Posted on May 6th, 2013

Student, Dalhousie University
Esker Lakes Ontario Ranger, 2010
My parents fostered in me from a young age a love of the outdoors and the environment around me. I was encouraged to spend time outside rather than watching TV. It wasn’t until I was a Ranger with the Ontario Ranger Program that I fully realized how important the outdoors was to me. I heard about the Ontario Ranger program through my brother who was a Ranger in 2009. Hearing his stories of canoe trips, clearing trails, and working with First Nations in Moosonee, I knew I wanted to do it the following summer. 
A major aspect that made this program so unique was the fact that it physically removed you from your natural setting – you were living and working in a completely new, foreign environment. For me, and for most Rangers, it was the first time I had been that far away from home for an extended period of time. The drive up to camp was a long 7.5 hours – the odometer ticking off the miles from home. Knowing that I had driven less than halfway to the northernmost point of Ontario made me realize how vast Ontario really is. The many miles between me, and my comfortable, southern Ontario home seemed like an adventure, a challenge to overcome. 
Many Rangers who come from the Toronto area are struck with awe at their first sight of stars on a clear night, or the beauty of mist rising off a lake. From this connection with the outdoors grows awareness for the environment and the north. Northern Ontario often seems like very distant thought for many southern Ontario residents. The gap between the south and the north is huge, but bringing youth from the south to work in the north helps to bridge that gap. For me, the Ranger Program cultivated an appreciation of northern Ontario; the landscape, the culture, the quiet. I know that no matter where I am or what I am doing, I need to be able to feel that serenity that I found as a ranger, and only comes from being close to nature. To feel as at home in a place as I felt at Rangers is what I am always searching for.

by FORP on May 6th, 2013

Playwright, Toronto
Esker Lakes Ontario Ranger, 2006

The Ontario Ranger Program was a tradition in my family. My father was a Ranger in the 70s and returned as a Supervisor. I watched both my older brothers go through the program in their respective years, my one brother returning as Staff as well. I remember hearing stories from my father, looking at pictures of my brothers and dreaming about what it would be like when it was finally my turn. This program is in my blood.
Words cannot even begin to appropriately articulate my feelings towards the Ontario Ranger Program and what it has done for me. There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be the same person I am today had I not had Esker Lakes in my life. I have been so fortunate to experience the OR Program from two different perspectives, ranger and supervisor.
As a ranger, this program was monumental. I will be the first to admit that I was a very sad teenager. I didn’t know who I was, where I was going or what place I had in the world. My self-confidence and worth were next to microscopic. Rangers was the place that I learned the value of me and the work I did. I was challenged every day, whether it was on the worksite by my supervisors or by myself, trying to work up the courage to make new friends, open up and learn from the wealth of knowledge and experience everyone brought into that camp. I found within me more than I ever thought I had, and it breaks my heart to think that future generations of seventeen year olds in Ontario won’t have the opportunity I did.
As a supervisor, it was my chance to give back everything the program had given me. I got to witness young girls become young women. I saw other seventeen year old Lindsays find themselves and push their boundaries every day. I still have many past rangers on Facebook, and it warms my heart when I see them taking what they learned from the OR Program and putting it towards giving themselves the best future they possibly can. I don’t think there is a Ranger I’ve met who hasn’t told me that their summer in the Ranger Program changed their life.
In the wake of the government’s announcement to close this program, I think the flood of support, stories, memories, and petitions is testament to how vital the Ontario Ranger Program is to this province and its youth.  

by FORP on April 29th, 2013

Recent Business Administration Student, Nipissing University
Killarney Ontario Ranger, 2008

My friends thought I was crazy for wanting to spend my summer living and working in the woods, but I am so glad I did! The summer I spent working as a Ranger was one of the best times of my life and I still talk about it to this day (you can never have too many Ranger stories). 

I was a Ranger at Killarney Provincial Park, and although I spent many years camping with Girl Guides, this experience was way more than I thought it was going to be -  but in a good way! Rangers taught me to be more independent and more confident in myself.  It also taught me to work hard, both as an individual and as part of a team. The girls I met at Rangers were some of the most amazing people I had ever met, and although we came from different parts of the province, we found a way to come together as a group and become our own kind of family. 

Although I have chosen a career in business, I still take with me what I learned from the Ontario Ranger program.  Rangers gave me the confidence to move away from home and go to school in a different town. I still continue to get into the outdoors whenever I get the chance, and I have even been back to visit my old Ranger camp, although it’s completely changed now.

