Pamela Jean (Pickett)

Posted on March 25th, 2013

Racine Lake Ontario Ranger, 1979
In 1977, my brother headed off to be a ‘Junior Ranger’ at White Lake Provincial Park.  When he returned two months later, with stories of the work he did on canoe trips and the amazing wilderness adventures he experienced, I knew that I too was going to be a Junior Ranger.

I remember so clearly arriving by train at 3:30 in the morning, feeling so nervous and tired.  Being from the city, I had never been on a bush road before, so the school bus ride to camp seemed to take forever - and I was sure we hit every hole on the road.  When we finally arrived I was questioning what I had gotten myself into, and how was I going to spend two months at this place in the middle of nowhere. 

By the time my summer was over I had cooked and cleaned (two things that I had never had to do before). I had to do my own laundry, and what an experience that was, with an old wringer washer.  I learnt how to work and live with 35 others, I learnt how to compromise, and I learnt how to be part of a team. 
When it was canoe trip time, I thought ‘what a restful week this will be’ - - but what I surprise I was in for!  Before we could cross the portages we had to find them (they were so grown over that they were hard to spot), and then clear them of brush.  Once we were through, we had made them navigable for those to follow.

This was my turning point, spending nights under the stars and witnessing the northern lights.  It’s something that every youth should be able to experience, and I knew then that I wanted to help others experience these things as well.

I returned to the Ranger program in subsequent summers as a staff member, and got to see others arrive as I did, and leave with a new understanding of our vast and amazing province.  I was also fortunate enough to meet my husband while working in the Ranger program. 

Our older daughter Danielle was even shyer than I was at 17, and really did not want to participate in the Ranger Program, but finally agreed to give it a try.  We went to visit her part way through the summer and she couldn’t have cared less that we were there; she just wanted to get back to camp.  Our younger daughter Emily also became a Ranger, and was fortunate to be hired back as program staff, though her time has been cut short due to the cancelation of the program. 


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This blog is an online campagin against the closure of the Ontario Ranger Program. If you are interested in contributing please email us at: friendsoftheorp@gmail.com.
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