Federal funds support Punky Lake Wilderness Camp

The Punky Lake Wilderness Camp will soon hold its first camp since receiving some new funding from the federal government late last year.

The Punky Lake Wilderness Camp will soon hold its first camp since receiving some new funding from the federal government late last year. The money will be used to run the wilderness facility that aims to prevent First Nations youth from falling into trouble with the law.Richard Roddy, a founder of the Recovery Foundation of the Northwest in Melville, Sask., has been in Williams Lake this week helping Punky Lake staff prepare to welcome the youth. “We need to start honouring people and help them to deal with the issues they are faced with in the world today,” Roddy says.“Our job as teachers, elders and leaders is to help them realize their true worth and their true potential.”  Ervin Charleyboy, founder of the Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society, says the camp is on track and has strong support from community organizations and First Nations elders. “Everybody is onside with it,” he says.  “The focus is on youth now. Not the ones who are in trouble with the law but doing preventative stuff with kids on reserve so they don’t get into trouble.” Charleyboy says the camp program will include trail riding, horsemanship, and cultural camps focussing on basic wilderness survival skills, hunting, fishing, as well as opportunities to learn environmental conservation. “They will learn how to live off the land and how to look after the wild animals,” he says.“This gives them (the youth) something to look forward to and help with their goals and what they want to do when they grow up.” Parents will also be welcome at the camp. Seven First Nations communities are involved in the camp including Alexandria, Toosey, Anaham, Stone, Alexis Creek, Nemiah Valley, and Nimpo Lake. Camps will run throughout the spring and summer.