I took a chance on this program; I signed up without knowing much about it, other than what I had seen in a promotional video, and I didn’t know anyone else who was going.  But it turned out to be the best experience that I ever had, and I am so grateful for it! It should be something that other youth have an opportunity to experience. 

You’re probably going to read hundreds of these blogs. But that’s the point: Hundreds of stories, hundreds of Rangers and hundreds of reason to keep the Ontario Ranger program.

by FORP on April 29th, 2013

Director, Kinark Outdoor Centre
Ontario Ranger Program Partner and Supporter
The Kinark Outdoor Centre has been fortunate to be able to work with the Ontario Ranger Program for over 15 years. Our Centre facilitates therapeutic programs for a range of special needs populations, and each year our facility benefits from stewardship-focused work projects completed by the local Ranger team.

The Kinark Outdoor Centre, a program of Kinark Child and Family Services, is also a provider of change programs for ‘Youth At Risk’. Primary components of these programs are self-awareness, accepting responsibility, social skills and self-discipline. We have watched and implemented a number of program models for over two decades. Although the Ranger program is not specifically designed for this purpose, it presents as one of the best examples of a successful youth leadership and social responsibility intervention. I have always been impressed by the values, work ethic, civic responsibility and commitment of the Rangers who come to our site.

As a social service agency we believe that the Ontario Ranger Program is one of the most effective youth development programs created, and that research, evaluation and anecdotal records support the Ranger Program as a highly effective and supportive government-funded service. Please reconsider the decision to discontinue this excellent program.

Posted on April 22nd, 2013

University Student, Carelton University (Communication Studies) - Ottawa, ON
Sleeping Giant Ontario Ranger, 2010
Three years ago I applied for the Ontario Ranger Program, unaware of the huge effect it would have on my life.  In 2010, I was a shy teenager, uncomfortable in my own skin, and unsure of what I wanted to do with my future. I had always had a passion for the preservation of nature, and exploration of the outdoors - but coming from a highly populated city, I lacked opportunities to express those interests.  Fortunately, working for the Ontario Ranger Program provided me with a chance.
As a Ranger I broke out of my shell, and broke into loud country singing and dancing in the rain.  A full transformation! Living in such close quarters with 21 other girls left no room for tension. Everyone was true to who they were, and was accepted for that. Spending an entire summer with a group of such genuine, kind ladies provided us with lasting friendships and networking all across Ontario. Many of us still write letters by good ol’ snail mail, and attend annual summer reunions. Rangers is a part of who we are, and although I don’t see everyone as much as I’d like, they are, and always will be, my sisters.
Since that summer, I have gone off to Carleton University with confidence, and joined a variety of clubs and societies. The Ontario Ranger Program has inspired me to get involved in my community and give back to our beautiful province everything is has given me. I worry that future young people will not feel the same kind of pride, and love for their province as the Ontario Ranger Program instills.  And I am saddened to know that they will not be granted that chance to explore the beauty of our province with a sense of independence, and passion. I never would have thought our government would put such a small price on the successful development of young people.
Moreover, without the Ontario Ranger Program, how will today’s youth possibly learn what an ‘X’ off a nature trail means? It is not treasure, I can tell you that. But seriously, Rangers taught me to be confident with who I am, and welcome new opportunities with open arms. The Ontario Ranger Program may only have been one summer, but it provides experiences that fill a lifetime. 

Posted on April 22nd, 2013

Grade 11 Student - Cambridge, ON
For most of my life and especially over the past few years, I have had an interest in nature and the environment. I have been fortunate to see a lot of the natural environments around Ontario, and have gained an appreciation for what our province has to offer. This has inspired me to pursue an education in Ecology or Geography, so that I can make a difference in Canada's natural environment.

In grade 9, I was exploring different summer job options on the MNR website, and I stumbled across the Ontario Ranger Program. I watched the videos and read the information. The Ontario Ranger Program seemed like a great way for youth to gain experience, prepare for the future, and enjoy the outdoors at the same time.
So this year, in the summer of 2013, I would have been eligible to participate in the program. I was very excited to apply; it seemed like a win-win situation.

