Not many young people are as lucky as 21-year-old Marie Pudlas.
The Burnaby resident spent her last month of summer vacation travelling south down the Fraser River, exploring the various ecosystems and communities along the way.
When the Burnaby NOW last spoke with Pudlas, she was anxiously awaiting to embark on Rivershed Society of B.C.’s Sustainable Living Leadership Program. Two months had gone by quickly since she was accepted into the program, and the young woman was feverishly trying to pack enough stuff to survive the 25-day trek down the Fraser River.
Now, almost three weeks since she’s been back, Pudlas is still adjusting to life in the city.
“When I got home I didn’t want to sleep inside, it was weird. I had my window all the way open and I had my curtains open so I could see outside,” she said. “One of the big things to take from it (the program), though, I thought, was just a greater sense of how connected we are to, not just each other culturally, but just to our environment.”
The annual program takes eight youth up north to Mount Robson and from there the group travels down the Fraser River. The trip takes 25 days and covers 1,400 kilometres, which the group travels by canoe, raft and van. The program aims to teach young people about sustainable living and the different ecosystems that can be found in the province.
Prior to leaving, Pudlas said she was most looking forward to seeing the plant life that grows outside the Lower Mainland, but upon her return, she had trouble trying to pinpoint what her favourite thing really was.
“The whole experience, everything, the canoeing, the rafting, camping outside. It was a lot of fun,” she told the NOWin a phone interview.
In the beginning, the group meets at Mount Robson, where they spend a few days preparing for the trip. They participate in activities to help build a cooperative team and learn to paddle and steer their canoe.
“It really sort of built up the anticipation of actually getting out on the canoe,” she said.
By the time they embarked on the adventure, Pudlas said the group really started to bond.
“It ended up being more than I expected. The group dynamic worked really well, and once we got going it was really cool,” she said.
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