Wildlings last year, playing in the clay hills at Fish Creek, searching for ‘diamonds’ – pieces of mica or gypsum rock embedded in the soil.Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 04, 2022 at 13:51

By Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A busy summer of special guests, events, and activities are in the works for youth nature campers in Fort St. John, despite recent vandalism to their bug houses earlier this week. 

The Camp Wildlings houses were torched at their CM Finch Elementary location, in addition to plants being dug up. They were used to attract pollinators to the local Food Secure Kids program garden.   

Susan McGarvey, education co-ordinator for the Northern Environmental Action Team, which runs the nature camp and food program, says while losing the houses is a disappointment, she’s thankful the fire didn’t spread to hay used in their garden.  

“It’s a little bit scary, our gardens are covered in hay – so, if it had gone up, it would have probably taken the school yard with it,” said McGarvey. “Which is why we’re making the biggest deal about it because this could be really dangerous.”  

It’s not the first vandalism suffered by CM Finch this year, a water tank was stolen months earlier and it was swiftly replaced by caring citizens. It’s suspected the vandals used the water on tap to put the fire out.  

“We’ve had a bad run, somebody stole our water tank at the beginning of the Food Kids Secure program and now someone’s lit our bug houses on fire,” McGarvey said.  

Despite the loss, the Wildlings have a great summer planned, with guests returning to their program for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

A large roster has been invited, including outgoing mayor Lori Ackerman, biologists, local conservation officers, smokejumpers, city bylaw, and more. 

“Finally, we’re out of our COVID protocols, we’re sending out invitations for special guests to come out throughout the summer, and we’re hoping that we can get some yeses from some of old friends that used to come before COVID,” said McGarvey.  

It’s expected the Wildlings will be out in the community forest next week, jumping right back into fort building and other activities.  

“We’ve got amazing staff going out, our wild leaders are always pretty amazing. But there’s another really good group going out and we’re going to be doing all of the things we typically do – learning how to whittle, going down to the creek and building forts,” said McGarvey

This item reprinted with permission from Alaska High News, Fort St. John, British Columbia