When I found out in the fall that the program was cancelled by the Ontario government, disappointment doesn't even begin to explain my feelings. After almost 50 years of the program running; countless improvements made to the environment ,and many lives changed, the government decides to scrap the program mere months before my opportunity to participate.
This was a chance to gain experience in a field I may pursue in the future, and this chance has being stripped from me. Disgusted is probably the best way to explain my feeling. On a more positive note, I am encouraged that there are people out there willing to fight this injustice. I may not be able to experience the Ontario Ranger Program, but maybe my story can help efforts to revive the program for other teens in the future. 

Posted on April 15th, 2013

Retired Teacher - Brooklin, ON
Kettle Lakes Ontario Ranger, 1957
Fifty-six years ago, I was an Ontario Ranger near Timmins, in Northeastern Ontario. Back in the 50's, probably lacking a little direction as a 17 year old, my father was able to convince me I would be a good candidate for this program. I'm so glad he did.
I lived in Barrie at the time, so I was quite familiar with the outdoors, but did not realize the isolation that would happen that summer. We were the initial group to develop this park. From cutting trees for the parking posts, clearing the land for that parking area, digging and building stone drinking wells, preparing the sand beaches (there are 22 spring fed lakes in the park) and myriad other tasks, we made a major impact. A small forest fire started close by that summer, and we helped clear a fire break for a few days.

The visuals of that summer keep flooding back as if it were yesterday. The camaraderie was incredible, our "cookie" was the best (especially the pies) and the direction given to us by our foreman Roy Wildman was outstanding. Unfortunately Roy broke 4 fingers while on a portage we were doing and had to head to hospital during our final canoe trip.
My confidence and self-awareness increased substantially during this great opportunity. I became an educator and retired after 35 years, but continue to give back to youth.
For our work at Kettle Lakes, I believe we were paid $8 per day. It is not about the money. Can this government not see that, for a minimal cost, they have been able to accomplish so much with the youth of Ontario?  They should continue to do so!  I have spoken today with members of parliament, and only hope they will open their eyes to this travesty.
… and by the way for all those people availing themselves of trips to the Kettle Lakes Park … you're welcome!

Posted on April 15th, 2013

University Student, St. Francis Xavier (Development Studies & Gender Studies), Antigonish, NS
Cedarbough Ontario Ranger, 2007
 Although I anticipated that my summer as an Ontario Ranger would change my life, it did so in a way I never thought possible. It took a 27-hour train ride to get up to the camp, and the experiences I gained there still shape the way I learn and experience life.
I will always have memories of the work that we did, like spending a day trudging through the mud to corduroy a trail for the upcoming dog-sledding season, or preparing the salmon spawning beds (where you needed a team of at least seven to be working together, completely in unison, otherwise it just wouldn’t work). I recall spending entire days clearing and brushing trails, frustrated and tired, only to experience the utter satisfaction of seeing the change you had made on your walk back.

As a Ranger I gained skills in leadership, communication, teamwork and conflict resolution.  Most of all, I gained self-confidence.  Before that summer, if you asked me what I would be doing with my life, I would have told you I had no idea. The Ontario Ranger program made me into an activist, through an understanding of the importance of protecting the environment, of sharing other peoples’ cultures and through learning what it meant to truly practice respect. It was at Rangers that I first learned about First Nations issues, and residential schools; something that shocked me due to the fact that I had grown up not even five minutes from a reserve. 
My experience within the program also provided me a space to step back from my family life and organize my thoughts. Coming from a low-income family, with an abusive father, it is very rare that you get the chance to leave and reflect before going back. The positive space provided through the Ranger program allowed me to regain my self-confidence. Sometimes all you need is a home away from home in order to be given a final push to succeed and believe in yourself.

Youth programs like Rangers have been proven to effectively mitigate the effects of socioeconomic status, by creating a platform to diminish inequalities based on class and location.  For this reasons youth programs are seen in Canada as helping marginalized youth, such as Aboriginal peoples and youth from low-income families. However, the benefits of programs like Ontario Rangers extend far beyond these marginalized groups. For example, programs like Rangers have proven effective in bridging the gaps between regions, specifically the ever-present divide between rural and urban areas. This is why programs like Ontario Rangers are so important: They allow people from all different backgrounds to come together to share the same experiences. 

Posted on April 8th, 2013

Scientist Emeritus - Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Remi Lake Ontario Ranger, 1948
I was a Ranger in 1948, at Remi Lake, in the Kapuskasing District of northeastern Ontario.  Back then we were called 'Junior Rangers'.  It was a memorable summer that I never forgot.

