One of the hardest hikes Zachary Coey has ever done is also one of his proudest.
As part of Scouts Canada, Coey and 30 other people, hiked up Gambier Island off the Sunshine Coast in 2004.
It was a muddy, wet, forested island with an incredibly steep incline. Each step was almost the equivalent of climbing a metre in elevation, said Coey, a Reynolds secondary student.
After the five-hour-long hike, the group finally reached the top.
“It was raining pretty heavily. The rest of my group was told to make a shelter using a tarp,” Coey said. “I had packed a hammock and I slept in there instead.
“In the middle of the night, the group’s shelter filled with water because it wasn’t flat ground. When it’s raining and there’s no flat ground, it’s really nice to not be wet.”
The hike was one of the most difficult Coey had completed at the time.
It was also when he fell in love with Scouts.
“That was one of the moments when I thought ‘ya, this is pretty sweet,’” said the 16-year-old.
Over the past nine years, Coey has moved up through Scouts and is currently part of Venturer Scouts, a program for youth aged 14 to 17 years old.
He has clocked hundreds of volunteer hours being a teacher assistant and tutoring math and science at his high school, and organizing camps for younger Scouts.
This year, he expects to tally more than 400 volunteer hours.
“I think Scouts develops youth to be the best that they can be. It gives them leadership, mentoring and outdoor skills,” said Coey. “It tries to give you life skills and motivate you to be a leader in your community.”
It is Coey’s attitude and dedication that earned him the Queen’s Venturer Scout Award, one of Scout Canada’s highest awards that is given to youth who go above and beyond a set list of requirements.
Kate Adams, area youth commissioner with Scouts, said Coey’s outgoing nature helps people come out of their shell.
“He’s a great guy to have on your team. He’s a lot of fun, very confident, works well with other people and he’s not afraid to jump in to whatever you want him to do,” she said. “That kind of enthusiasm helps bring people out who are a little shy.”
“Youth that I know that do have the Queen’s Venturer Award go through an awful lot of work, they’re always looking for ways to contribute to the community” said Ron Planden, area commissioner for Greater Victoria for Scouts Canada.
Ross Sutherland and Jacob Palfrey also received a Queen’s Venturer Award this year.