Having been a participant with Power To Be for almost 5 years, participant Ross Johnson has attended all kinds of adventures. His favourite activities include camping overnights, social nights, voyageur canoe, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Ross’s favourite memory with Power To Be was the time he hiked to Cougar Caves in his pajamas during an overnight at Camp Barnard. 

 Originally from Vancouver, Ross moved to Victoria in August 2002 in order to be closer to his mom. He is an autistic savant, who can tell you the day of the week for any date between 1900 and 2020 (he tells me I was born on a Saturday). Ross’s “Jurassic Crew” joins him on a lot of adventures, which includes ten dinosaurs: Terry, Finn, Grimlock, Buddy, Jacque, Ruby, Louise, Stag, and Horacio; and four dragons: Draco, Elliot and Toothless and Stormfly (who have separate heads, but share a body). 

 When I asked Ross why he likes coming to Power To Be he said it is because we have helped him reach “so many goals”. Ross has overcome fear, become more resilient, and had huge feelings of accomplishment from his time on programs. He also loves to see others involved in programs, especially our awesome volunteers and participants who use our TrailRiders. Ross is always keen to help staff check tire pressure in the vans before big adventures, and he is a big fan of the reflection time he has gotten during “floating sit spots” on paddling programs.

 As a member of the Power To Be team since 2016, I have been lucky to spend lots of time adventuring with Ross all over the Greater Victoria Area. I’ve seen him grow as an outdoor enthusiast, a leader, and a person. Ross always comes to program ready to share his latest adventures and to help newer participants get to know Power To Be. It has been a real pleasure to get to know Ross over these last four years.

 Outside of Power To Be, Ross is has been an active volunteer with Burnaby Central Railway for twenty years. He helps to set up miniature trains, and he is a train engineer. Ross also holds the unofficial World Record for most trips on Via’s flagship train “The Canadian” which links Toronto to Vancouver. Ross has completed a total of 116 trips as of January 27th, 2020 with another 4 trips booked and ready to be travelled this year. In 2018 Ross was featured in an AMI TV documentary, called “Have Cane, Will Travel”, which is available on YouTube. Also on YouTube is Ross’s personal channel where he has over a thousand subscribers. He is also the Administrator of two Facebook Groups, one that provides a place for Via Rail discussion and sharing, and another which shares information about the Via Preference Reward Program.

 When asked how long he wants to stay involved with Power To Be, Ross said “this is going to be a lifelong thing, for sure…just seeing all the joy of everyone doing things they couldn’t normally do. It’s just good to see”.

This blog was written by Em McFarland, one of Power To Be‘s amazing Program Facilitators. With a lifetime of outdoor experiences, Em’s certifications include sea kayaking, canoeing, and wilderness first aid. When she isn’t leading programs, you can find her hiking through the forest or paddling down a river.