Fourteen lucky young Yukoners will get the opportunity to take part in an outdoor education camp this July for free.

The Yukon Fish and Game Association’s 25th annual Outdoor Education Camp takes place July 2-9 and it should provide an amazing experience for the group of youth between 13 and 16 years old who get to take part.

“The camp is eight days for the young people, but it’s nine days for their parents,” jokes camp director Clayton White.

“The participants all end up sleeping away their first day back home, because they’ve been doing so much in their time away.”

It’s easy to believe White’s assertion when you look over the list of activities the camp features. A small sampling of the full list includes canoeing, wilderness survival, fly fishing, backpacking, trapping, swimming, bull riding, rock climbing and target shooting.

At 96 years of age, Alex van Bibber still acts as the camp’s chief instructor—a role he has taken on for 23 of the camp’s 25 years.

Past participants have commented that the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations elder’s stories are priceless and that his immense repertoire of wilderness knowledge and experiences make him an amazing instructor.

The Outdoor Education Camp gives young Yukoners an opportunity to test their limits 

Campers make the five-and-a-half-hour trek into van Bibber’s trap line and camp during their time in the program.

The first morning they wake up bright and early to climb the mountain next to camp (a nine-hour round trip journey). When they reach the summit, campers get the opportunity to make one satellite phone call.

White remembers a very excited German exchange student getting to call his parents when he reached the top.

“He was so thrilled, and his parents were very proud and excited for him.”

For most participants, the camp helps them to push their limits and allows them to challenge themselves. White provides the example of a young man with an extreme fear of heights.

“The walk down the ridge into Alex’s camp was terrifying for him. I was sure that he would opt out of climbing the mountain the next morning, but he didn’t. He got up and went for it and was standing happily on the summit with his fellow campers later that day.”

The students selected for the camp tend to come from a diverse set of backgrounds and often don’t know each other before camp begins.

“It’s exciting to watch them coming together as a group and really start to work together,” says White.

“You really see a change in the young people over the course of the camp. It really feels like when we say goodbye to them at the end of the eight days that we’ve had a positive impact.”

The camp and associated transportation are completely free for the participants. The Yukon Fish and Game Association provides all tents and sleeping pads, a camp cook and sous chef, backpacks and daypacks for campers.

To apply for one of the coveted 14 spots, young people need to fill out an application form available from the Yukon Fish and Game Association (667-4263) and write a two-page essay. This year’s essay choices feature woodland caribou or all-terrain vehicle use.

They also need to submit a letter of reference from a teacher or community leader. Applications are due June 11.