At Fracture, we love giving gifts. We also love celebrating individuals and organizations that give back to their community. Check out this story about a nonprofit summer camp from Ontario, Canada, called Project Canoe. The camp staff received Fractures as their annual gift last year. Executive Director Tim Richardson shared the story.
What is Project Canoe?
We use the outdoors, including wilderness canoe trips, to create a transformative environment in which youth develop life skills, social competencies and resiliency, thereby fostering their own personal success. We partner with our youth, supporting them as they carry these skills and successes forward to manage the complex challenges of their lives.
Project Canoe’s programs are designed to meet the needs of youth who face barriers. These may include social, emotional, behavioral, learning or economic barriers that increase the risk factors related to youth developing: resilience, life skills, social competencies and a feeling of personal success.
Many of the youth that we serve are in Foster Care or in the care of the Children’s Aid Society or other mental health agencies. The majority of youth that we serve, approximately 75%, are new to the outdoors and even the bus ride up to Algonquin Park is outside of their comfort zone. As a result, we rely on our agency partners to help select the youth that are suitable for our trips and would most benefit from exposure to the outdoors.
What inspired you to join Project Canoe?
A love of the outdoors and the transformative impact of canoe trips! I discovered a lot about myself on my first ever canoe trip and I wanted to share the experience with others. It’s a rite of passage in Canada that sadly many young people don’t have the opportunity to experience! It transformed who I am and I’ve seen it transform others time after time.
How long has PC been around?
We are coming up to our 40th Anniversary next year.
What is the goal of PC?
We want to empower youth who face barriers in their lives to identify their unique and individual strengths so that they may build their capacities to chart positive futures for themselves and their communities. We will advocate for our youth and build broader support for alternative, dynamic approaches to youth development.
What happens to a young person when you introduce them to the great outdoors?
So much! There are so many benefits to canoe trips they are almost too many to list. In the moment, they are energized by the outdoor setting. Being out in the wilderness in a place that is completely different from their urban home context moves them.
Many youth tell us they discover that they are stronger, funnier, and more resilient than they thought. They build a relationship with the natural world that stays with them. As a result, these long-term impacts can stay with a youth for years, decades, and their entire life.
Youth continually report to us that their experiences with Project Canoe have helped them realize that they are capable of succeeding in many aspects of life that they previously felt were completely out of reach. Our evaluation data also shows significant increases in participants’ empathy, sense of self-efficacy and environmental awareness.
What were these awards for?
Our staff works incredibly hard all summer creating these experiences for young people. The work is intense and requires long hours to ensure the best possible trips. We try to find ways of recognizing the amazing work the staff leaders do, and the Fractures were perfect.
What’s the story behind the cartographer/artist that made the maps?
Jeff grew up tripping in Algonquin Park and other nature settings. He isn’t a cartographer, didn’t study geography (I think), but just has a passion for maps. He made his own just for himself and the idea took off. You can find out more at http://www.algonquinmap.com.
Where is Project Canoe going?
We continually focus on bringing this special experience to as many youth as we can. Our staff is dedicated to bringing our program to more youth who wouldn’t be able to reach it otherwise. We think every kid should be able to experience a canoe trip, regardless of the social, emotional, financial or other barriers they face.
How did you hear about Fracture?
Podcast advertising. It sounded really cool and we looked it up!
Really amazed and positive! It gives them a way of looking back at their summer and the trips they led visually.
Some quotes from the counselors:
“I am really impressed by the quality of the image we got. It looks exactly like the actual map, and the glass looks really nice on the wall. The packaging was well designed to protect the glass, which I really appreciate. Overall, this was a great gift to receive!”
“It was really cool, I was very impressed. I was not expecting something this cool. My expectations were exceeded.”
Pretty cool, right? You can visit https://canoe.org/ to learn more.
We love to help celebrate the impactful people in your life.