Polar Bears International Teen Leadership Camp 2010
A Churchill Student shares his local knowledge and develops leadership skills as he joins the 2010 Polar bears International Teen Leadership Camp
Paul Preteau, a 16-year-old student from Churchill, Manitoba, is about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Teen Leadership Camp organized and operated by Polar Bears International (PBI). PBI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear and its habitat through research, stewardship, and education. Paul and 17 other students will travel on the tundra in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area, just west of Wapusk National Park, to take part in the week-long camp. Duke of Marlborough School, where Paul is a senior student, selected him for this unique learning experience based on his past accomplishments as a leader in the community. Parks Canada, which collaborates with PBI in education and arctic awareness, and Duke of Marlborough School are the proud supporters of Paul as he joins other top students from the United States, Canada, and Australia.
"The teens who take part in our Leadership Camp are extraordinary individuals," said Robert Buchanan, PBI president. "They spend a week on the tundra during the fall polar bear migration on the shores of Hudson Bay. They stay at the Tundra Buggy® Lodge* – with polar bears just outside – to learn about polar bears, climate change, and how each of us can help. From this remote location, they stay connected to the rest of the world through their blog at polarbearsinternational.org. Before returning home, each Ambassador creates an individual action plan to help reduce CO2 in their community."
These polar bears, part of the Western Hudson Bay population, draw visitors from around the world to Churchill. For the Leadership Camp students, the chance to see polar bears in their natural habitat and learn first-hand about the impacts of arctic climate-warming is a transformative experience. The goal of the camp, now in its seventh year, is to inspire, inform, and empower young leaders to advocate for environmental stewardship in their home communities.
Paul Preteau, excited by the opportunity, says "I believe that it takes a group to make a big change – but only one person to get that change started."
Parks Canada was invited to send a representative to the camp because of the park’s role in protecting one of the world’s largest polar bear maternity denning areas in Wapusk National Park. Since 2005 Parks Canada has been part of the camp’s facilitator team.
"Awareness-raising through institutions such as Parks Canada can make an enormous difference in motivating the public," Buchanan said. "If we are serious about conserving polar bears and their ecosystem we need to act quickly—and our partner organizations and Teen Leadership Camps play an important role in inspiring change."
The Parks Canada team in Churchill is proud to be part of this initiative!
To find out more, visit the students' blogs.
* Tundra Buggy® Lodge is owned and operated by Frontiers North Adventures, the leading sponsor for PBI’s Teen Leadership Camp.