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Exchange program sees Orillia Scouts sharing and learning different ways of life

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The second part of an exchange program of young Scouts got underway Sunday as 15 young boys and girls from a remote Nunavut community arrived in Orillia.

Sunday's arrival comes after 13 Venturer Scouts and Scouts from the sunshine city spent time in Clyde River, a hamlet of approximately 1000 people. Now it's their turn to experience life in Central Ontario.

"I think these youth, in particular, have made a relationship that's going to last forever," says Rob Duncan, the group commissioner of 1st Orillia Scout Group. "They are on Instagram; they are chatting to each other on Snapchat. They are now bonded in a way that is really, really exciting to see."

Duncan says their experience up north was unlike anything they'd ever experienced. The group learned how to Inuit hunt seals and helped to build a wooden sled, which is used for transportation in that area.

"This is a remote location. This is about as culture shock difference as you can get, and I know our youth were up to the challenge," says Duncan. "Having the Clyde River students come down here, we'll see how they manage. But everybody is really excited to learn new things."

"It was a large change because the community is very small, maybe 1000 people and just the landscape," says James Kho, one of the Orillia Scouts who recently returned from up north. "There are no trees up there and lots of snow."

The idea for the exchange came from an Orillia-based teacher who went up to Clyde River to teach. He reached out to Duncan to recommend the experience.

"I honestly didn't know what to expect when we went up to Nunavut, but it was scary at first, but it was lots of fun once we got up there," says Alexis Harris, another young Scout taking part in the exchange.

Now that the Clyde River Scouts are in the sunshine city, they'll be exploring all that Central Ontario has to offer. From visiting the Wye Marsh and Algonquin Park to heading to Canada's Wonderland, the goal is to now provide an experience those youth have never had.

This is an opportunity for them to not only experience the different cultures and the societies and each other's environments but also to spend some social time and to recognize teenagers are teenagers and they share a lot of the same things no matter where you come from," says Duncan. "I think the core of this exchange is really to show how far about we may live but how close we are as people."

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