Moncton – Last Friday, the Blair Doucet Youth Summer Camp, organized by the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, ended on a high note, making camp counsellors proud. Like in past years, the camp ended with a mock contract negotiation where the youth negotiated with their counsellors the terms and conditions for the following year’s camp; conditions such as bed time, wakeup call and safety considerations. This year, campers voted to strike to obtain better conditions for next year’s campers.
On Tuesday, August 2nd, campers elected officers from amongst themselves to represent them during negotiations with their camp counsellors. Throughout the week, as they learned about their rights as workers, the history of the labour movement and the role that the labour movement plays in the broader society, camp participants also planned their negotiating strategy.
“We saw camp participants learn, grow and bond throughout the week,” says Paula Doucet-Jones, Second Vice-President of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour (NBFL) as she handed out certificates to each participant. “It is incredible to see these youth so eloquently defend their arguments and show their solidarity with each other. They have the makings of future leaders within the labour movement.”
The Blair Doucet Youth Summer Camp ran from Monday, August 1st to Friday, August 5th, 2011. This year saw 24 campers come together from across the province, 8 returning and 16 new campers. For the past eleven years, New Brunswick youth in high school, from grades 9 to 12, have been coming together to learn, have fun and make friends. To be eligible, at least one the youth’s parent must be a member of a labour union affiliated with the NBFL.
“This camp is made possible through the generous financial contributions of our affiliated members and the volunteers who give their time to educate our youth about our values of solidarity and social justice. They are the ones who make this camp a success and I thank them,” says Michel Boudreau, President of the NBFL.
The camp is free of charge to participants and each participant will receive a of $250 scholarship for their participation when they graduate from high school.
“Part of my father’s vision for the camp was also to promote post-secondary education, in addition to offering a summer camp experience,” adds Doucet-Jones who’s father, Blair Doucet, founded the youth camp. Blair Doucet was the NBFL President from 1999 to 2005. He believed that the union movement should be brought to the youth of the province. Doucet passed away in February 2009. The summer camp is named in his memory.
At the end of the camp, once all of the youth had received their certificate of participation, Caroline Savoie, a returning camper, thanked all of the parents whose participation in their labour union made this camp experience possible for her and her fellow campers.