October 22, 2017
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Inspiring Leaders of Tomorrow

Posted on June 5, 2017 by in Canada, Hometown, Hometown International, News, Ontario

Desiree Demers, a Grade 10 École secondaire catholique Thériault student, is seen in the foreground taking part in one of the “ice-breaker” activities held at the opening of the D.A.R.E. leadership camp at Camp Bickell on the weekend. About 80 high school students from Timmins attended the free camp.

Desiree Demers, a Grade 10 École secondaire catholique Thériault student, is seen in the foreground taking part in one of the “ice-breaker” activities held at the opening of the D.A.R.E. leadership camp at Camp Bickell on the weekend. About 80 high school students from Timmins attended the free camp.

TIMMINS – Desiree Demers admits she is, by nature, a shy person.

To overcome that, the Grade 10 École secondaire catholique Thériault student has attended a few leadership camps over the years, to challenge herself to break out of that shell.

Demers was among the 80 high school students from Timmins attending the inaugural D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) leadership camp held at Camp Bickell this weekend.

“When I went to my first leadership camp, I didn’t talk at all,” recalled Demers, speaking to The Daily Press a few hours after arriving at the camp on Friday. “But since I’ve been going, I can tell you I am way better than I was before. So it’s super good for me because I am able to talk to people now and make friends with people I didn’t know at first.”

Another camper, Nick Head, a Grade 10 student from Roland Michener Secondary School, said gaining leadership qualities and the ability to communicate with others will help him in life whether he’s a student or a post-graduate employee.

“If you get a job, at some point, you’re going to have to go in front of people,” he said. “You’re always going to have to answer questions. I feel like with anything, you have to be a leader. You can’t always be standing in the background.”

Asked what he hoped to gain from the camp, Head replied, “I came here to better my leadership skills … I want to be able to lead teams to solve problems and work together to accomplish goals.”

Timmins Police Const. Rick Lemieux, who is known to most students in Timmins through this involvement with the D.A.R.E. program, was a key co-ordinator for the free camp.

He said for some of the students, the leadership training didn’t begin the moment they arrived at the camp, but several months in advance.

“Part of this camp is to get high school students to run it,” said Lemieux. “They’re the leaders in this. We, myself and officer Bill Field (who also teaches the D.A.R.E. program), set up the funding and booked some guest speakers. But all the activities were planned by the team leaders that were appointed by each of the high schools … So those students are the ones who are actually taking care of all the activities throughout the weekend.”

Jaykob Walton, a Grade 11 student from Timmins High and Vocational School, was one of those team leaders.

He said they wanted to offer activities and team events that would be fun, tap into individual interests and encourage opportunities for the campers to make new friends.

“Some people like a minute-to-win-it kind of game, while others are more of a basketball kind of person, so we’ve got a bit for everyone to get everybody involved where they feel comfortable,” said Walton.

Walton said the leaders were conscious of ensuring the campers leave with a feeling that they have gained something from the experience.

“We started off by asking what people want out of the weekend, and so by the end of the weekend we’re going to see if we actually achieved that goal, to not only encourage them but to also build on for next year.”

Some of the guest speakers at the camp included Alexya Racicot, a Thériault student who is also the lone Canadian representative on the D.A.R.E. international youth advisory board, Paul Harrison, who is a former NHLer and retired OPP officer, Daphne Wallbridge, a published author and vice-principal at Thériault, Sensei Willy Lebrun of Timmins Wado Kai, who was going to put on a martial arts demonstration, and motivational speaker Jonathan Zinck.

This article by Ron Grech is from Timmins Press.