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The rain, the bugs, the sleeping bag, the BEARS—that’s what it’s all about. Spending time in the wilderness—canoeing, hiking and camping—is the ultimate exercise in character building! It is one of those life experiences that we carry with us forever. The chance to face our fears and overcome obstacles, the feeling of resilience and the fun of staying positive in spite of life’s challenges—these skills cannot be taught in a classroom.
That’s what propels the TROOP program, a unique partnership that has been growing and transforming lives for more than 10 years. Toronto Police Service Recreational Outreach
Out-tripping Program (TROOP) brings together at-risk youth aged 13 – 19 with police officers, counsellors and social workers to go on the camping trip of a lifetime. It is designed to help the youth build leadership skills while cultivating a positive relationship with the police. There’s nothing like tipping over together in a canoe, or the taste of chocolate cake after a particularly grueling hike, to help people appreciate and understand each other’s experiences. The program also allows youth to develop long-lasting friendships with their peers, earn a certificate in canoeing, and experience wilderness and an environment that many of them have never seen before.
This year, two Interval House children’s counsellors received special training from TROOP to meet the Ontario standard for safety developed for canoeing and kayaking called ORCKA. The course taught them how to paddle, the different kinds of strokes, and how to handle emergencies such as bad weather and medical situations. Now certified Level 1 in Basic Canoeing, both counsellors were qualified to portage and paddle like pros during the annual camping trip that took place this year from August 11-15. Again we heard amazing reports from the outdoor adventure, with several requests from participants about doing it again next year. Bugs, bears and all.