For the 10th year in a row, Durham Regional Police officers recently teamed up with youth from across the region for a five-day canoe trip through Algonquin Provincial Park. The group, consisting of 10 youth aged 12-16 years-old and five members of DRPS, recently traveled to the park where they travelled about 50 kilometres by canoe and 5 kilometres by portage.
The team encountered challenging weather, strong winds and tough portages but successfully accomplished the excursion while fostering new friendships and building strong bonds between youth and officers. The program, called "The Durham Wilderness Adventure," has run every summer for the past 10 years. Youth are referred to the program by fellow officers, community groups, schools and social agencies with emphasis on building strong and diverse relationships with youth from all areas of Durham Region.
The youth receive instruction and certification from trained officers in canoe operation through the Ontario Recreational Canoe and Kayak Association, and also learn about back country survival, meal preparation, shelter building and team work.
"A lot of the youth who attend these trips have already had their minds made up about police through media and peer influences, but over the course of the trip these stereotypes are broken down, positive relationships are built and lifelong experiences are had," said DRPS Constable Stanway, one of the program co-ordinators. "Our officers are still in touch with participants from trips 10 years ago and these officers are now providing job references and school references to these young adults."
The programs give youth the opportunity to interact with each other and DRPS members in an environment free of electronics and negative influences. "Out in the wilderness all social barriers are broken down. We are one large team working together to achieve a common goal and everyone has to work together, sharing responsibility, sharing the work - a lesson that the youth are encouraged to take back with them to their respective communities," says DRPS Constable Ruttan.
The Durham Wilderness Adventure Program is funded by ProAction Cops & Kids and the Police Appreciation Dinner and Awards Night (PADAN). ProAction Cops & Kids believes that establishing a positive relationship between cops and kids at risk will strengthen our community today and for the future. By funding programs that bring cops and kids together, we help create an environment of mutual understanding and respect. Connections between police and kids are made with a view to increasing community safety while supporting young people to reach their full potential.
The Durham Wilderness Adventure program is part of three wilderness based adventure programs run annually by DRPS. Other trips include white water rafting on the Ottawa river and a sledding trip in Haliburton. Several hundred youth across the region have had the unique opportunity to take part in these programs over the years.
Out on the water (JPG file, 2,069.7K bytes)
Setting Up Camp (JPG file, 2,081.1K bytes)
Fun out on the water (JPG file, 2,305.7K bytes)
Heading over to the water (JPG file, 3,714.6K bytes)