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Safe adventuring

As the weather gets warmer, there is typically a spike in the number of calls reporting missing hikers, bikers and campers, says Cpl. Mark  Amatto, who estimates that the detachment typically gets around 20 to 30 calls from mid summer to mid autumn.

Amatto says missing individuals can be located quickly as long as concerned friends and relatives take immediate action.

“We have a very good track record of getting to the people that we need for a recovery,” he states.

For this reason, a call to report a missing person should be made sooner rather than later.

“There is no such thing as waiting 24 hours to call the police,” he says. “If you’ve got a bad feeling or if somebody’s supposed to have checked in and they’ve overshot the expected time frame, call.”

The caller should provide descriptive details about the missing person, he explains, including the clothing they were last wearing, the route they were taking, the vehicle they were driving along with the licence plate, and any medical conditions they have and medications they could be taking.

Hikers, bikers and campers should tell friends and relatives where they are going prior to the trip, he adds. That way, if something happens, a specific location can be narrowed down for a search party.

 

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Too many trekkers rely solely on their phone to get them out of a bad situation, says Amatto, which can be problematic, as many remote areas have no cell service.  

“There’s quite a few people who will count on Google Maps to help them out of backcountry, until they realize they have no map and don’t know where they’re going, and they’re not dressed appropriately or they don’t have the right footwear, and if they fall down and hurt themselves, we don’t know where to send crews to help them,” he explains.

All outdoors persons should carry a usable GPS unit with built-in search-and-rescue technology, he says, and have bear spray close at hand. When camping, all valuables should be locked up or hidden to make a tent less appealing to thieves.

In the event someone does become lost, they should activate the SOS feature on their GPS device and wait for a rescue team, says Amatto.

If they have a physical map and feel confident enough to self-rescue, they should do so, he adds, making sure to leave sticks or rocks in the shape of a big arrow to mark the direction they are heading and to follow a river or body of running water in order to locate the nearest community.

If they are completely lost and disorientated, they can start blowing an emergency whistle in groups of three bursts or make smoke signals with a controlled fire.

Following the proper protocol not only keeps outdoor explorers safe, Amatto says, but also removes a burden from police and rescue teams, making search operations less time-intensive and costly.

 

 

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Kayaker attempts to stay upright going over whitewater rapids

Summer paddling opportunities

Paddling enthusiasts will be pleased to know that Pinch-O-Crow Creekers have a fun lineup of paddling activities planned for the summer.

Founded in 1995, the club arranges kayak trips, summer camps, pool sessions and clinics in the region.

“We’ve got 18 different river runs ranging anywhere from a Grade 1 to a Grade 4, covering about 200 kilometres in the MD of Pincher Creek, so we’re really quite fortunate to have all of that here,” says Chuck Lee, manager and founder of Pinch-O-Crow Creekers.

The club kicked off the summer season back in May with its Three Rivers Rendezvous event at PEAKS Campus, near Coleman.

The annual May long weekend event saw paddlers from across the province gather for several days of camping and kayaking on some of the region’s lush rivers.

Money raised by the event supports the club’s youth programs and its youth instructors.

Throughout the remainder of the summer, Pinch-O-Crow Creekers have two main types of summer camps.

The first is the FUNdamentals Kayak Camps for ages seven to 10, where kids will head out to the lake for a three-day program that will focus on the joy and freedom of kayaking.

The second is the Developmentals Kayak Camp for ages 10 and up — a five-day program that enhances skills and emphasizes the importance of staying safe on the water.

“Kayaking has become super popular over the last couple of years,” Chuck says. “As a volatile sport, it’s very important that anyone looking to head out to the river gets some proper lessons and gets a better understanding of what the hazards are.”

In addition to its youth programs, the club has a number of options for adults looking to learn or build upon what they know.

“We have different clinics on the weekends for adults and for families. So we can either book you as a family for a clinic, or we’ll have some adult sessions that we’ll set up and run for a group of adults,” Chuck explains.

Outdoor sessions are available for club members exclusively. An annual membership costs $30 per person or $70 for a family of four. An additional $5 per person is required to cover insurance and other membership fees.

To learn more about the summer programs, clinics and camps offered by the club, or to register, visit the club website at pinchocrowcreekers.com.

