By Second Lieutenant Natasha Tersigni, 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group Public Affairs
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia — Thirty-three of the best and brightest senior Junior Canadian Rangers (JCRs) from across Canada gathered in British Columbia for the JCR National Leaders Enhanced Training Session 2019 (NLETS 19) to learn skills that will last a lifetime.
This annual national-level training event, hosted this year by the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4 CRPG) from August 7 to 20, 2019, was an opportunity for senior JCRs aged 16 to 18 years old to enhance their knowledge and Ranger, traditional and life skills.
Upon completion of NLETS 19, the JCRs returned to their home patrols with a better understanding of the JCR program, and with the skills and knowledge needed to continue to be leaders at their home JCR patrol and in their communities.
The majority of the NLETS 19 training took place on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, The island is the largest of the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island.
On this 185 square kilometre island, the JCRs took part in a variety of activities including a three-day sea kayaking expedition as well as hiking, rock climbing, intertidal studies, organic farming and Indigenous studies. Along with the activities, all the JCRs had the opportunity to lead their section for a day and take on other leadership roles as assigned.
“Through these adventure training activities, we are putting the JCRs in the position to overcome their fears; whether it be mental, physical or emotional. Maybe its fear of the ocean, or climbing up a rock face, by putting the JCRs in these challenging, uncomfortable conditions, they are learning to overcome obstacles and learning ways to cope,” explained Major Scott Macdonald, who is the Officer Commanding, Junior Canadian Ranger Company of 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.
“One of the biggest benefits of NLETS 19 is the confidence that the JCRs gain in the role of being leaders. At the end of the enhanced training session, they return to their home patrols and communities with the confidence, skills and abilities to be leaders. It is these skills and abilities that we hope they continue to grow and build on as they become young adults.”
For JCR Robert Gienger of Grande Cache, Alberta, participating in the NLETS 19 was an opportunity to challenge himself. In July 2019, JCR Gienger was employed as a JCR mentor for the 4 CRPG Basic Enhanced Training Session 2019 (BETS 2019) that was hosted on Vancouver Island.
During BETS 2019, JCR Gienger was responsible for leading a section of younger JCRs, aged 12 to 14 years old, in outdoor activities such as canoeing, camping, hiking, and a high ropes course.
“I have learned so many skills through the JCR program and continue to do so. The biggest lesson for me is learning how to deal with the diversity of everyday modern challenges that come into my life. You must learn how to assess what happens, whose problems you can solve,” he said.
“When something unexpected happens, you need to quickly stop, think, and find a way to handle it. Since sometimes you could be wrong and there could be a backlash, you need to figure out all these facets and put them together to solve the puzzle,” said JCR Gienger, who added that NLETS 19 was another way the JCR program helped him to develop important life skills.
“NLETS 19 was an amazing opportunity. I made so many great friends and got to experience some great outdoor activities and travel to a place where I have never been to before. I found the whole experience challenging, but rewarding.”
The Junior Canadian Rangers are community-led and Army-supported youth development program. Many JCRs come from Indigenous communities and are mentored by members of the Canadian Rangers, who are part-time Army Reserve members. The Rangers provide patrols and detachments for national security and public safety missions in sparsely settled northern, coastal and isolated areas of Canada that cannot conveniently or economically be covered by other parts of the Canadian Armed Forces.