What caught my eye today was a flotilla of colourful kayaks on Kenogamisis Lake.
I pulled into the Geraldton waterfront to investigate. The paddlers were too far out on Barton Bay for me to contact, but I spoke to one of the supervising adults from the Thunderbird Friendship Centre (TFC). This was the second day of the Geraldton Multi-Sport Camp for Aboriginal youth, ages 12 to 16.
Later in the afternoon, I caught up with Ron Miron, instructor, as he was loading the now-empty kayaks on a boat trailer. He was assisted by Walter Davies, also of Longlac, and by Pete Hohmann of Virginia. How did the kids respond? I asked Ron. “They loved it,” he said.
Cheryl Checkley is the Aboriginal Health Outreach Worker for TFC. She was also out on the lake, so I had to phone her later to get more facts.
Cheryl said this was the first time the three-day event has been staged here. The sponsor is a provincial body named Aboriginal Sport & Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO), and their representive, Heather Collins, was also participating as a facilitator. ASWCO covered all costs for the 13 young participants.
On the morning of the first day, Tuesday, July 5, the youngsters played golf at the local course, and in the afternoon, soccer and basketball. Different staff members at TFC were taking turns acting as chaperones.
On Wednesday morning, there was basketball, ultimate frisbee, and dodge ball. After I saw the kayak lessons in the afternoon, the group retired to the Centre for some darts and karaoke.
On Thursday, the agenda called for lacrosse in the morning, and in the afternoon, double ball, and capture the flag, acted out with toy guns which shoot foam bullets.
Participants travelled to the golf and kayak outings in a chartered bus. The board of education allowed the gymnasium venue for other games, free of charge.
“I think they’re having fun,” said Cheryl. “I’ve been playing every sport that they’ve been playing.” How does she feel physically? “I actually feel good!” According to the ASWCO website, the organization’s mission is to promote all-round well-being through physical activity, recreation, and sports activities.
Ron Miron, kayaking instructor, met visitor Pete Hohmann of Virginia on one of the many pilgrimages Ron makes to kayaking venues. Pete said he really liked Greenstone, and wanted to learn more of its history.
Ron said he intended to donate the kayak rental revenue to the volunteer-driven, non-profit group in Longlac, Want-A-Pet.
On Friday, Ron is staging what is becoming a popular three-day event in Greenstone, the annual Kayak Camp, this year on Margo Lake. He is expecting 40 participants from all over.