Capturing the Moments, Gabe’s Award Story

 Getting Started with the Award 

“Hey, I’m Gabe, a grade 11 student from Ontario. I learned about the Award in April 2021 and thought it would be an excellent way to experiment with new skills and passions, volunteer, and keep my fitness in check. I am working towards my Award through school, and my Award Leader is my teacher Mrs. Blue.   


Developing a Passion for Photography  

In December 2021, my dad let me borrow his old cannon digital camera to start developing an expressive section of my portfolio to submit to universities for the Architecture program. Right away, I developed a love for the art and started regularly taking trips to downtown Toronto, Hamilton, and Oakville to shoot all sorts of things.  


I chose photography as my skill and major section, and I started learning Photoshop and Lightroom to play around with altering different aspects of photos. The Award allowed me to see many beautiful places such as Toronto, Kingston, Cobourg and Perry Sound. I started to gain a strong interest in the art and regularly educated myself on how to develop an individual style. If it were not for the Award, I don’t think I would have committed to photography and would not have learned this many new things. I am excited for the future of my interest in photography and hope it continues to teach me new things about design and Architecture.  

SMART Goals 

The Award utilizes the SMART Goals framework to encourage young people to set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals. This type of goal setting helps participants achieve their goals by thinking long term and working backwards and setting small achievable milestones. 



I wanted to become skilled at editing photographs in 3 months. Every weekend, when I would take pictures, I aimed to edit at least 5 of those photos to add to my portfolio. I used Adobe Lightroom to colour grade, adjust exposure, and light settings and composition. This helps me build my portfolio, which I hope to submit to universities when I apply for architecture school. Adding five photos per week means I would have 120 in 6 months. 



I wanted to play a game of tennis (first to 6 games/ best of 5 sets) with my dad or friend at least two times per week. I played at two different family courts. A game of best of 5 tennis lasts around 160 minutes, and with two of these games per week, I will satisfy the recommended amount of weekly exercise two times over. By playing these two games per week, I wanted to develop my serving and rallying in preparation for the yearly tournaments I have with a large group of friends in the summer. 


Award Mentors 

Throughout my Award journey I’ve had the opportunity to meet several mentors who helped guide me and encourage me. Two specifically have stood out that went the extra mile to support me, Julie from my Adventurous Journey, and Forrest with my photography.  


Adventurous Journey  

For Adventurous Journey, my group and I were guided through the depths of Algonquin park by park guide Julie. She taught my group everything we needed to know to thrive in the outdoors and have a good time. She taught my group how to cook, set up tents, paddle a canoe as well as how to portage. Julie was very helpful in completing my Adventurous Journey and the reflection report that goes along with it. 



For photography, I took inspiration from many people on Instagram. Forrest Mankins has specifically taught me how to use lightroom and photoshop to improve my photos through his many courses. 


Bronze Adventurous Journey  

I’ve recently been camping in Killbear and Restoule Provincial Parks, with plans to go to Bon-echo and Killarney provincial parks shortly so I have a fair amount of experience camping… 

My Adventurous Journey allowed me to experience a whole other level of camping, while our group portaged and canoed for 2 days in the depths of Algonquin Provincial Park. I learned many new things such as how to tie a bowline knot, how to portage and the C, and J canoe strokes. I have also developed an even stronger love for nature and a new interest in portaging. I met many amazing people, some of which, I still keep in contact with.  


Why You Should Join the Award  

Anyone who has an interest that they want to develop, a drive to help out your community or a love for nature would be a perfect fit for the Award. The Award has truly steered me on the right path and has given me many new interests such as photography and portaging.” 

  • Gabe, Bronze Award Participant  


We are so proud of Gabe and excited to see him achieve more goals and make an impact in his community.  


We hope Gabe has inspires you to Join The Award, Volunteer with The Award, or Become an Award Centre.      

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