Last fall, Grade 10 Valemount student Shae-Lynn Carlson was nominated for an international touring trip with NBC Camps after attending a basketball camp in Edmonton last summer. She didn’t think she could afford it, and somewhat jokingly posted on Facebook asking to borrow $6,000 to pay for airfare, travel, lodging, uniforms, equipment and meals, as well as transportation to the camp before the 9-day international trip. The community quickly rallied and over the fall and winter raised well over $5,000 in US funds to help Shae-Lynn make the trip. Now heading into Grade 11, she’s just returned to Valemount; here is her story about her trip.

By: Shae-Lynn Carlson

As most of the Valemount community knows, I was offered the opportunity to travel to the UK to play basketball and sight-see, along with 18 other Canadian girls. I left onto this trip on June 27th, and returned on July 10th. I’m writing this article to express my thanks to all that helped me out, and to inform everyone of my experiences.

We landed in Heathrow airport at 9:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. B.C. time) on June 30th. We spent the first day walking (over 9 kms) throughout London in 30+ degree weather. One of my favorite things I saw was the Tower Bridge. We walked along it and took many pictures. I also walked along the London Bridge (and resisted the temptation of singing London Bridge is Falling Down). We saw the London Tower and read about its history. The architecture throughout the city was absolutely breathtaking.

Our main source of transportation other than walking was The Tube (an underground railway). Coming from a small town, it was incredible to see how busy the tube was, and the constant rush people were in to get to where they needed to be.

We played our first game against a four-time national winning team, which consisted of players who had previously played for the England team. Needless to say, we were beaten pretty badly. Although we lost by a long shot, it was great to be able to see how each girl played and to identify how to work with them. The next game we played, I immediately noticed a difference in our team work.

One of the highlights of my trip was to see my celebrity crush Channing Tatum in person. He was at the premiere of one of his movies, and luckily we came across it just as he was walking down the red carpet

The next day we took a tour around London on an open top tour bus, and unexpectedly a car crashed into the side of it. Although a scary situation, I found this hilarious as it portrayed a true representation of the driving in London.

We travelled to Loughborough to stay one night and play another game. By this time, I had begun to get to know most of the girls better. It was a challenge to travel to a foreign country with a bunch of strangers (teenage girls no less), but overall the group was very accepting. My coach Brad Bolton was incredible and dealt with any issues before they reached the surface.

I loved being able to witness coaching styles other than the one I’m used to, it allowed you to tackle skills in a different manner. I found that girls from different provinces had a different style of play, whether from the Northwest Territories, B.C., Saskatchewan or Alberta.

We travelled to Chester and Manchester to do a little bit more sightseeing along with playing some games. Nearing the end of the trip we drove to Blackpool for a 3-day stay. We visited Pleasure Beach (a large outdoor amusement park), spent time in an arcade, saw a sunset on the ocean, and saw the Blackpool Tower

I made a few lifelong friends, and have memories that will last for eternity. The trip further positively shaped my thoughts on basketball; it made me value the sport and how lucky I am to be able to play. It’s incredible to see how diverse the sport is, and how loved it is all over the world. Interacting with the many personalities involved on this trip opened my eyes to the outside world. Living somewhere as small as Valemount, I don’t often get to see other’s perspectives on a lot of situations. The girls were incredible and I value what they taught me.

I want to thank each and every person who helped contribute to the cost of my trip, every penny helped. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of the community, specifically Ellen and Jason Van Der Wilk, and Marian Plummer.

I can’t wait for my next trip! :)

Shae-Lynn highly recommends attending NBC Camps to any aspiring athlete in soccer, volleyball or basketball. “They could have the opportunity to participate in one of the tours, and I strongly say that it was incredible,” she says. “Even if they don’t attend the tours, the camps are amazing.”