DodgeBow at the Ashcroft HUB, May 2021. It’s one of many regular and special activities offered for youth in the area. (Photo credit: Ashcroft HUB/Facebook)

DodgeBow at the Ashcroft HUB, May 2021. It’s one of many regular and special activities offered for youth in the area. (Photo credit: Ashcroft HUB/Facebook)

The Editor’s Desk: If you can’t boost, don’t knock

Comments about how there’s ‘nothing to do here’ are wrong, and don’t help our small towns

I was somewhat taken aback, recently, to read a comment from a resident of the Ashcroft/Cache Creek area about the lack of “organized activities” for youth here. My son is 24, so I haven’t had to look into youth activities on a personal level for some time, but it didn’t take me long to come up with a list that included:

– South Cariboo Minor Soccer Association

– Cache Creek Minor Softball

– Cache Creek Youth Basketball

– Thompson-Cariboo Minor Hockey

– Karate

– Pony Club

– MK Ballet

– Krush Dance

– Sea Cadets

– Voice choir

– Handbell Choir

– Theatre group

– Ashcroft Art Club

– Private individuals offering singing lessons and lessons for various musical instruments

– Swimming lessons and lifeguard training lessons at the Ashcroft pool

– Day camps, after-school programs, and summer camps at the Ashcroft HUB

Some of these activities might have been curtailed during COVID, or are seasonal, but I think you’ll agree that this is a fairly extensive — even impressive — list. I make no claims for its completeness; there could well be groups and activities that I have forgotten. I have also limited it to the Ashcroft and Cache Creek area, and made no mention of everything going on in Clinton.

It’s even more impressive when you consider the relatively small size of the communities that support all these activities. A common knock against small towns is that there’s “nothing to do” there, especially for young people. It conjures up images of communities where — outside of school activities — kids are left to their own devices, unless their parents are prepared to spend large amounts of time shuttling back and forth to a larger centre where the sidewalks don’t roll up at 5 p.m.

This “nothing to do” mentality — especially when it’s spread by people who live here — only harms us in the eyes of people who are considering moving here. If someone from the Lower Mainland who’s thinking of a move to Cache Creek sees locals talking about the lack of organized activities for youth, they can be forgiven for buying into the misconception, and looking elsewhere.

If you look at that list again, you’ll notice that a lot of those activities are organized and run by volunteers. They might be part of a larger organization, such as South Cariboo Minor Soccer or the Cadets, but the people who put in the work to make them happen here, in our backyard, are volunteers, giving freely of their time and expertise so that others can benefit.

So if there’s something you think is missing from that list — whether it’s Brownies or Boy Scouts or a birdwatching club or anything else that may or may not start with the letter “B” — give serious consideration to stepping up and making it happen, if you have the time and inclination. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, ask not what your community can do for you, but what you can do for your community.

And look, I get it: not everyone has time to run a Brownie pack. But please, think before you casually knock our area for all to see. If we’re negative about our towns, we can’t expect anyone else to be positive about them. It’s a tale as old as time, and was obviously a problem in 1927, when the Journal noted that there was talk of a tannery starting up in Clinton. The news seems to have inspired some public backlash and negative comments, prompting editor R.D. Cumming to write some wise words.

“When a good thing comes along fall in line and push,” he advised. “If you can’t boost, don’t knock.”

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