The staff and youth at Matheson House in Prince Albert have a special Christmas gift for the other northern programs. The team worked hard to prepare an outdoor getaway at Ranch Ehrlo’s camp at Heritage Lake.

“This year groups may not be able to go to the pool, or ski hill, or each other’s kitchen table like in pre-COVID times, however the great outdoors is still available to us all,” explained Ron Schlamp Matheson House unit manager. 

He added, “Right now, there are so many things we can’t do, and people just need a purpose. I thought if we could rally our kids around a purpose, something in the spirit of giving around this season, it would bring joy.”

the special tree

To maintain social distancing, each of the four groups was invited on a separate day leading up to Christmas for their winter wonderland experience. Once arriving on site, programs are requested to find a decorated "charlie brown" tree outside and underneath they would find presents!

Other activities available include snowshoeing, ice fishing, or just sitting around a cozy fire with some snacks and hot chocolate. Matheson House chopped wood, shovelled paths, and have all the outdoor gear prepared in advance for their guests.

Ron also included a video in his invite that shows the Heritage property and what kinds of activities are available. He wanted to make sure to show that the camp wasn’t too far away or scary, especially for the youth newer to Ranch Ehrlo.

Like many teenagers, when the idea was first proposed the youth at Matheson weren’t that excited but as soon as they got involved in the project, the excitement took over.

“Matheson House is doing a very creative and active thing, not just for themselves but everyone in the north. This is amazing for these older youth to think of others and want to do things like this,” stated Pam Dmytriw, vice-president of residential services.  

“This idea of being outdoors, of getting fresh air brings solace - at least it always has for me,” Ron added.  “The stars, the trees, the snow, it is magical. We can’t do many of the things we used to but there is a great big wilderness we can take advantage of.”