Canadian expedition thrills young adventurers with wildlife spectacle

Mairi Shimmins, Emma Howard, Katia Tastagh, Fergus Veale, Lucy Titley, Tom Anderson and Sam Chapman

Mairi Shimmins, Emma Howard, Katia Tastagh, Fergus Veale, Lucy Titley, Tom Anderson and Sam Chapman

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Black bears and killer whales awaited seven teenagers who have just completed a three-week expedition to Canada’s Vancouver Island.

The youngsters were part of Adventurous Experiences’ Youth Scholarship – Development and Leadership Programme.

The trip saw the group learning to work as a team in a challenging environment where decision making was key.

Every night they camped and during they day they used whatever mode of transport most suited the objectives of the expedition.

These included kayaking around the northern coasts of Vancouver Island and hiking in the Strathcona National Park.

Close encounters and interaction with wildlife formed a key part of the education process.

The group was lucky enough to encounter deer, black bears, grey whale, and humpback whales.

Expedition leader and company director Keirron Tastagh said a particular highlight for the team was getting a close up look at a pod of orcas from their wild campsite.

Vancouver Island is known for being able to watch the whales coming close into the shore to rub their bellies against the gravel beach.

Keirron said: ‘Dealing with dynamic and changing conditions is fundamental to a long-term positive attitude.

‘The constant challenge of problem solving whilst dealing with adversity is embraced, and dedication, perseverance and team work pays off.

‘The team effort was exemplary, and it was a real pleasure to lead such a motivated group.’

In preparation for the trip, the team completed 18 months of training with Adventurous Experiences.

The training programme was open to all year 12 students (ages 16 and 17) from the island’s secondary schools in autumn 2013 and it was funded by the company.

Office manager John Keggin said: ‘As our main community project, we fund the entire leadership and development training program, with students contributing towards their costs for the expedition only.’

In total, 22 students were accepted into the programme, with applicants from four of the six schools. Seven continued their commitment to it through a self-selection process.

One of the students, Fergus Veale, who has just completed his A-levels at Castle Rushen High School has been offered a full time apprenticeship role at Adventurous Experiences working alongside the coaching team.

• Kierron and the team will visit schools in the autumn term to give details about the next programme, due to start in January 2015 with an expedition planned for 2016.

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