Vice president Tom Bowen and president Mike Keenan wave the BC Games flag at the closing ceremonies of the 2020 BC Winter Games in Fort St. John. (Contributed)

Fort St. John games provide lessons for Maple Ridge

Many volunteers still needed for Summer Games in July

With the memories of an inspiring BC Winter Games fresh in their heads, the organizers of Maple Ridge 2020 BC Summer Games know they have a lot of work ahead of them.

Summer Games directors were in Fort St. John last week (Feb. 20-23) to observe their counterparts in action and find out what it takes to run a successful event.

“It was tremendous,” said Summer Games president Mike Keenan.

“Our group learned a lot, we observed a lot, and the host community was fantastic, so it was a very worthwhile venture for us.”

READ MORE: ‘Everyone wins’ volunteering for Games – chair

Of note to Keenan was the spirit of the host city.

“Something that really struck us was the pride that the citizens of Fort St. John had in their community and putting their best foot forward for the rest of the province.”

Stepping off of the plane in Fort St. John, Keenan could tell the volunteers were eager to impress.

“As soon as we walked down the ramp and into the terminal, there was [someone in a] winter games jacket and they had a sign welcoming our board members to their community.

“The first impression was very, very positive and from that point on they just built on that.

“Everyone was so personal and positive in the community and it was a huge reflection on Fort St. John which is something Maple Ridge needs to keep in mind while we’re hosting.”

While the the spirit was high and Fort St. John ended up having enough volunteers, Keenan said the host city ran into an issue with the timing of helper sign-up.

“They had a bit of a challenge in that a lot of the volunteers procrastinated and they were waiting until just before the games – literally two to three weeks before – until that they started singing up and that’s a bit worrisome.

“We would like to have our volunteers in place as soon as possible and so we would encourage local citizens of the community to step forward now.

“Our event won’t run if we don’t have upwards of 3,000 people step up to volunteer… so people need to get on that as soon as they can.”

READ MORE: Hunt for Games helpers underway

Summer Games Marketing Director, Lisa Craik, said it does not matter what a volunteers skill set is, the organizers can find a place that suits them.

“We need such a variety of positions to be covered, so what we don’t want is people to get concerned that their skill can not be used,” she said.

“There is a job for everybody.”

Craik pointed out the volunteering system is geared towards ensuring best fit. The team makes contact with everybody personally, talks to them about what they are interested in, finds out where they’d like to volunteer, and does their best to take advantage of their abilities, while making sure they are comfortable and satisfied with their role.

The time commitment can be as long or as short as the volunteer is able to accommodate too.

“You can volunteer the least amount, which is one four hour shift, or you can be there all four days,” Craik said.

Her experience at the games was an eye opening one.

“I really saw the inspiring side of being involved in the games as a volunteer,” she said.

“When you volunteer, you think that you’re doing it for the kids – and you are – but what you don’t realize is at the end of it, what you’re going to walk away with.

“The games are an incredibly inspiring event.

“You’re watching our youth compete at their best; and even if you don’t know anybody competing at the event – just watching it, you become a part of something bigger than yourself.

“You’re going to walk away with more than you could imagine; it’s something you’re going to remember forever.”

Volunteers can sign up at bcsummergames.ca



ronan.p.odoherty@blackpress.ca

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