Ava Vanderbeek is a youth who has pursued and created projects that instil important Canadian values. Ava is the Director of the Canadian Rockies Youth Network. She is working hard to expand the network while building excitement and presenting to students, as well as assisting with action projects. In addition to her role in the Network, she is also working towards making the Canadian Rockies more accessible to new Canadians. Ava sees the Rockies as a symbol of Canadian identity. Ava’s project provides the opportunity for people to explore the parks and embrace their Canadian identity, no matter their circumstances. Materials for exploring the mountains are extremely expensive, and not attainable for everyone. Ava’s action project provides a camping kit for new either immigrated Canadians or people with limited resources.
The Alberta Rocky Mountains are a beautiful place for Canadians to resonate with nature and explore their identity. To some, the Rocky Mountains are a place to reflect, and simply just spend time in nature. This embracement of nature is seen as a fundamental part of Canadian culture. However, it is not accessible to everyone. Camping costs are expensive. Over the summer, Ava went on a backpacking trip and had an eye opening experience when she went shopping for a week’s supply of resources when she was going camping. The cost for camping gear was immensely high and it was difficult to obtain the supplies. This caused Ava to reflect on the hardships that people with fewer resources, or new Canadians face when trying to experience the Rocky Mountains.
Ava’s project provides a kit that new Canadians can use to enjoy the beauty of nature, without spending an unrealistic amount of money on materials. Ava’s kit consists of two tents, four sleeping pads, a cooler, two flashlights and all the information needed to recreate safely in the wilderness.
While pursuing her project, Ava met with Canada Parks in Edmonton. They have a similar program called the Learn to Camp Program. In the meeting, Ava talked about the content and where to store the kit. A challenge Ava faced is how to successfully include sleeping bags. After all, sleeping bags are an important component in comfortable camping. The reason the camping kit cannot contain sleeping bags is because of the need to wash them after each use. Ava wants this project to be self-sustaining, and it is unattainable for her to wash the sleeping bags every time they are used. As she continued to develop the details of her project, Ava met with CMH Heli- Skiing to perhaps sponsor and provide low cost gear for her camping kits. To keep the momentum, and to achieve more Ava reaches out to organizations who help mentor through each stage of her project.
Ava’s camping kit action project is an excellent example of youth participation in environmental protection. In response to her project gaining traction Ava said: “Sometimes I lose sight of my goals and the drive to pursue my project. Despite this loss of motivation, I find inspiration in my fellow youths who are also in pursuit of action projects. Our action projects inspire change. At the end of the day it is up to us to take action.” Ava’s camping kit allows people to embrace their Canadian identity, despite the tribulations they may face.
Here is a resource for learning about safe camping: