Melissa Sutton

by FORP on May 13th, 2013

Physical Education Teacher, Branksome Hall Asia
McCreight’s Dam Ontario Ranger, 2004

When I was driven up to McCreight’s Dam in 2004, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The most information I had was from a pamphlet my Dad decided to pick up at the Leslie Frost Centre a few months earlier. Without anyone attesting to the program at this point, I was preparing myself to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere with a group of strangers that I would be forced to work, live, eat and breathe with for the following two months.
But like most other former Rangers, I can say with confidence that it took me little time to adjust, and to become accustomed to a way of life that would break my heart to leave in two months time.
The Ontario Ranger program encouraged an immense amount of growth in me: A love of learning, a new appreciation for the environment, independence, acquaintance with hard work, and a sense of place. Although I grew up with the familiarity of the outdoors, it is due largely to the Ranger program that I went on to study Outdoor Recreation and to acquire a teaching degree with a specialization in Outdoor Education and Environmental Science. It is the reason I went on to work in various Residential Camps and Outdoor Centers, and why I am now a teacher trying my best to foster a love of the outdoors in my students. The Ontario Ranger program has and always will be one of the main reasons I am doing what I’m doing, and why I believe so strongly in inspiring youth to get outside.
After my own remarkable experience at Rangers, three of my younger siblings went on to complete the program in different locations across Ontario. It devastates me that my youngest brother will not be a Ranger next summer and will not have the change to share in our love of the program. Ontario Rangers is an experience that I wish would not be denied to any youth.  It is a life changing educational and emotional growing experience that I sincerely thank for shaping me into the person I am today.

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