Fernie's Active Youth

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Generally on the snowiest days of the year, I ride the single line. With powder awaiting the quickest way to get back up to the top is the best. On one such occasion I mounted the chair lift with a middle aged British couple. After acquaintances were made, they posed a question that provoked much thought. “What is there for youth to do in Fernie?” I’m sure that it’s a question many people pose, hoping for a straight answer.

At first, Fernie may seem like a small quiet town, with little or no attractive qualities regarding youth. No mall or large indoor recreation facility becomes the object of many young people's cringes. Boredom seems to be the generalization most commonly made about small town life. Many small towns may be this way, but Fernie defiantly is not. Amenity migrants move to Fernie for the sole reason of how much there is to do!

So what is there to do? What fills the local kid’s time? I began a list to inspire this article and ended up filling the front of the first page as well as a portion of the back!

During the winter a number of sports lie just outside our back doors. The ski hill turns into a thriving social atmosphere, active and ideal for many youth from town or abroad. As well as free skiing and riding, Fernie Alpine Ski Team (FAST) was voted the “Best Ski Club in Canada” in 2007. Fernie Minor Hockey Association and the Fernie Skating Club are also active organizations in our community.

Besides outdoor sports, indoor activities also keep youth active in the short days of winter. Evolution Health and Fitness is a common hub for many, and can get quite crowded after three o’clock. Dance, swim club, martial arts and yoga are gaining in popularity as well.

During the summer, many escape the heat in the cool river that conveniently runs within a few kilometers of most people’s houses. The green water seems to splash colour as people float down on its surface on a hot day. The river also becomes ideal for canoeing, kayaking, fishing or walking the abundant trails lining its edges.

Though sports occupy a large portion of afternoons, weekends and breaks from school, some young people are also active members of the community. They volunteer at communal centers and special events. They single handedly put on events for the whole community including the annual “Trash Bash” and the “Healing for Haiti” fundraiser.

There is however a portion of youth that live with a consumer mind set, I believe originating from screen entertainment. If something isn’t easy and stimulating it isn’t worth doing. When people try to replace genuine human interaction with screens they lack the motivation to find genuine fun. And when they don’t try to find it, it obviously doesn’t present itself to them and they assume that the place that they live is a ‘boring hole’ and that there is ‘nothing to do’.

True there is an awkward gap for youth from fourteen to eighteen in terms of nightlife. We aren’t allowed into the Central or the Brickhouse. We can’t drive, so visiting friends at night becomes a problem for our parents. If I could fix one part of this town it would be the evenings. Perhaps this hole could be filled with a chic late night cafe, a common meeting place for youth.

Part of some young people’s vernacular is the popular, ‘I’m bored!’ A friend of my mother’s once told me, “Honey, if you live where you live and you’re bored, y’all are not bored, y’all are just stupid!”

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