REDA Co-operative Youth Program
The REDA Co-operative Youth Program is A Unique Alberta Youth Experience. The REDA Co-operative Youth Program is one of several programmes s offered by the Rural Education and Development Association (REDA). REDA is a private, non-profit continuing education organisation dedicated to providing human resource training and programme development.
The first Co-operative Youth Program was held at Elk Island National Park at Camp Agape in 1961, attracting 91 young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty from rural Alberta. It was intended to develop leadership skills and co-operative attitudes in youth, and to encourage their active involvement in the community. The first programme held at Goldeye Centre was in the summer of 1962. The programme covered topics such as Co-operative organizations, farm family business agreements, water safety and agriculture.
The REDA Co-operative Youth Program has seen several changes over the past few decades, including a move away from a rural youth focus, an increase in urban participants, and additional leadership curriculum content. Amidst all the changes, the principles the programme was founded on still remain. The REDA Co-operative Youth Program continues to create awareness and understanding in youth about co-operative ideals, leadership development, and the importance of community and the agriculture industry.
Some specific learning outcomes from the programme include:
- Working with people with different personalities
- Problem-solving techniques in groups
- Conflict management in groups
- Assertive communication skills
- Improved self confidence
This experiential seven day programme continues to take place at Goldeye Centre and runs over seven weeks of the summer, typically from late June to early August. There are three phases, and each caters to a different age group and offers a varied program.
Approximately 350 participants go through the programme each summer, with a maximum of fifty to fifty-five participants accommodated at one time.
The REDA Co-operative Youth Program exists to serve the belief held by REDA’s stakeholders that the future of their organisations and communities are the youth of today. Consequently, youth will need to develop the skills to be effective in their organisations and communities.
We are committed to providing an innovative learning environment that fosters the development of leadership skills and co-operative ideals in youth to benefit our communities.
The Co-operative Youth Program will be a dynamic leadership programme of choice, responsive to the needs of Alberta youth, member organizations and communities, and recognized for its contributions to society.
Values and Beliefs
The REDA Co-operative Youth Program has a statement of Values and Beliefs to guide the programmes operations. It represents the essence of the programme and, allows both staff and participants to gauge their actions and decisions.
The REDA Co-operative Youth Programs Values and Beliefs Statements are:
By pooling our resources we create results greater than the sum of the individual parts. Co-operation enables us to succeed through mutual self help and the strength of the co-operating members.
We not only accept differences amongst individuals and groups, but we celebrate the richness this diversity brings to our lives.
We are forthright in our motives. Through honest, open communications we build and maintain trust.
Our actions contribute to the individual’s development. By enhancing the individual’s abilities and confidence he or she is empowered to reach his or her potential.
Learning starts where the individual is at and should result in positive changes in her or his life and the lives of those around her or him. Challenging experiences combined with success stimulate learning.
Wherever we connect to others we have responsibilities to care for each other and give back to our communities without expectation of direct benefits.
The physical and emotional well-being of youth is placed in our hands. We diligently uphold that trust and responsibility.
We only undertake approved activities in which we are capable. We are ethical and reliable. The interests of youth come before our own.
History of the Youth Programme
“This is a pioneer camp, but it has been so successful that the campers hope the idea will spread to other districts in Alberta”, stated Donna Cropley, President of the Students Council at the Youth Camp sponsored by the Farmers Union of Alberta and Co-operative Development Association (FUA & CDA), June 30 - July 6, 1961. Held at Camp Agape in Elk Island National Park...the pilot project attracted 41 young people ages sixteen to twenty.
In 1958, Goldeye Lake had been chosen as the site of a training camp designed to develop qualities of leadership and citizenship in the young people of rural Alberta. The first annual Farmers Union of Alberta (F.U.A.) & C.D.A. Rural Young Peoples Camp was held at Goldeye Camp, July 29 - August 3, 1962. The programme covered such topics as: co-operative organisations, family farm business agreements, water safety, junior F.U.A. and agriculture in other lands. The fee, which covered room and board and transportation from central points, was $20 for the week.
By 1964, four one-week Teen Camps were being held at Goldeye and one Teen Camp at Fairview College. Total attendance was 291. Content covered co-operatives, farm organisations, leadership skills, citizenship and recreation. A one-week Grad Seminar was held for thirty-four participants and included more in-depth subject areas from teen Camps plus human relations, communications and business aspects of farming.
In 1967 three Youth Seminars replaced the five Teen Camps. Shortly afterwards, REDA was formed and it took on the responsibilities of the previous F.U. & C.D.A. Activities assumed by REDA included the Co-operative Youth Program.
By 1974, the REDA Co-operative Youth Program had taken the form of three levels. Two teen camps were offered for ages fourteen and fifteen. Teens enjoyed recreational and outdoor education. They learned to do things in co-operative styles and they learned about living together as a community. Two Youth Seminars for ages sixteen to eighteen allowed young people to explore co-operatives, rural change and development and decision making and personal goal setting. The Grad Seminar was directed toward young adults soon to be on their own. Participants learned about finding a place to live and adjusting to new surroundings. Environmental Concerns were also addressed. 293 participants paid or found sponsorship for the $45 cost of attending.
The past two decades has brought about some further changes. Content of the programme adjusts according to needs and the fee is now over $350. Yet, amidst all the changes in the numbers and programs, some basics still hold true. The Co-operative Youth Program still endeavours to create awareness and understanding in youth about co-operatives, leadership, citizenship and the importance of the farm organisation. Sponsors of the programme recognize the ever-continuing need to develop our future community leaders.
When asked what people remember most about their participation at the Co-operative Youth Program, the vast majority will reply friends. Since the very first years the most outstanding quality has been making new and very dear friends.
Allan Bartolcic is the Director of Youth & Community Development for the Rural Education and Development Association in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.