According to reports, OPERATION MUSHING VALE was an unmitigated success. The Valemount Junior Canadian Ranger winter exercise helped solidify winter camping skills, snowshoeing and handling a dogsled.
Submitted by Lieutenant Natasha Tersigni
Ten Junior Canadian Rangers (JCRs) from the Valemount JCR Patrol took part in their winter camping exercise “MUSHING VALE 2020” from January 24 – 26 at Small River, about 20km west of Tete Jaune.
Working with Cold Fire Creek Dogsledding, the JCRs learned about the history of dogsledding in central British Columbia and were taught how to properly handle the dogs, direct the sleds and even had the opportunity to lead a team of dogs out on the trails. Learning traditional skills and knowledge is a valuable aspect of the JCR program and ensures that JCRs learn the significance and relevance traditional skills still have today.
“The JCR program is focused on teaching youth Ranger skills, life skills, and traditional skills, which we were able to cover with this winter training exercise,” said Valemount JCR Patrol Commander Master Corporal Sheri Gee.
“Along with dogsledding, the JCRs spent the weekend winter camping and had the opportunity to learn winter survival techniques and to go snowshoeing which covered all three pillars of the JCR program.“
“We conduct two of these types of exercises per year and there are important skills and abilities that youth learn from these experiences. Life skills are skills they will be using for the rest of their life and included cooking, camp routine and working together in small teams. The traditional skills portion is important because we don’t want this knowledge being lost. The Canadian Ranger skills I think are life-saving skills so when these youth grow up and are out in the backcountry I don’t have to worry and I know they can take care of themselves and the people they might be with.”
For Junior Canadian Ranger Master Corporal Aubrey Scheller, who has been a member of the Valemount JCR patrol for three years, Exercise MUSHING VALE allowed him to take part in activities such as snowshoeing and dogsledding.
“The great thing with this weekend training, especially with the winter camping, is it is an opportunity for the JCRs to learn leadership skills. Whether it is setting up a tent or cooking dinner, they are learning how to work together to complete a task. They are learning to work together to find a solution to meet their goal and that is great to see,” said Scheller who is in Grade 10 at Valemount Secondary School. As a JCR Master Corporal, Scheller assists the Patrol Commander with the planning and delivery of training and exercises. In this role he is a leader and mentor to the younger JCRs.
“Since I have joined JCRs I have grown with my confidence level and leadership skills. When I joined, I was a 12-year-old kid and everyone else in the program was at least two years older than me. Very quickly they aged out and a bunch more youth joined and I was quickly put into leadership positions. It started as simple things such as getting fires started, showing people how to set up tents and it progressed from there.”
The Junior Canadian Ranger Patrol in Valemount has been operating for the past seven years and it is a free program opened to youth 12 to 18 years old. The patrol meets every
Wednesday, except the second Wednesday of the month, and conducts various activities and events based around the three pillars of the JCR program; Canada Ranger skills, life skills, and traditional skill. Patrol meetings are held at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 266 in Valemount and begin at 5:30 p.m. Anyone interested in joining the patrol is encouraged to attend the meetings and speak with JCR Patrol Commander Master Corporal Sheri Gee.