Covid-19 has impacted so many aspects of life here in B.C. This is no different when it comes to programs at Power To Be. We have remained attentive to the guidelines presented by Bonnie Henry, and in doing so have had to remain adaptable and creative in order to continue serving our participants. The Wilderness School specifically has been at the frontlines of this transition due to the unique, ongoing relationship we have with the teens in our program. This relationship has enabled the Wilderness School to be the first to pilot multiple program models to remain flexible to the changing needs and regulations. The first of these programs was our stream of virtual programming, which was offered to both Wilderness School cohorts, our alumni, and our family roots program. Our Open Adventure program followed with virtual programming shortly after.

The virtual programs served as a space for the youth to reconnect, chat, and reflect on weekly topics chosen by the facilitators. Themes ranged from self-care and routine building, to reflecting on which type of food you felt like that day. As these programs continued to run, we noticed the needs of our participants shifting, screen fatigue becoming more prominent and program attendance dropping. In conjunction with lifting restrictions, the Wilderness School team was able to create individualized program boxes which comprised of activities such as knot tying books, journals and identification pamphlets for local lands and waters. These boxes were delivered to each household, which offered a chance for socially distanced check-ins with the youth and their families. At the same time Power To Be was busy at work creating a back to program plan to welcome household groups back to programs at Prospect Lake. This allowed Wilderness School families, alumni, family roots families and later Community Groups and Open Adventure participants the chance to go hiking or canoeing with individuals in their “bubble”. Soon Power To Be will be offering longer day programs to those in the Wilderness School, allowing for the youth in the program to meet up again face to face for the first time since February.

Power To Be facilitators are well-practiced in the area of adaptation, flexibility and working with what we’ve got. Not unlike inclement weather or the unforeseen circumstances that often arise on a lengthy expedition, COVID-19 is another environmental factor that requires a nimble and innovative response. We will continue to remain attentive to the needs of our participants and strive to deliver the best programs we can offer during this time. Now more than ever we need to get outside and reconnect to the land because after all, everyone belongs in nature.

This blog post was written by Michelle Zimmer, a passionate and dedicated Program Facilitator at Power To Be. Michelle has certifications in sea kayaking, SUP board instruction, lifeguarding and wilderness first aid.