Soaring Spirits’ is the name of a new international youth camp now being developed along the Skeena River in northern British Columbia, Canada. The appearance of a Kermode bear, the white ‘spirit bear’ of native legend, and a profound set of circumstances resulted in Thom Henley being drawn to this land and purchasing it in 2004.
The fifty five acre property is set in a spectacular location with easy access from Highway 16 and views of wilderness in all directions. To the west the legendary ‘River of Mists’ winds its way through the Coast Mountains like a silver serpent. To the north Kitwanga Mountain looms up with green alpine meadows where mountain goats and marmots graze among the wildflowers. The Hazelton Mountains command the eastern horizon, but the real show stopper is to the south where the Seven Sisters Mountains raise their granite spires to nearly 3000-meters. Almost perpetually clad in snow, and with dramatic hanging glaciers, these are some of the most breath-taking peaks in North America.
The ‘Soaring Spirits’ property is a corridor for wildlife moving between the vast wilderness of Seven Sisters Provincial Park and Kitwanga Provincial Park. Kermode bears, grizzly bears, black bears, coyotes, wolves, wolverines, fox, deer, moose, mountain goats, marmots, hares, grouse, geese, bald eagles, falcons, hawks and a wealth of song birds are resident in the area. Every ecosystem and natural history feature common to the Pacific Northwest can be found here within a short distance from the land. Interior deciduous forest and coastal temperate rainforest, alpine meadows and bogs, tidal flats and rich marine ecosystems, massive glaciers and volcanic lava flows, wetlands, streams, river and lakes … make up a mosaic of landscapes perfect for natural history studies and world class wilderness adventures.
The ‘Soaring Spirits’ camp is located on the traditional territories of the Gitksan Frog Clan; it was dedicated in 2007 by Barb Clifton, the late Frog Clan matriarch and elder. The land has been willed by Thom Henley to the Rediscovery International Foundation to work together with the Gitksan Nation in ensuring that the camp will always be a place where youth from all over the world can come together with local youth to discovery their inner strengths, renew their relationships with nature and celebrate their cultural differences.
As the name implies, this is a place to let ones spirit soar. Everyone that visits the site comments on its positive and powerful energy. Elders and chiefs from all four tribes of the Skeena – the Neduten, Wet’suwet’en, Gitksan and Tsimshian - have come to the land to witness its purpose and give it their blessings. For this will become a place where ancient wisdoms passed down from generation to generation for more than 10,000 years will be shared with the youth of today. It will also be a place for young people to research and practice sustainable ways of living.
A large organic garden, orchard and berry patch will help feed the camp and offer valuable, hands-on lessons in self sufficiency. Youth will be able to pick their own berries to make jam, churn their own butter and grind flour to bake bread in a woodstove oven. They will be able to catch salmon, learn to clean it and prepare it in time-honored fashion for the smokehouse, jarring or for barbequing over an open fire. There will be lessons in medicinal and edible food plants gathered daily from the surrounding forest: wild mushrooms, Saskatoon berries, thimble berries, wild strawberries, soap berries, wild teas and much more.
The ‘Soaring Spirits’ camp will see many uses, from Rediscovery International training programs, youth camps and Elders gatherings to outdoor education programs for international schools. It will become a place for the rich sharing of traditions and knowledge. A Summer Salmon Institute is planned to bring together educators and conservation-minded people annually to focus on this vital resource. What better location to learn about salmon than in the watershed where the oldest fossil of the species earliest ancestor was found? The Skeena not only boasts the best sockeye and steelhead run in the world, it is British Columbia’s largest free-flowing river containing all five species of Pacific salmon.
Currently, a cookhouse/dining hall complex has been completed on the ‘Soaring Spirits’ site along with an excellent fresh water well, a large storage shed, a Council Fire and eight cedar tent platforms. Large canvas wall tents, with house frontal paintings depicting traditional Northwest Native crests, will grace the camp. A shower/toilet facility will be built for the camp before it officially opens in July 2009.
Three programs are now scheduled for ‘Soaring Spirits’ in 2009:
Rediscovery International’s Camp Skills & Natural History Interpretation Training (July 17-26)
Grizzlies & Glaciers’ - International Student Camp (August 1-14)
Soaring Spirit’s Summer Salmon Institute’ ( August 22-30)
To enroll, or learn more about these exciting programs contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.in-touch-with-nature-education.com
Rediscover International Training Program
To download Rediscover International's New Campl Skills, Culture and Natural History Training Program, at "Soaring Spirits" Rediscovery Camp, Kitwanga July 17-26, 2009, click here for further information [download]
Online Photo Gallery
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Soaring Spirits Photo Gallery