Meet the MAST Program

Hi, my name Is Charlie Osborne. I am 21 and from Ottawa. Since I was young, I’ve had a keen passion for the outdoors and have been biking, skiing and canoeing for as long as I can remember. Like many young people these days, I had my fair share of difficulties during school. Classrooms and textbooks have never been a friend of mine, so I found respite in the many outdoor activities I love which have helped to shape me into who I am today.

My biggest dream growing up was always to move west and explore, play, and live in the mountains. With next to no experience in mountain adventures, discovering the MAST program was the perfect fit for me. I made the move to Fernie and was met by friendly faces with welcoming smiles. People here are friends with you before you even meet, it’s just the Fernie way. Needless to say, it is easy to feel right at home in Fernie.

On the first day of class, our assignment was to climb up to a viewpoint and look around. The goal was to orient and familiarise ourselves with the local terrain, and it worked! After just a short hike to the top of Castle Mountain, the views were amazing. No matter which direction you looked, there was another amazing sight. The following week, we went on our first hike as a class up the Spineback trail at Island Lake Lodge. We adventured off trail to explore and practice our map reading and compass skills, and did a lot of bushwhacking, eating the huckleberries as we went. Eventually, we found our way to the top and circled around behind the Three Bears’ peaks. Stopping to take it all in, it was breathtakingly picturesque. The sun was shining and the sky was so clear, you could see all the way down the entire valley. We could pick out the different peaks, and see the river winding its way along, and right in the middle of it all was the town of Fernie. At this moment I found a new sense of appreciation for this place, and am humbled to call it my classroom.

The MAST program surrounds you with like-minded people with a variety of skills and vastly different experiences. Everyone is unique, but we are all united by an intense, undeniable passion for the outdoors and a willingness to learn. For the most part, the experiences we have are easy-going and enjoyable, but at times, what we do is mentally and physically demanding. Pushing through hardships and difficulties, big or small, brings people closer together. A bit of teamwork and camaraderie go a long way. No matter how hard the climb or how high the peak, the people you are with and the memories you make along the way are key to the experience. At the end of the day, that is what really makes it count.