Fourteen year-old Maddy Dorion is packing light for her summer trip across Canada
“It’s not a glamorous trip,” the Oak Bay teen said with a laugh. “It’s – lets have fun, get down to earth, experience this country … I’m just really excited to meet new people.”
Packing light meant she planned for one dress and a lot of bug spray before leaving Sunday (June 22) on the CISV Peace Bus for a 39-day trip across Canada.
“The main reason I’m doing this is I’ve traveled so much internationally, I can now really represent Canada. I’ve never really experienced Canada,” she said. “It’s my country, I’m proud to live in Canada but I’ve never been past Vancouver.”
The recent Central middle school graduate and 11 other youth aged 14 to 16, along with three leaders will alternate camping, up to a week at a time, and billeting along the way.
The Peace Bus is a CISV Canada, (formerly Children’s International Summer Villages) program which takes Canadian youth on a trip to educate and inspire them through experiential learning and volunteering while focusing on the four pillars of CISV: human rights, sustainability, diversity and conflict resolution.
Dorion first joined a CISV project at age 11 when she spent a month in Norway. Last year, she did an exchange that included more than two weeks in France.
“I think it’s something I’ll want to do the rest of my life,” she said. “It’s changed who I am. I’m much more willing to take chances. I want to explore.”
She’s developed worldwide connections citing Facebook friends from far off places that she regularly interacts with.
It’s not unusual for her to start the day Snapchatting with a pal in Brazil.
During the trip, the group volunteers in communities, engages in educational projects, participates in team-building activities and learns about Canada. In Victoria, their volunteer work included creating harm reduction packs and a beach clean up.
She’s excited to take the trip with like-minded youth interested in learning about friendships, peace, acceptance and other cultures.
“It’s a really nice environment to be around. It’s like having another family,” she said. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and really being able to see Canada … These are things that stick with you for a lifetime.”
A second bus, carrying those aged 15 to 18 travels west leaving Halifax on July 17.
Dorion will still get to spend some of the summer in Oak Bay before starting her first year at Vic High in the fall, as the trip is slated to end in Halifax on July 31.