By Greg Price
Still in its relative infancy, the Taber Adventure Club offers plenty of fun opportunities for youth.
Boy Scout numbers continued to dwindle in the Taber area along with available volunteers, and so co-organizer/leader Darcy Firth thought this could be an option for youth, that still kept the ideals of the lay of the land with Mother Nature and Scouts, while also opening up other avenues for youth with various activities.
“The parents that were still around still wanted something, so I started talking with them and we thought about having our own community group,” said Firth. “We developed a whole new program, and we worked on it all over a summer and we set up a committee.”
The main goal of the club is to appreciate all the nature and world that is around you.
“We want to show to the kids that adventure is everywhere. Open your eyes, look around and you will find adventure. Our motto is adventure is what you make of it,” said Firth. “It is amazing to see what kids can do when you give them the tools. Community service is an adventure, trying new things is adventure.”
Taber Adventure Club tries to make themes for a month and then caters activities around those themes. October was Thanksgiving and Halloween, where the club did STEM projects.
“We did things like taking an egg and turning it into a turkey and then build something to protect the turkey and do a drop,” said Firth. “You can only do so many games and crafts, so you try and turn some things into a science project too to make it all in one and have kids learn things.”
For the outdoor adventure activities, themes explored are outdoor survival, starting camp fires, meal planning for camping, how to pick the best camp site, putting a tent up, etc.
“We do things like snow shoeing or going on a winter hike. An event we did last year was teaching them about safety in the mountains, we also took them out Christmas-tree hunting,” said Firth. “Seven families participated and we went out in the mountains, had a bon fire, enjoyed some hot dogs and we hiked around looking for family trees where we cut them down and brought them back. Out of the seven families, my family was the only one that had ever experienced that before, and they really enjoyed it. Everyone goes camping, what we want to do is take it one step further and find stuff kids and their parents have never experienced before.”
While the Adventure Club does its outdoor activities, Firth added kids are taught stewardship of the land and best environmental practices.
“Kids can only stay still for so long, but we try and have our discussion times on various topics. If you see litter on the ground, pick it up. Stay on pathways, pushing the emphasis that you’re only on this Earth for a short time, there’s people coming in behind us that have to live here, so we have to leave it in the same condition for them,” said Firth. “Lead by example in all the little things we can do. Turn lights off when you’re not using them, conserve water. But you have to do it (teaching) in a way to make it fun for the kids in the way you teach it. The challenge is to find ways to make it fun for different age groups. You can’t make it too tough for the young kids, but not too boring for the older kids, too.”
Saturday excursions can have the kids learning about wildlife, with activities like recognizing track patterns and habitat.
Firth also stressed the adventures the club goes on are not just outdoor pursuits, but indoors as well in various pursuits with sports, pottery, crafts etc.
“People think with Taber being such a small community, there’s nothing to do around here. But you got to go out there and find it,” said Firth, adding the club has talks with conservationists and military personnel in the community in the past. “Kids will soak in so much different stuff if you just let them if you give them good information and interesting activities. As we say, adventure is all around you.”
The age group for the Taber Adventure Club is quite wide ranging, from five to 18 years old. The older kids are encouraged to take on a mentorship/leadership role with the younger kids in the club.
“When we are doing things like crafts, or games or things like camping exercises, the older kids take on that role and help out the younger ones,” said Firth. “But we don’t have them just helping the younger ones, we want them to do the activities, too, with adventures just for them.”
After seeing a presentation for the Taber Adventure Club, Taber Kiwanis Club stepped up and offered to sponsor the club’s insurance for the year.
“Insurance can be very costly and we wanted to keep this club a very reasonable price so we don’t price it out to the point that families can’t afford it. Not having to pay for insurance is a big help, that helps all our funds go directly into our programming,” said Firth of the Adventure Club membership that is $200 per year, with a fraction of the funding going towards a shirt and hat for the kids for club membership.
Taber Adventure Club commences right after the school year starts in early September and goes until the end of school in June.
While the club does not have regular meetings in the summer, organizers still try to organize the odd excursion to keep interest peaked until the fall. Kids are encouraged to join the club at any time of the year, where fees will be pro-rated.
Taber Adventure Club meets every Wednesday in the Knox United Church basement (donated space) in Taber from 6 p.m-7:30 p.m. for skill development and activity planning.
“We do things like help them with their fall supper and do clean ups around the hall. Same things with the Kiwanis, we will help them out with their pancake breakfast and carol festival. We are very grateful for their donations and we want to give back to the people who have helped us out. Nothing comes free, you have to do your part to help out,” said Firth.
“It makes it that our two biggest expenses with the hall and insurance are covered by the community, so it helps us with our programming and lessens the fundraising we have to do.”
Taber Adventure Club is at four full-time leaders where eight kids are taken on by each leader, with two leaders present at all times for safety concerns. Always looking for new parent leaders, criminal record checks are made along with doing an interview to see if the person would be a good fit.
At the time of the interview, the club was at approximately 20 kids.
Although Taber based, if parents are willing to put the clicks on their car to join, Taber Adventure Club will intake from all over southern Alberta.
If you would like to learn more about the Taber Adventure Club, or would like to join, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call 403-634-4600.