PORT HAWKESBURY: While the future of the Nova Scotia – Campeche International Leadership Camp (NSCILC) may be uncertain, three Grade 11 students from different parts of the Strait regional school board (SRSB) catchment area are likely to remember their recent experiences in the Mexico-based program for years to come.

SAERC student Logan Fox, Dalbrae Academy student Monica van den Hoogen, and Inverness Education Centre/Academy student Emily Walker recalled their two weeks in Campeche, a six-hour drive from the Mexican resort area of Cancun, during a presentation to the SRSB’s latest regular monthly meeting on June 7 at the SAERC Auditorium.

With each student participating in the March trip tasked to raise a minimum of $1,000 to put towards underserved youth and seniors in their host community’s general vicinity, Fox, Walker and van den Hoogen all surpassed their goals this past winter, contributing to a memorable visit to Mexico.

“We were welcomed with open arms at the airport by our host families,” recalled van den Hoogen.

“I think our most important experience was realizing how free we are in Nova Scotia, and being able to help the people down there.”

During their time in Mexico, the NSCILC participants were paired up with 21 Spanish-speaking students at a local university, taking daily language classes but also participating in volunteer service activities at such locations as a cancer care centre, a home for at-risk youth, and a home for the elderly.

“It helped me explore opportunities in the world, and it gave me a lot more confidence,” Walker declared.

Staff advisor and Tamarac Education Centre (TEC) principal Chuck Boudreau told the SRSB meeting that this year’s NSCILC participants showed great maturity in embracing new experiences.

“They stepped out of their comfort zone,” Boudreau reported, noting “most of us had no choice but to step out of our comfort zone.”

However, Boudreau noted that the 2017 edition of NSCILC might be the initiative’s swan song, as the Mexico-based program organizer is no longer involved and a follow-up edition may only occur if a temporary replacement can be found in the near future. Should any continuation occur, the program will likely continue to receive SRSB support, according to the board’s superintendent of schools, Ford Rice.

“We still want to participate in the Campeche Leadership Camp because it’s been very beneficial to the students,” Rice told last week’s SRSB meeting.

In the meantime, NSCLIC officials are currently meeting to see if a small percentage of the funds raised by program participants can be directed to a bursary for the participating students, and the memories of their Mexico journey are likely to linger for an extended period with the Strait area students that visited Campeche this past March.

“Our last day at Campeche is one that I’ll always remember,” van den Hoogen reflected.

“It’s a day that inspired me to encourage others to apply for this amazing experience and spread the word.”