THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - A young man says a mountain bike camp aimed at helping those affected by substance abuse came at just the right time to save him from himself.
“The past two years have been really hard for me, I got suicidal…. I was on lots of pills,” Cameron Model, 25, says. “This camp is what saved me…. The camp came at just the right time.”
The young man says his birth mother did drugs while she was pregnant with him, which has left him with a disability that makes it hard to learn. He has lacked confidence because of his disability and after his adopted mom got sick a couple of years ago things have gone downhill for him emotionally.
Biking has been his saviour and while it is something he has done for most of his life the Ashes to Dust Mountain Bike Camp allowed him to rediscover his passion for it while helping to build up the confidence he needed to break out of his rut.
“I was sitting in the house playing games all day. A couple friends helped me get into the camp,” he says. “Now I have a full time job and I’m saving up to take courses to be a heavy machine operator.”
Model says he would recommend the camp to anyone affected by drugs, whether they have their own addictions or a family member does.
“It’s a great experience. It gets you out there doing something, not partying or something like that,” he says. “It’s exercise too and it’s fun to have a bunch of buddies to ride with. It’s social.”
The camp, which runs Sept. 10-11 at Juniper Bike Ranch in Kamloops and features five professional riders and instructors, also provides mountain bikes for the participants. Last year 18 young males, aged 18-25, took part and this year the Phoenix Centre hopes to get enough funding to host 25 youths. They also plan to open it up to past participants who already have their own bike.
“I hope to go in September again, with my own gear. I just want to take part,” Model says. “I love biking, a lot.”
Marcia Dick of the addictions centre says the camp is specifically for those who have been impacted by substance use, don’t have access to organized sports and who experience other barriers in life.
“These are guys that have it rough in life. They don’t normally get these types of opportunities,” she says. “Last year they just connected with the pro riders.”
The camp is completely funded through sponsorship and is open to anyone within the Interior Health region. Participants nominate themselves, friends or family members and it’s based on a first come, first serve basis for those who meet the criteria. The camp includes food, transportation to and from the park, bike shuttling, bike gear and new bikes. Bikes are gifted to participants after the camp is done and they complete a post-evaluation survey.
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According to Cameron Model, mountain biking is a passion that has saved his life.
(JENNIFER STAHN / iNFOnews.ca)