Anyone interested in learning more or signing up can also reach out to Chuck Lee at pinchocrowcreekers93@ gmail.com or 403-628-2336.

Kids playing outside with colourful parachute game

Boredom busters back for boundless fun!

Boredom doesn’t stand a chance with Pincher Creek kids this summer as the town’s recreation department rolls out its annual Boredom Busters summer camps.

For children aged five to 12, the camps feature a wide variety of crafts, games, field trips and other activities.

Each week comes with a different theme to keep things fun and fresh. This summer’s featured themes include Canadian week, music week, circus week and more.

“We will be doing crafts that fit the weekly theme, swimming each day, local field trips to the fire station, vet clinic and bowling alley, walking to parks in the community, and playing other fun children’s games,” says Olivia Olivieri, the town’s summer programming co-ordinator.

“My hope is that the kids not only have fun, but also learn from the camps as well.”

Olivia also hopes that parents will feel comfortable sending their children, knowing they will be provided with a fun environment over the summer.

Registration for Boredom Busters closes on Thursday afternoons prior to each week of camps, so parents need to plan ahead.

To register, you can pick up a form at the recreation office, send an email or register online .

Each day costs $35 for one child. If you are registering additional children, the cost is $30 per extra child.

For more information, contact Olivia by email at summergames@pinchercreek.ca or by phone at 403-627-4322.

Take river safety seriously

As spring’s heat entices crowds to rivers for water activities, hidden dangers lurk beneath their tranquil surface.

The 2020 Alberta Drowning Report identified rivers as a leading location for drownings, and in 2017 there were 52 water-related fatalities reported across all water locations. With major rivers in southern Alberta and rising temperatures, river safety is paramount.

Before entering a river, consider risk factors like flow rate, currents, undertows, rapids, drop-offs, temperature and debris, just to name a few.

The “scout, assess and decide” strategy is a good one to remember and follow: Scout the river for conditions and hazards, assess the danger level, and decide if it’s safe. River conditions can change rapidly, so be aware.

Additional measures include:

Essential safety devices

Life-jackets and personal floatation devices are essential for water safety. While they serve similar purposes, there are key differences.

A life-jacket is designed to swiftly turn you onto your back if you are face down in the water. They are more buoyant, and available only in specific colours (red, orange and yellow).

PFDs come in various styles and colours, with a limited ability to turn you in the water.

Whichever you choose, know they are mandatory on waterways, so ensure proper wear and sizing for everyone.

 

 

Preparation

Prepare in advance and carry a mandatory water-safety kit on board any watercraft you use. Include water and snacks, sun protection, a cellphone in case of an emergency and, of course, your life-jacket or PFD.

Don’t forget to tell someone your trip route and when you plan to return.

Buddy system

Even if you think you are a strong swimmer, rivers contain hidden hazards that even the best swimmers can struggle with. Use the buddy system. Never swim alone, and always stick to designated safe places.

Active supervision

Children must be actively supervised at all times when in or around water. This means being within arm’s reach in addition to wearing a PFD or life-jacket.

The Alberta 2020 Drowning Report indicated that all drownings for children under the age of five occurred due to distraction or to supervision being absent.

 

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Get trained

Enhance your swimming abilities and consider taking a first-aid course. It is never too late to learn to swim or improve your technique. The Life Saving Society has various swimming programs available, from parent-and-tot to adult lessons, lifeguarding and first-aid courses.

Stay sober

Lastly, refrain from consuming alcohol or drugs while on the river. Stick to non-alcoholic beverages, stay hydrated and comply with legal and safety requirements.

For current river conditions in your community, visit rivers. alberta.ca on the web.

For more information on river safety, check out redcross. ca/training-and-certification/ swimming-and-water-safety-tips-and-resources.

 

 

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Community Foundation launches new summer contest

The Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta invites everyone to try its new summer contest called 23 in ’23.

The contest is intended as a fun way to highlight 23 projects that were recently supported through CFLSA’s various grants.

Among the local recipients are the Village of Cowley (Black Beauty Dinosaur), Pincher Creek’s Lebel Mansion and the Bellevue outdoor stage.

