Claire Verkuyl

Gold Participant

"I am eternally grateful for all of the amazing opportunities this Award has given me."

My journey with the Award began in the fall of Grade 9 after one very persistent teacher convinced me to join the program to further my involvement in my community. Now, looking back at my Grade 9 self at the end of my first year of University, I can say that I am eternally grateful for that teacher and all of the amazing opportunities this Award has given me.
I had always been a very shy kid and found it difficult to edge out of my comfort zone and try new things. When I began working towards my Bronze Award I was afraid of trying a new skill or sticking my hand up for new opportunities. The Duke of Ed community that I found in my high school and city helped to push me to try new things like canoe trips and motivated me to work hard towards my goals in skills that I already had.

I went on my first canoe trip that was organized through the Duke of Ed and Outward Bound in the Spring of my Grade 9 year. We portaged, paddled and I made 30 new friends along with countless memories I will never forget. I had grown up going to summer camp and going on short camping trips with my family, but I realized on this trip that there was so much more that I wanted to learn and see out in the Canadian wilderness. That very next summer I grew the courage to sign up for a Leadership program involving a 5 day canoe trip to Algonquin. I fell in love with tripping and the bond that I formed with the six other girls I spent that trip with.

Three years later and now I am a camp counsellor up in Muskoka for two months of the year. In the summer of 2016 I went on a 10 day canoe trip through Killarney National Park as a part of a Leaders in Training Program (also my Residential Project), which was definitely one of the most difficult and rewarding things I have ever done. As a camp counsellor, last summer I lead two amazing canoe trips through Algonquin Provincial Park where this time I held the map, packed the supplies and really got to put my leadership skills into action.
I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that this community and award have given me. I have become a confident leader and truly transformed with the help of everyone who helped to show me what I was capable of. I hope to continue to be an involved citizen and grow new skills in true Duke of Ed fashion. Give this program a try and who knows, maybe you will discover your secret passion as well!

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