Years later, as a forest scientist in ecology and genetics, working in many places from Mexico to the Arctic, I was attracted once again to Ontario's Ranger program. In 1996, I volunteered to work one week each with two different Ranger camps.  The work I did with the Rangers from McCreights Dam was at the Batchewana Picetum, a forest research plantation on the lower slopes of Mount Batchewana, Algoma (Ontario's highest locale).  With the Ranger crew from Moose Lake, Haliburton, we worked at the Swan Lake Picetum in Algonquin Park – on forest genetics for the science of the genus Picea.
I continued to work with the Rangers until I was medically incapacitated, commencing in 2009, and could not go out to the field. The Rangers from Moose Lake insisted on continuing with our work, and keeping in touch with me by a special phone that they acquired.  They initially spoke to me on the hour and later, every two hours.  They carried out the assignments wonderfully in the field (the deepest forest).
I am slowly recovering from my too long delayed spinal stenosis operation but am walking carefully now and may yet be allowed into the forest again.

I would like to continue to support the Ontario Rangers.  It is an incredible program. It costs the least and accomplishes the most of any activity the government supports.  I urge the Ontario government to continue this marvelous program.

Posted on April 8th, 2013

Master’s student (History and Philosophy of Science)- FSU, Tallahassee, FL
Esker Lakes Ontario Ranger, 2005
I come from a small town in Eastern Ontario. I was experienced in camping and canoeing and excited to get paid to work outside every day.  Coming from a small town or small community has its benefits, but throughout high school I felt continually weighed down by expectations.  Expected to win, to be the best, to perform; perhaps these weren’t laid upon me, but I felt that they were.  I was known for my athletic ability and swept the female athlete awards at my small high school.  I remember distinctly, as far back as grade 7, firmly making up my mind to walk the Terry Fox run, quietly rebelling against the people who expected me to run it and be the fastest in my grade.
I tell you this because being a Ranger gave me the freedom to be who I wanted to be.  Yes, I was good at sports, but I didn’t have to be known for it, and it didn’t have to define me.  At Rangers, nobody cared what you were like before, it only mattered what you did there.  Rangers was a fresh start, no baggage, no preconceived ideas.  Everyone had a clean slate and was equal.  In a time where I was search for my identity and figuring out what defines me, Rangers instilled confidence built on what was me, not on what other people thought of me.  I grew as a person, as an individual, and as a member of a team.  This growth could not have occurred in an environment where I went home every night, where I worked with people who already knew who I was, or maybe more importantly, what they thought I was.  The Ontario Ranger Program gave me the confidence of self-identification, and confidence to not be marginalized by labels and not to do it to other people.  I don’t know who I’d be today if I hadn’t experienced Rangers.

Posted on April 1st, 2013

e-Learning Developer -  Peterborough, ON
Fort La Cloche Ontario Ranger, 1979
It’s been 34 years since I spent the summer working as a Ranger, on the shores of Lake Huron, near Sagamok First Nation and Massey, Ontario.  It was this job that has had the greatest impact on my work and life decisions and it’s the reason why I still head out on backcountry canoe trips each year.

I’ve worked as an employment counsellor for much of my career.  Managers in the employment counselling field often struggle to find a way to measure the real value of their employment programs.  For example, how do you measure the success of the Ontario Ranger program?  

Diplomas, degrees and job titles are really only a small part of what is necessary for managing a successful career; it’s an individual’s transferable skills that really are the key to success.  The Ontario Ranger program benefits the Ontario workforce by providing young participants with the opportunity to develop transferable skills such as teamwork, negotiating, problem solving, time management, planning, delegating, and communicating.  Employers definitely know the value of these skills, even if they are difficult to measure.
In addition to developing transferable skills, this experience gave me the opportunity to leave the city for the summer and learn about a part of Ontario I had never visited.  I gained a sense of our history, learned about the environment and gained an awareness of regional issues. 

The Ontario Ranger program has always been accessible to everyone, which means youth from all parts of the province and all backgrounds have access to experiences they wouldn’t have otherwise.  It is my belief that this program helps to build a stronger province by fostering a greater understanding of the needs in different regions, while preparing participants with the skills they need for success in work, learning and life.

