Ultimate outdoor school

They call themselves 2 CRPG which means 2nd Group of the Canadian Ranger Patrol (the acronym makes better sense in the original French 2e Groupe de patrouilles des Rangers canadiens). In the sparsely populated area of extreme northern Quebec, something wonderful is happening among a group of rangers, and they have cameras!

In this wide swath of land stretching from the Maritimes on up and around Hudson Bay, 696 Rangers and 585 Junior Canadian Rangers coalesce around 27 patrols and communities. What this means is basically the most ultimate year-round outdoor school cadet/scout program anyone could image. But there’s more. This region is incredibly diverse with five major languages intermixing (English, French, Inuktitut, Cree, and Montaganis) and each communities’ demographics vary from the next. Often, according to their videos, 2 GRPG ends up a mix of Inuit, white, and minority tribal peoples of which some are trilingual, and learning how to become rangers together.

Some of the names of the communities are incredible: Akulivik, Kuujjuaq, Puvirgnituq, St. Paul’s River.

Alright, big deal, a bunch of people up north doing what rangers do. Here is the beauty in the numbers listed above – those 595 Junior Canadian Rangers, they’re kids. Preteens. Teenagers. Young adults. Some of them are in leadership within their age brackets, others aren’t Rangers but staff, and you can imagine how many volunteers this sort of program takes.

Take a look at white teens learning from Inuit teens how to cook, sew nets, and carve wood:

It’s no secret that I adore everything Canadian, but this is incredible. 2 CRPG holds pow wows back to back with bagpipe exhibitions. They run obstacle courses and teach each other how to throat sing. They do everything an Eagle Scout might accomplish in his or her full scout experience, but layer in the indigenous (and clearly vibrant) cultures, languages and traditions. This would be like sending your children upriver one summer where the Army Corps of Engineers holds a leadership camp facilitated by elders of the Cherokee nation, while learning foreign languages, how to survive in the wilderness, and work in a diverse team environment. Training & experience like this can have no price tag.

Here, two adolescent Inuit girls throat sing with one another. This ancient form of singing is done arm-in-arm and originally was used to convey news and stories. This is something most people rarely if ever have a chance to see or experience in their lifetimes. At 2 CRPG though, it’s giggletime.

If I experienced this as a child I would remember it for the rest of my life. I haven’t even been there and I cherish what is happening in northern Quebec. I feel like after I watch their videos my eyeballs and brains are clean. We can coexist! Funny, how I bet no one there is talking about coexisting. Because they are doing it.

I want to support these people, and people like this. Whomever pulls this together every year thank you and may you have a long and healthy rule. What an inspiration. Eighteen awesome videos on their vimeo channel are waiting for you, check it if you want it.

Long ago I myself was an outdoor school counselor. Camp Tadmore, Oregon, played host to two years of my efforts with groups of insane sixth graders often out of their parents clutch for the first time over long weekends. It was incredible for me, because I remember when I went to outdoor school myself in the exact same place when I was a sixth grader. The legends, the spooky woods, the squeal-worthy adventures. Beyond the fact that my nickname after my second year as a counselor was Barn Burner (I may or may not have accidentally set my cabin on fire, with all the kids sleeping in it), it was something I will never forget. I can only imagine the magnitude of the experience here with this program.

Here, camp counselors and staff prepare for the coming junior rangers by brushing up on their kayak skills and strengthening their bonds in preparation. Looks like an awesome team of humans.

One Response to “Ultimate outdoor school”
  1. Carrie P says:

    Sign me up. I love your love for Canada, Aaron. And this post makes me really happy… may they live long fruitful lives indeed! -cp

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