Expanding Our Roots
BC Government Supports Renewal of Junior Forest Wardens
Submitted by Elizabeth Brown- Provincial Coordinator, BC Junior Forest Wardens
The Junior Forest Wardens have built their programs foundation using the four components of:
Forestry – Ecology – Outdoor Skills – Leadership
Junior Forest Wardens works to ensure sustainability of our forests for future generations. Born in the 1930’s, Junior Forest Wardens is considered to be the first environmental youth movement in BC. Now, along with the assistance and backing from our provincial government we can look forward to providing a stronger knowledge and appreciation for our environment.
Junior Forest Wardens- who can join and what does the program offer?
Learn wilderness survival techniques, enjoy canoeing, hiking, kayaking, go camping.
Learn to climb a rock bluff, shoot a bow, rappel on a rope, plant a tree!
The Junior Forest Wardens program is a rewarding non-profit, outdoor-oriented experience designed to develop an awareness, appreciation and respect for our natural environment. It is an exciting and educational opportunity for young people and their families to have fun, develop skills, and get educated in the many and diverse aspects of forests.
To prepare for the adventures of Junior Forest Wardens, education is provided. Such as: wilderness skills development, first aid, trip planning and survival. To give a greater appreciation of the natural resources while outdoors, Wardens are also taught about tree, plant and animal identification, soil types, weather and water, resource management, threats to the environment and much more.
Young people between the ages of 6 – 18 can join a local club, and enjoy age specific programming in one of the four appropriate age classes. Parents are encouraged to participate with their children, in any aspect of the club program; from providing their expertise in a leadership or resource role, parent supervision, to learning right along side of their kids.
During the 1920's, "Forest and Outdoors" magazines, an official publication of the Canadian Forestry Association, included a regular section called "Young Canadians", devoted entirely to the activities, interests, and education of boys and girls. The magazine was widely read and very popular, especially among the young people of British Columbia.
In 1929, a story was published in this section that was to have an effect upon its readers - and upon history - far beyond anything its author could have expected. The story was set at Smug Cove on Bowen Island, and concerned a group of boys, friends of the local ranger, who got together to form a club. It tells how they discovered a fire in the bush, reported it to the ranger, and helped him put out the fire.
The response to this story was incredible. Boys from all parts of the province wrote into the author inquiring about joining the club or forming one like it. Somewhat overwhelmed by this reaction, the local manager of the CFA office, Charles Wilkinson, and his associates, looked at each other and said "Why not?"
So the Warden Movement was born. Initially however, the boys were called the Junior Fire Rangers. For each 100 students in a given community, one boy was selected to be a ranger, a representative of the CF, in consultation with the school principal. The boy selected was to act as a fire prevention officer, whose special duty was to inform other students concerning fire laws in particular, and forest conservation in general.
In 1930, 300 boys were appointed. As the boys were concerned mainly with the forests, and to avoid confusion with municipal fire departments, it was decided in 1931 to change the name from Junior Fire Rangers to Junior Forest Wardens. In 1935, the "red shirt" uniform was chosen.
For many years, the movement stayed primarily on an individual basis. There were no clubs (or if you like, just one big club). It wasn't until 1936, or thereabouts,, that actual clubs were formed. Here again, the step was initiated by the young people themselves. This was no planned organization, the groups like "Topsy", just grew - spontaneously and eagerly. The first such clubs were in the Vancouver Region because that was where the Wardens were the most concentrated. There being no established training program, the clubs defined their own areas of study. They even invented their own names. The "Conservation Corps" - which specialized in forestry, was one such early club. The "League of Conservationists" was another - specializing in wildlife study.
With the formation of clubs came a demand for more training. Again, the impetus came from the young people, and not their supervisors. They wanted a deeper knowledge of our forest and environment. The memo packages sent from Headquarters began to include progressively more and more resource material on forests and forest lands, and eventually - in accordance with specific suggestions from South Burnaby's Conservation Corps - gave way to a graded training manual with examination and badges for tests successfully passed.The war effected the Warden movement greatly, of course. Many older boys left to serve overseas. The younger ones helped the war effort by selling bonds and stamps and conducting scrap metal drives. In 1944, girls also started becoming involved in the program, and were then known as Girl Forest Guards. It wasn’t until 1974 when the clubs became co-ed that all were known as the Junior Forest Wardens.
Get Outdoors – Get Involved- Volunteer!!
Providing these awesome activities to our youth requires volunteers - being a JFW volunteer has tremendous rewards. You get to see young people develop skills and gain confidence in front of your eyes. From sleeping under a lean- to for the first time, to rappelling down a rock bluff; it is you that could make this happen. At JFW, we make use of the great facilities we have out our backdoors and throughout our country.
Volunteers are people from every walk of life, all ages and stages. What they have in common is the desire to make a difference in the youth of their community as well as in their own life. This vital role presents the opportunity for JFW to be an activity for the whole family and has the secondary benefit of YOU becoming more involved and knowledgeable about our environment.
Whatever your background, Junior Forest Wardens wants to hear from you. You can contribute as much or as little time as you wish. Wardens do a huge range of work; the help offered is always greatly valued!
Provincial Coordinator, BC Junior Forest Wardens
TELEPHONE: (604) 329-5800
EMAIL: [email protected]
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