The love of the outdoors, a good sense of humour and a desire to make a difference resulted in some local teens having a really great summer doing what they love to do.
The teens’ adventure, which they may not have been financially able to embark upon without a little help from their friends, all began with an ugly hat, said Sandra VonHollen, owner of Game On, a Rimbey store that carries hunting and fishing supplies and equipment.
VonHollen went on to explain that the hat had the store’s logo on it, but it was a white hat, and, in her opinion, was simply not vibrant and colourful enough to show off the logo properly.
But, as it turned out, through an unexpected turn of events, the ugly hat has now turned into VonHollen’s favourite hat. In fact, the lowly little piece of headgear, will soon be framed and hanging in a place of honour in the store.
Justin Skjonsberg came up with the idea to auction the ugly hat off with the proceeds to go towards sending kids to a Cenalta Camp (youth conservation camp) in the area. These camps offer such courses as Hunter Education, the Canadian Firearms Safety course as well as boat safety courses. Activities also include canoeing, archery, rifle, pistol, shotgun and blackpowder shooting, wilderness overnight camping/practicing outdoor survival skills, swimming and fishing.
As soon as bidders realized that the profits from the ugly hat were to go to such a worthy cause, generosity, kindness and a desire to help out took over.
“Within 10 minutes, we had raised a hundred bucks from the hat,” said VonHollen.
The auction continued to snowball and others began to bring in more articles to be auctioned off.
The end result was that $5,000 was raised and three delighted youngsters, Kaleb Simpson, Isaiah Ukranichuk and Brad Zotich got a chance to attend the camp.
But the story doesn’t stop there.
One young man by the name of Kole MacAusland, who is an accomplished fisherman and hunter in his own right, was not allowed to attend the camp because he was basically overqualified, meaning he already had his Hunter Education training.
MacAusland is a familiar face at the Game On store, easily fitting in with like-minded people and surrounded by all the hunting and fishing toys.
VonHollen said the 13-year-old is a really good kid and one whom she wanted to do something special for.
And so by pulling a few strings and talking to a few people who were more than ready to help out, she did just that.
Last Wednesday, Jim Hoey, the originator and co-creator of The Dimestore Fishermen, and D’Arcy Vandergucht, host and cameraman of the show, came to Game On to film VonHollen and to participate in a fishing trip with the storeowner, a few other willing participants and Kole MacAusland.
While on the fishing expedition, Kole would be filmed and the segment would be used for one of The Dimestore Fishermen’s shows.
MacAusland, a boy of few words, waited patiently, fishing rod in hand, at the store for the filming crew to show up.
The teenager was quiet about the adventure he was about to embark on, but his barely concealed excitement was obvious.
“I think it is better to be on the show than getting to go to the camp,” he said.
The Dimestore Fishermen is a uniquely Canadian outdoor program that focuses on the cultural, historical and recreational aspects of communities and watersheds that the program visits.
The outdoor documentary has spawned 191 episodes all over Canada since its inception, taking viewers to some of the very best in lake, ocean, river and ice fishing locations in Canada.
The Dimestore Fishermen is one of the premiere television fishing shows in the world.
Last Thursday was cool with a chance of rain, but it seemed as the fishermen, including Rimbey Sgt. Mark Groves who brought his boat along for the filming crew to travel in, the sun was shining, regardless of the weather.
And for VonHollen the opportunity to have been instrumental in helping a special young man be part of a television documentary such as Dimestore Fishermen has been incredibly satisfying.
“When you find good kids, it’s your job to help them. We try to make a difference when we can,’ she said.
See more photos in this week’s paper.