Fifty-five Sylvan Lake youth, ages 10 – 15, had the opportunity to travel to the Tim Horton Children’s Ranch in southern Alberta last weekend.
The Tim Horton Children’s Ranch, opened in 1991, is spread out over 150 acres in beautiful Kananaskis Country, Alberta. Participants at “the Ranch” have the unique experience of living in the Canadian Rockies, and participating in horseback riding, rock climbing, white water rafting and more. Traditional camp activities like camping, swimming and arts & crafts are also offered.
Krista Carlson, Town of Sylvan Lake FCSS Youth Services Supervisor explained the local Tim Horton’s restaurant in Sylvan Lake sponsored the 55 youth and six staff members on their journey to the camp – an opportunity many local youth wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“The kids that went were either referred by their school or through the youth centre. A large portion of the 55 kids who went are youth centre members but we wanted to ensure that those who went were kids who could really benefit from that type of opportunity,” said Carlson. “They are kids who show leadership within our programs and in their school but also kids who are just great kids and could use a break.”
When the kids arrive at camp, Carlson explained they are split up into four groups where they then begin to earn their ‘GR8 Beads’ by participating in various activities.
The camp explains on their web page that the GR8 Beads is a tool that has been enhanced to reinforce our intended outcomes with campers and staff in an engaging and memorable way.
“The eight beads illustrated create tangible connections to the research-based skills and attitudes that we know are important in positive youth development. These eight values are at the core of our programming and serve as the inspiration for this report,” details Tim Horton’s website.
Beads include: goal setting, teamwork, responsibility, peace, relationships, reflection, challenge and motivation. Campers participate in activities that help them to lean and practice these skills and at the end of the weekend they are given a bracelet with their GR8 Beads on them.
“The weather was great. The kids were amazing and the whole camp was just stellar – it’s the only word I can use to describe it,” said Carlson. “The focus is to develop eight aspects of themselves they want to grow or learn in so all of the activities are based on collecting those eight beads and working towards them.”
“We are able to build relationships much quicker than if we were to have them come to our weekly programs for a few hours every week. We have all sort of started to feel like we are a part of this bigger Tim Horton’s Ranch family now and that’s something that they stress while at the camp.”
She added the camp is a high energy environment where a sense of healthy competition is present.
“Staff from Sylvan Lake got the chance to go also, four youth services staff and two staff members one from Fox Run School and one from C.P. Blakely,” “What this allows for is the fast track of relationships. You’re confined in one area and participating in activities that push kids to get out of their comfort zones. Through us encouraging them through this it really helps to fast track the relationships we are building with them.”