“We support some incredible projects, thanks to the generosity of our donors, and we want to showcase those projects for everyone to see, but also so that people have a better understanding of just what it is we do,” says Charleen Davidson, the foundation’s executive director.

“Our grants support everything from the arts to the social sector to the whimsical. Most importantly they support a healthy community.”

Throughout the summer, participants are tasked with visiting and taking selfies at as many of the 23 highlighted projects as possible. Photos are then to be posted on social media using the hashtag #CFLSA23in23.

Every tagged post will be counted as an entry into a grand-prize draw. Participants will have the chance to win one of three $500 gift cards for groceries and gasoline.

The contest began July 1 and runs until Sept. 4. Prize winners will be announced Sept. 5.

For contest details, including the 23, visit www. cflsa.ca.

Save this page and start checking off your stops today!

 

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Jay Reischman and the Jaybirds band

John Reischman’s roots music coming to Empress Theatre

Toes will tap in time April 19 when John Reischman and the Jaybirds take the stage at Fort Macleod’s Empress Theatre.

The group’s musicianship is tight with Reischman on mandolin, Trisha Gagnon on stand-up bass and vocals, Nick Hornbuckle on banjo and bass vocals, Greg Spatz on fiddle, and Patrick Sauber on lead guitar and vocals.

Lively instrumental solos pass from one musician’s nimble fingers to the next without dropping a beat, and no individual part outshines another.

Together since 1999, John Reischman and the Jaybirds have produced seven albums and earned national acclaim.

The group has two Juno nominations in the Roots and Traditional Album of the Year (Group) category, along with nominations for the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Concertgoers can look forward to an evening of finely balanced melodies and harmonies accented by a tone that can be found only when people truly enjoy playing together.

 

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Reischman started playing mandolin in the 1970s. Before joining the Tony Rice Unit, he was a standout soloist with the Good Ol’ Persons, a bluegrass band from the San Francisco Bay area.

True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe was named Bluegrass Album of the Year at the 1997 Grammys, with Reischman among the musicians playing on the tribute album.

His first solo album, North of the Border, was released in 1993 and his third, New Time and Old Acoustic, in 2021. A Juno nomination for Traditional Roots Album of the Year came with the latter.

The new album includes a refreshed version of “Salt Spring,” one of Reischman’s best-known compositions. Recorded with the Jaybirds in 2001, the song has become a jam-session staple for mandolinists worldwide. While you might not know it by name, there’s a good chance you will recognize the melodious picking at the Empress show.

Give the Empress Theatre box office a call at 403-553-4404 to reserve your seat, or purchase tickets at tickets.macleodempress.com.

 

 

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Man in turquoise shirt, grey pants and blue and red cap swings bat in a slo-pitch game

Slo-pitch league hits the diamonds and invites players

The first round of softball games lit up the diamonds last week at Juan Teran Regional Park in Pincher Creek. Every Tuesday and Thursday until the weekend of Sept. 10, teams will gather at the park for friendly games of softball.

Following weeks of casual play, the season will wrap up with a league-wide tournament to see who will claim bragging rights, while keeping things fun and loose.

Pincher Creek Slo-Pitch is a mixed recreational softball league with the goal of ensuring that all players, whether men or women, have a space to have fun, enjoy the outdoors and enjoy the game of softball.

“It’s a fun league for people to get out and enjoy themselves in the warm weather every year with as many teams and as many people as we can get,” says Cole Campbell, six-year veteran and head organizer for the league.

Individuals and teams can still register to join the league.

“There’s never a worry about the skill level, it’s mostly for fun,” Cole says. “We love seeing new faces out there. It gets us to play a little more and have a little more fun, but every year has always been fun.”

Typically, teams will field 10 people at a time, but given that this is a mixed league, teams are required to field a minimum of three men or women at a time.

In slo-pitch, the pitcher releases the ball slower and lobs it high into the air, providing batters more time to set up and react to the pitch.

The cost of registering a full team for the season is $450, with teams typically ranging from 15 to 20 players, while individuals can register for $20.

To register, potential teams are asked to contact the recreation office at 403-627-4322, while individuals looking to join a team can call Cole at 403-632-6059.

 

 

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Man in turquoise shirt, grey pants and blue and red cap swings bat in a slo-pitch game