With a little collaboration, youth at Jewison House were able to experience winter camping in a safe way up north at Heritage Lake.

The trip was welcomed by the youth and staff given camping this past summer was cancelled.

“It really has been hard for everyone the last nine months, so giving our youth something to look forward to and make the best of the situation we are in was our goal,” Brandon Radmacher, a youth care leader at Jewison, said.

“When our youth are able to experience camping in general, they grow so much. You can really see it in the moment and even when you are not at camp afterward, both adults and kids.”

The trip was made possible with the help of Matheson House in Prince Albert. Staff and youth helped set up the camp prior to the arrival of the Jewison group from the Pilot Butte campus.

Staff and youth followed COVID-19 protocols during the trip, which made the trip safe and didn’t take away from all the fun.

“Proper hygiene was taken seriously, and we made sure we were doing everything we could,” he said.

The youth certainly enjoyed the trip – not many people can say they’ve been camping in January!

“My favourite part was ice fishing with one of the caregivers,” said one youth.

Another added, “What I enjoyed most about the trip was fishing and sledding. I had fun. It was really nice to get outside because we couldn’t this summer. I really enjoyed doing everything on the trip.”

The youth also enjoyed experiencing nature and taking in the moment.

“How often do you see beautiful views and night skies like that?” said one youth. “It was really nice to get out.”

Brandon said trips like these are important because they strengthen relationships, and help youth build new memories, learn new skills, and provide them with something to look forward to.

“Our youth won’t forget those successes and it gives them the confidence to strive for more success,” he said. “Being together and doing everything together made it memorable and it really strengthens the relationships even more.”

Brandon said he’s very excited about the future of camping at Ranch Ehrlo and being able to implement all the CARE principles. He hopes more houses from the agency will one day be able to experience a winter camping weekend.