Regional Outdoor Leadership Program Brings Students Together

Submitted by Rivershed Society of BC –

Two women who travelled the length of the Fraser River together in 2016 as part of the Sustainable Living Leadership Program (SLLP) have joined forces to design, develop, and deliver a new experiential learning program this year on the Lower Fraser River.

Exploring the delta of The Might Fraser River near Coquitlam on the SLLP (2016) . Photo: Oliver Berger

Petra Markova and Megan Rempel are from Port Coquitlam, BC and are passionate about sustainability in their community. While paddling on the river, they had an idea that a similar but more accessible trip should be held to engage more people in outdoor education. Little did they know, the Rivershed Society of BC has aspired towards expansion in its programming and now Markova and Rempel are bringing that dream to life.

The goal of the Rivers Clinic for Environmental Leaders (RCEL) is to provide a short, regional educational program that targets the needs of specific areas along the Fraser River Watershed. Participants will be given opportunities to build strong bonds with one another and the bio-region they call home.

The RCEL takes place June 1 – 3 this year and will engage 20 students from various institutions in the Lower Mainland. A clinic style approach is used to inspire and strengthen relationships between participants by providing space for team building, positive discussion, and planning time in nature. Participants will paddle along the Fraser River from Kwantlen to Musquem Territory in 34-foot voyager style canoes.

Summarized Itinerary
Day 1 – Introductions
Participants arrive at Glen Valley Regional Park and learn about each other, the RSBC, and the Rivers Clinic. Orientation to program and camping systems. First meeting with the Fraser on a river walk and nature sit-stay. End of night share-out circle and discussion about student initiatives.

Day 2 – Strategize and Networking
Facilitated leadership styles and strategies discussion with activities. Paddle from Glen Valley to the Kwikwetlem First Nation territory. Free time to network or explore the land. Participate in a community dinner. Guided bat tour at Colony Farm Regional Park.

Day 3 – Inspiration and Commitment
Paddle from Kwikwetlem to Musquem, with a break in New Westminster. Guest speakers share their stories and the importance of working with others. Participants brainstorm and make a commitment to a solution. Final closing circle and trip highlight.

Over the 15 years the Rivershed Society of BC has been running the SLLP, it has developed into a solid and influential program for all its participants. Spending a month in the outdoors is part of what makes the SLLP so influential, but the time commitment is a struggle for many individuals. The regional program aims to include key aspects of the SLLP while reducing the length of the trip to make it more available as well as narrowing the target audience. Post-secondary students were chosen for the first year because there is a lack of collaboration between institutions in the Lower Mainland.

The RCEL has a workable framework that can be used to create similar programs in every other region of the Fraser River Watershed. The ultimate vision is to have multiple programs running annually in various areas that cater to multiple community groups. It’s an exciting opportunity that will build a powerful change-making network in our communities.

To learn more, please visit our webpage at www.rivershed.com/RCEL.

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