 in Invermere, Kimberley, Cranbrook, Creston Fernie and Golden, and applicants are asked to have their submissions in by the June 7 deadline.
“I’m trying to get local kids out and discover what mountain climbers and hikers from around the world have known for 40 or 50 years,” Morrow said. “It’s something that is world class and it’s in our own backyard.”
The camp is based out of the Alpine Club of Canada’s Conrad Kain Hut near Canmore in the Bugaboos, and teaches youth a wide range of skills, from the basics of snow and glacier travel to self-arrest and basic technical climbing. The camp also provides a gateway to potential career opportunities in the fields of conservation, park rangers, or even photography.
“In bringing local kids out there, it breaks them out of their daily routine and gives them a chance to have a completely new experience,” Morrow said. “It’s an opportunity for self-discovery.”
Parks Canada also has a vested interest in the camp as it gives them potential future recruits and encourages the students to pass on a positive message to students at their respective high schools.
“They are the ones who will assume stewardship of the land, so we want to inspire them to be out in the parks and appreciate the wilderness,” said Columbia area BC Parks supervisor Jeff Volp in a release. “And hopefully they will set an example for younger kids to disconnect from their iPhones and head out into the mountains.”
The camp has been running since 2009, and has made four separate excursions in that time. It was originally intended as a one-off trip into the mountains for youth as part of the centennial celebration of mountain guide Conrad Kain first coming to Canada, but after the amazing feedback from the roughly 25 participants so far, the decision was made to make it an annual event.
“It’s an attempt to educate kids about the importance of the stewardship of the environment,” said Morrow. “We want kids who have a realistic view of what they’re getting themselves into.”
The camp is completely free, but has a limit of ten participants this year. In order to qualify, applicants must complete a short essay that explains the following: “Why are parks important to you and your community, and why do you want to be a part of this program.” As well, a brief description of their outdoor experience and age must be included. The deadline is Thursday, June 7 and successful applicants will be contacted by June 10. To apply, contact the CKCS at email@example.com or call Pat Morrow at 250-341-3554 for more information.