The co-ordinator of the Summit Youth Centre in Invermere, Magali Larochelle, recently organized an exchange between 13 local youth with their counterparts from Granby, Quebec — Magali’s hometown.
Each participating local youth was twinned with someone of the same age from the youth centre called La Barak de Granby, living with their paired family for a week and then vice-versa, though nearly every organized activity occurred as a group.
The local teens flew to Quebec first, where they were greeted by their new friends from Granby.
Magali said the initial contact was interesting to observe due to the language barrier, but the youths became increasingly comfortable as the week went on.
Though Granby offered the valley teens a much flatter landscape than what they’re used to, the teens embraced the French culture,
The favourite part of the week in Quebec was the trip to a zoo in La Ronge, Magali said, followed closely by shopping on St. Catherine Street in Montreal.
After a week’s break, the youth from Granby took their flight west and arrived in Invermere on Thursday, July 24th.
The reunion began at the Summit Youth Centre, where boxes of Peppi’s Pizza were waiting as their welcome dinner.
The first activity in Invermere was a scavenger hunt, which ended with the teens enjoying a bowl of gelati from Gerry’s Gelati.
The Summit youth took their Granby counterparts for a week-long mountain adventure. They spent one day at the cabin at Whitetail Lake; another day was spent at Lake Lillian; they took a tour through Kootenay National Park; and brought their new friends to Banff for a day. In Banff, they rode up the gondola, went shopping, and took tons of pictures, said Magali.
The Grays family funded a trip to Panorama Mountain Village, where the teens went rafting and played in the Fun Zone.
According to Magali, “they loved rafting.”
The Invermere Legion hosted the group for the final evening where the groups were treated to a hearty farewell meal.
“It was a really rich experience for the kids,” Magali said.
There was an emotional goodbye when the experience came to an end, she added. Magali observed many of the teens exchange contact information, and said the exchange will likely happen again next year.
The exchange was made very affordable through Society for Educational Visits and Exchanges in Canada, which subsidized the fares, allowing students to take part for only $200 — including all expenses. The trip was also financed through fundraising efforts facilitated by Valley Foods and Kicking Horse Coffee.
Tanya Dubois was the local chaperone and kept an eye on things in both provinces.