Posted on April 1st, 2013

University Student (Environmental Science and Geography) - North Bay, ON
Sleeping Giant Ontario Ranger, 2007
The Ontario Ranger program changed my life.  Not in a melodramatic sense, but in the fact that my summer as a Ranger changed the way I look at the world, and greatly influenced the paths I’ve taken and the choices I’ve made since.
At 17 years old, life is often contained in a tiny bubble – your friends, your family, your town. As a high school student I had no real thoughts about what I wanted to do or even how I wanted to live my life. I only applied to the Ontario Ranger program in the first place because my best friend had applied, and I didn't want to have to figure out my own summer plans without her!
Fast-forward six years, and I am about to graduate from a university program I never would have considered before Rangers (Environmental Science and Geography), while living in a semi-northern community (North Bay, ON) which I hadn’t know existed before my trip to Rangers. 
I remain in contact with a large group of my Ontario Ranger sisters today, and from what I can tell about the people I meet who have also gone through the program, the Ontario government is doing an injustice to the environment by cancelling it. Even just looking at the blogs already posted here, there are Environmental Technologists, Environmental Scientists, Geologists and Geographers being born from this program. One could argue that those entering the program were already environmentally minded, but from my own experience, this program raises awareness of our natural environment much more effectively than any advertisement.
The relocation that comes with the overnight component of the Ontario Ranger program is vital to its effectiveness. The home-based Stewardship Rangers do not take part in the eye-opening experience of moving far away from the comfort zones of home-life, to a completely different region with a group of strangers. It is an educational experience and opportunity for personal growth that I would encourage for any youth - be they friends, relatives or unknown to me.

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. 

Posted on March 25th, 2013

Commercial Helicopter Pilot - Ingersoll, ON
Sleeping Giant Ontario Ranger, 2002
Looking back, I can honestly say that the summer of 2002 at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park with the Ontario Ranger Program was one of the best experiences I have had.  It was truly life-changing, in the best of ways.

Before going to Rangers, I was lost when it came to deciding which direction to take my life after high school. I knew that I loved the outdoors, but had no idea what kinds of careers would suit my interests. While at Rangers, I was exposed to a number of outdoor jobs and activities. I learned the importance of teamwork and perseverance. I met friends that 11 years later, I still talk to on a regular basis. Most importantly, I found a rich source of confidence in myself that has helped me with nearly every aspect of my life since.
While on a canoe trip that summer, I watched a float plane fly over and then land on a lake nearby. I had seen planes before, but it was this particular experiences that helped me to realize that flying was my dream. It was like someone turned on the light bulb in my brain and I’m happy to say that it’s still burning bright. I became a commercial helicopter pilot at the age of 18 and have since flown thousands of hours in several provinces, and even continents. I still use the skills I learned at Rangers when I’m at work.

Learning of the Ranger Program’s closure is a huge disappointment. It means that teens will no longer get to experience the incredible benefits of this unique program, and that perhaps some of their future dreams will go unrealized.  I sincerely hope that the Ontario Ranger Program can be reinstated in the near future.

Posted on March 18th, 2013

Student (School of Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences) - Fleming College, Lindsay ON
Machesney Ontario Ranger, 2009
My summer in the Ranger program was only my second year back in Canada, after having spent most of my life in my mother's home country. For this reason, I knew very little about my birth country, Canada.  As a Ranger, I worked with people from all over Ontario - from Toronto to Thunder Bay - all with their own stories. This helped me to learn more about this province and country.  For example, before then, I hadn't known there were French-speaking communities in Ontario.  Until I heard fellow Rangers and staff speaking together in French, I thought only people from Quebec spoke French.  I also never knew much about the Aboriginal people and their history until that summer. 

My time as a Ranger included my first visits to provincial parks, and to the city of Ottawa. Coming from Richmond Hill, I had almost never been further north than Newmarket.  As a Ranger, I got to be in a northern, natural environment, where I learned how to fish, and how to canoe.  I also received two co-op credits for high school through the program. 
The Ontario Ranger Program helped me to love Canada and to call myself a Canadian. It also led me to my love of the environment. I am currently in my last year at Fleming College: School of Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences, in the Environmental Technology program.  At college, I sometimes get to see former co-workers and other Rangers from years before and after me.  This program shows you that you can make friends for life. I love the Ranger program and am sad to see it cancelled for future generations. 

