The culture of the great outdoors

Learning outdoors culture and traditions from those who have walked the walk

Former Banff Park Warden Doug Martin talks to Selkirk Outdoor Education students about his years in the Park.

Former Banff Park Warden Doug Martin talks to Selkirk Outdoor Education students about his years in the Park.


In a world in which we are tied to computers and are indoors for the majority of our time, reminding young people that there is a vast history in the great outdoors is valuable.

Recently, a partnership between Summit Community Services Society and the Selkirk High School Outdoor Education class facilitated a  “Mentoring Youth in the Outdoors” program, which allowed students to spend some time outdoors sharing stories with people who have lived their life in the mountains and valleys of the East Kootenay.

“The goal of this Intergenerational mentoring program was to promote the transmission of  “outdoor” cultural traditions and values from older to younger generations,” said Lori Joe of Summit Community Services Society. “And what better way to learn traditions than from those folks with the lifelong experiences?”

The traditions and history Joe speaks of come from the trappers, hunters, fishermen, guides, farmers and Park Wardens of the East Kootenay, who over the years have played a significant role in conservation and the shaping of this area.

The mentoring program allowed youth to spend time with some of these people, to learn firsthand from them.

“We are very fortunate to have students interested in building a personal sense of the outdoors and local historians with rich history and values to share,” Joe said. “This was really an awe inspiring day. I couldn’t have asked for a more knowledgeable and experienced group to take us on a journey into the many careers and adventures of true local outdoorsmen/women.”

The students heard from Doug Martin who was born and raised in Kimberley and is now retired from his career as a Park Warden in Banff National Park. He spoke about the many different facets of his job, from search and rescue, enforcing parks laws and regulations, monitoring and managing resources to public relations.

George Myers, a retired teacher who has trapped in this area for over 30 years, shared stories of trapping in the East Kootenay, and explained the role of trapping and animal conservation. Joe says he also helped students set their own squirrel snares, which many enjoyed.

The students were also mentored by outdoor enthusiasts Bob and Margi Jamieson.