Exchange students embrace Kootenay

They were welcomed by a very smelly baited bear trap when they arrived in the group campsite at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, but initial anxiety wore off and 19 Rotary youth exchange students quickly started to enjoy their first overnight tent camping experience.

The Rotary exchange students take in the tubs at Ainsworth.

The Rotary exchange students take in the tubs at Ainsworth.

They were welcomed by a very smelly baited bear trap when they arrived in the group campsite at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, but initial anxiety wore off and 19 Rotary youth exchange students quickly started to enjoy their first overnight tent camping experience.

The 17 to 19-year-old students came from Indonesia, Taiwan, France, Italy, Brazil, Norway, Ecuador, Bolivia, Germany, Japan, Thailand, France and Mexico. Several had never camped before and were enchanted by this wonderful      local park.

The fire pit became the gathering place for meals, but a warm fire made it the gathering site for the students when they returned from a soak at Ainsworth Hot Springs and were welcomed to a raucous sing-along by a small group of musicians and singers of The Second Winds.

Although sleep under the brilliant array of stars was short for some students, they headed off for a Baker Street stroll, before riding the historic Nelson tramway with special narration by Rotarian Walter Laurie.

After a visit and lunch at Lakeside Rotary Park, the group continued its onward journey. During the course of this district tour, the students will visit Bonners Ferry, Invermere, Cranbrook, Creston, Nelson, Castlegar, Coeur d’Alene and Spokane where they will participate in the Rotary District Conference. Soon after, their year in North America will become a dream and several thousand photos.

Rotary Youth Exchange has existed for over 76 years in more than 80 countries and over 8,000 students worldwide participate in the program which is administered by Rotary districts.

Over 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide create the extensive network that provides support for youth exchange.   Local Rotarians thank families that have hosted our two exchange students, Luca Sattler from Germany and Leonard Batubara from Indonesia; families include Al and Noreen Lynas, Tom and Shelley Purdey, Leo Degroot and Sandra Irvine, Scott Spencer and Tatiana Petrov and Al and Kelli May.

During the next school year, the two Rotary clubs in Nelson will not host any long term exchange students. However, if local students are interested in participating in the short term summer exchange program, which involves a six week direct family-to-family exchange, they may make their interest known by September 30 to the New Generations director/youth Services director in either the Rotary Club of Nelson Daybreak or the Rotary Club of Nelson.

An opportunity of a lifetime awaits!