Posted on March 18th, 2013

Staff Scientist, Science North - Thunder Bay, ON
McCreight's Dam Ontario Ranger, 1998
I was a Ranger in 1998 and returned to the program a few years later as a staff.  I worked at several camps, ending my tenure as a supervisor at the Sleeping Giant Ranger Camp in 2008.  This program prepared me for any eventuality that life could hand me, founded in me a strong work ethic, and ultimately gave me the leadership skills I have today to run a satellite operation for Science North in Thunder Bay.  What this program also did for me was give me a common experience that I can use to connect with other people.

This past Christmas I was traveling with my husband in Trinidad and Tobago.  While eating lunch one afternoon in the dining hall at the Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad, I struck up a conversation with the other people sitting at our table.  There were many people at that table, from a bawdy French man who had taken a ship across the Atlantic to a quiet woman from Germany; there was also a mother/daughter duo from Ottawa.  As we chatted about our lives back home in Canada, and who had more snow, I found out that the daughter had been a Ranger at Sleeping Giant.  What had been a very formal lunch with polite chit-chat turned into a pleasant afternoon with a feeling of familiarity.  We spoke about how the program had changed us, and led us to be the successful and adventurous people we are today.  We also shared stories about our mutual love for Sleeping Giant and northwestern Ontario.  Two people from very different parts of the province had something in common that bonded them. 
The Ontario government feels that the value of this program is not worth the money they will save by cutting it.  They are WRONG.  In the case of the Ontario Ranger Program, the evidence of its worth is staggering.  From the thousands of former Rangers who have shown their disapproval by writing posts on the Friends of the Ontario Ranger Program facebook page, to the hundreds of people who came to our rally at Queen’s Park, we have created a community of people who feel that the government’s position on this is untenable. This community will continue to stand up for what we believe in - and what we believe is that the youth of Ontario deserve a future that the Ontario Ranger Program is part of!

Posted on March 11th, 2013

High School Student - Toronto, ON
Sandbar Ontario Ranger, 2012
After living in Canada for just four years, I never thought that my life would have an amazing adventure experience like being a part of the Ontario Ranger Program. In 2012, I was fortunate enough to be selected as an Ontario Ranger near Ignace, in Northwestern Ontario. This experience has greatly changed my perspective.

Spending the summer in Sandbar with the other twenty-two rangers, five supervisors and two cooks, I slowly came out of my shell as a more independent and confident person, with many new skills. The summer has helped me to feel more ready to face the tougher obstacles life will throw at me. 
One of the most memorable experiences of my Ranger summer was a day where eight of us canoed 66 km in one day. We woke up around 6:00 am, and got on the water around 7:00. Fourteen hours later, we arrived at camp all dirty, sweaty, beaten by bugs, and super tired. I remember that when we were less than 5 km away from our camp, I was very angry and wanted to give up.  Our supervisor told us we had to take the small creek full of beavers dams, and tons of bugs to our camp - instead of portaging on a clean and nice trail that we had just brushed. However, when we got back, I realized I was glad he had made us take the creek route, because I was able to overcome my frustration in the last few hours, and found myself filled with excitement and happiness. I became a more determined person after that 66 km day.
Summer 2012 was a summer of my many firsts. It was my first time living away from my family, first train ride, first canoe trip, and first time seeing northern lights and starry nights. It was a summer of working hard… and most importantly, making friends with many awesome people.
I am very sad and feel sorry that the younger generations might not be able to know the benefits from this program, like I did. Hence, we shall never stop fighting to bring back the Ontario Ranger Program.

Posted on March 11th, 2013

Masters of Science Candidate - Guelph, ON
Moose Lake Ontario Ranger, 1999
I have a strong memory of sitting under pine trees on a summer evening as an Ontario Ranger, feeling deeply at home in the wilderness, and astonished at my new found strength to portage and clear brush.  

I spent the next few years working in provincial parks across Ontario as a natural heritage educator, and have pursued a career in the environmental sector over the last 13 years. I am currently an employee at Environment Canada, on leave to complete a Masters of Science in rural planning and development. I can trace the motivations for this career path directly to my summer as a ranger.
I want to express my sadness at the decision to cancel the Ontario Ranger Program. I urge the government to maintain funding for this unique program, as it provides invaluable support to young adults.
In my experience, it offered a much needed respite, and a supported place away from constant technology, to develop my own interests and broaden my understanding of what I could offer as a young Canadian.

