The ACCA Co-operative Youth Program
The ACCA Co-operative Youth Program is a unique Alberta youth experience. ACCA's Co-operative Youth Program is one of several programs offered by Alberta Community and Co-operative Association (ACCA). ACCA is a private, non-profit continuing education organization dedicated to providing human resource training and program development.
The ACCA Co-operative Youth Program, formerly REDA Co-operative Youth Program, has seen several changes over the past few decades including a move away from a rural youth focus, increase in urban participants, and additional leadership curriculum content. Amidst all the changes, the principles the program was founded on still remain. The ACCA Co-operative Youth Program continues to create awareness and understanding in youth about co-operative ideals, leadership development and the importance of community and the agriculture industry.
The first Co-operative Youth Program was held at Elk Island National Park at Camp Agape in 1961 and attracted 91 young people between the ages of 16 - 20 from rural Alberta. It was intended to develop leadership skills and co-operative attitudes in youth and to encourage their active involvement in the community. The first program held at Goldeye Centre was in the summer of 1962. The program covered topics such as co-operative organizations, farm family business agreements, water safety and agriculture.
Some specific learning outcomes from the program include:
- working with people with different personalities
- problem-solving techniques in groups
- conflict management in groups
- assertive communication skills
- improved self confidence
This experiential seven day program continues to take place at Goldeye Centre and runs over six weeks of the summer, typically from late June to early August. There are four phases to the program and each caters to a different age group, ranging between 11 to 18 years of age and offers a varied program.
Approximately 250 participants go through the program each summer with a maximum of 50 to 55 participants accommodated at one time.
The ACCA Co-operative Youth Program exists to serve the belief held by ACCA's stakeholders that the future of their organizations and communities are the youth of today. Consequently, youth will need to develop the skills to be effective in their organizations and communities.
Values and Beliefs
The ACCA Co-operative Youth Program has a statement of Values and Beliefs to guide the programs operations. It represents the essence of the program and allows both staff and participants to gauge their actions and decisions.
The Values and Beliefs Statements of the ACCA Co-operative Youth Program are:
- Co-operation - By pooling our resources we create results greater than the sum of the individual parts. Co-operation enables us to succeed through mutual self help and the strength of the co-operating members.
- Respect - We not only accept differences amongst individuals and groups but we celebrate the richness this diversity brings to our lives.
- Integrity - We are forthright in our motives. Through honest, open communications we build and maintain trust.
- Personal Growth - Our actions contribute to the individual's development. By enhancing the individual's abilities and confidence he or she is empowered to reach his or her potential.
- Learning - Learning starts where the individual is at and should result in positive changes in her or his life and the lives of those around her or him. Challenging experiences combined with success stimulate learning.
- Community - Wherever we connect to others we have responsibilities to care for each other and give back to our communities without expectation of direct benefits.
- Safety - The physical and emotional well-being of youth is placed in our hands. We diligently uphold that trust and responsibility.
- Professionalism - We only undertake approved activities in which we are capable. We are ethical and reliable. The interests of youth come before our own.
History of the Youth Program
"This is a pioneer camp but it has been so successful that the campers hope the idea will spread to other districts in Alberta," stated Donna Cropley, President of the Students Council at the Youth Camp sponsored by the Farmers Union and Co-operative Development Association, June 30 - July 6, 1961. Held at Camp Agape in Elk Island National Park, the pilot project attracted 41 youth ages sixteen to twenty.
In 1958, Goldeye Lake had been chosen as the site of a training camp designed to develop qualities of leadership and citizenship in the young people of rural Alberta. The first annual Farmers Union of Alberta (F.U.A.) & C.D.A. Rural Young Peoples Camp was held at Goldeye Lake, July 29 - August 3, 1962. The program covered such topics as co-operative organizations, farm family business agreements, water safety, junior F.U.A. and agriculture in other lands. The fee, which covered room and board and transportation from central points, was $20 for the week.
By 1964, four one week Teen camps were held at Goldeye and one Teen camp at Fairview College. Total attendance was 291 participants. Content covered co-operatives, farm organizations, leadership skills, citizenship and recreation. A one week Grad Seminar was held for 34 participants and included more in-depth subject areas from teen camps plus human relations, communications and business aspects of farming.
In 1967, three Youth camps replaced the five Teen camps. The changes that brought the end and the beginning of Unifarm brought changes to the educational arm. Rural Education and Development Association (REDA) was also formed. REDA took on the responsibilities of the previous F.U. & C.D.A. Activities assumed by REDA included the Co-operative Youth Program.
By 1974, the REDA Co-operative Youth Program had taken the form of three levels. Two teen camps were offered for ages 14 & 15. Teens enjoyed recreational and outdoor education. They learned to do things in co-operative styles and they learned about living together as a community. Two Youth camps for ages 16 to 18 allowed young people to explore co-operatives, rural change and development and decision making and personal goal setting. The Grad seminar was directed toward young adults soon to be on their own. Participants learned about finding a place to live and adjusting to new surroundings. Environmental Concerns were also addressed. In 1974, 293 participants paid or found sponsorship for the $45 cost of attending.
The past two decades has brought about other changes. On April 27, 2005, Rural Education and Development Associated merged with the Alberta Co-op Council forming the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association. Content of the program adjusts according to needs and the fee is now over $500. Amidst all the changes in the numbers and programs, the basics still hold true. The ACCA Co-operative Youth Program still endeavours to create awareness and understanding in youth about co-operatives, leadership, citizenship and the importance of the farm organization. Sponsors of the program recognize the ever continuing need to develop our future community leaders.
When asked what participants remember most, the vast majority will reply that it's the people they meet. Since the very first years, the most outstanding quality of the ACCA Co-operative Youth Program has been helping young co-operators make new lifelong friends.