Go West, young wo/men!

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AMHERST – One group is coming east. Another is going west.

Thirteen local kids will be headed to Alberta in August in a national YMCA-sponsored exchange with a group of junior rangers from that province.

“This is the first time I’ve ever dealt (with the rangers),” said Mac Hawco, administrative and development manager for the Cumberland YMCA.

The rangers and the YMCA Youth Exchange Group were paired by the national YMCA based on demographics – age, gender, group size. Hawco is one of two adults – the other is Tanya Dwyer – who will be going on the trip.

‘Exchange’ implies a visit to here, too.  The Cumberland kids will be in Alberta Aug. 10 to 16, but the junior rangers will be in the Maritimes July 28 to Aug. 3.

Hawco said the national YMCA pays airfare, while the local contingents pay for activities on the ground (accommodations are free – kids billet each other). The manager wants the visitors to have a full tour of the county, including the Springhill mine, Joggins Fossil Centre and the Fundy Geological Museum. They’ll be spending a full day in Amherst, seeing the skate park and the county museum, the bird sanctuary and going on a walking tour. And a day at Northport beach is definitely on the itinerary for the land-bound westerners.

“Probably the (West Edmonton) Mall or going to Jasper,” said Connor Samson, when the 18-year old was asked what he’s looking forward to.

The kids embarking on the trip are members of the Y’s junior achievers, the kids of staff or others. The ages range from 12 to 17. Samson squeaked in with a birthday this spring.

The teen is excited about the trip but concerned about the flight. An ear condition has been a reason not to fly in the past.

Hawco said the trip west will be the first time flying for about half the kids. He said the youngsters wouldn’t get an opportunity like this were it not for the exchange. The exchange group has been fundraising to pay for their hosting duties. A barbecue and bake sale were held Thursday outside the YMCA.

“We’re hoping to raise around $4,000 (in total),” said the manager.

They’re at about $2,500 now, having received donations from the Bell Aliant Pioneers and the Y Service Club, as well as completing sales of two Oxford frozen food orders. A dance-a-thon is upcoming.

A day of service is planned in Amherst, with the combined groups painting a fence on the edge of the Cumberland YMCA parking lot.



Organizations: YMCA, Fundy Geological Museum, Bell Aliant Pioneers

Geographic location: AMHERST, Alberta, Northport Jasper Oxford

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