Posted on March 3rd, 2013

University Teacher - Sudbury, ON
Wade Lade Ontario Ranger, 2002
As is the case with most alumni of the Ontario Ranger program, the list of benefits I gained through my Ranger experience seems almost endless. In the myriad of amazing moments from that summer, however, there is one experience that undoubtedly changed my life and the path it would take: My canoe trip. 

Being from Sudbury, I had already done my share of camping trips, but never on the scale that exposed me to such intense weather conditions, and which required such teamwork to achieve success. From that point on, my passion for team sports took a backseat to my newfound love for canoe tripping, and the exposure to nature that comes with it. Since then, I have personally led over 20 canoe trips and took part in an expedition that lasted over 2 weeks up in James Bay. This has allowed me to spark that new found passion for outdoor adventure among many other first time canoe trippers, which remains to this day one of my life’s greatest rewards. 

A thirst for adventure remains unquenched, however, if one does not have the self-confidence to overcome obstacles in order to truly benefit from those experiences. Without a doubt, my Ontario Ranger summer was the greatest turning point in my life in this regard. My experiences with my fellow Rangers gave me the means to stop doubting the worth of my character, and to become the effective leader that I always had the potential to be. It is a gift for which I am forever grateful to the Ontario Ranger Program, and something I strive not to take for granted. 
As a result of this new found confidence, I worked for 9 summers as an Ontario Ranger leader, became a teacher at Laurentian University, and run a program where I lead teams of students into developing countries to share their knowledge of health and improve the quality of life in less fortunate communities. The impact I now try to have on the people I meet around the world is traceable to the influence the Ontario Ranger Program had on me.  With 70 000 Ranger alumni having experienced a summer like mine, it would be a tragic loss to see the untapped potential of Ontario’s youth slip through the Ministry of Natural Resources’ hands now. Let’s fight to keep this program alive!   

Posted on March 3rd, 2013

High School Student - London, ON
Sleeping Giant Ontario Ranger, 2012
In 2012, I was an Ontario Ranger at a camp near Thunder Bay. This was an experience that helped me a lot with interpersonal skills, and teamwork. Since I started school, I was always considered a shy person. I have around five close friends, who know me inside and out, and I’m not all that shy around them. But meeting new people has always made me shy. I am naturally a quiet person and I focus a lot on my grades, and not building a social life. 
The Ontario Ranger Program made me come out of my quiet, shy shell because I was living with 20 other girls, and figured that I should show them my true self.  I am an independent person, and so building teamwork skills was a challenge for me.  But to be a successful team, you must gain your teammate’s trust and try to understand where they are coming from. 
These new skills have helped me since my summer as a Ranger. After the cancellation of the program back in September, I created a petition that has gotten some decent media attention. I completed a lot of telephone interviews with many reporters, something that terrified me before my experiences at Rangers. And at the January 4th rally at Queen's Park in support of the program, I made a speech to 200 people, something I couldn’t do before Rangers.  Being a Ranger taught me to stand up for what is right; I believe that this program should be preserved because it teaches young Ontarians who are shy to come out of their shells and get to know awesome co-workers and friends from all around the province. You just can’t do that with a home-based day program, where you aren't living with your team. This is just one of the reasons I believe the Ontario Ranger Program needs to be preserved. 

Posted on March 3rd, 2013

Student (Environmental Studies) - Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo ON
Sandbar Ontario Ranger, 2010
When I was 17, I was given the opportunity to be an Ontario Ranger in the Dryden District of Northwestern Ontario.  I was introduced to the forestry industry, to fire management, and to historical sites. I was taught low-impact camping and became a much more proficient canoeist. 

But the biggest way in which the program contributed to my personal development was through the relationships I made with fellow rangers and program staff. Living in the same building as twenty-one other guys my age was a transformative experience. There was no room for tension, living in such close quarters, so the bond that our whole group formed by the end of the summer was astounding. I still consider my fellow rangers to be brothers, and I know they share with me the sadness of the program’s closure.
Following my summer experience, I have gone on to study Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, have continued working for the Ministry of Natural Resources, and have developed a true passion for our province. The Ontario Ranger Program has done so much in terms of setting me up for success, and it has gotten me excited about giving back to our province in the same way I have benefited from it. I am absolutely devastated that future generations will no longer have this opportunity, and this cost-cutting measure seems to be stepping on the kind of program that distinguishes our province as being particularly remarkable.

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