Four years of volunteering, playing sports and other personal development activities culminated in a chance to receive a certificate from a prince for Saltair’s Taylor Adams.
Adams, 21, recently received the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Gold Certificate for completing the four-year service program.
A Brentwood College School graduate, Adams is going into his fourth year of engineering studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. He received the award from Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, May 18 in Victoria, but he actually completed the program while he was in Grade 12.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is an international award for youth between the ages of 14 and 25. The award was founded by His Royal Highness The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh to encourage personal development and community involvement for young people, and there are three levels: bronze, silver and gold. To earn a gold award, the achievers must complete five sections of the award program — volunteer service, a skill, physical recreation, an adventurous journey, and a residential project, which is spending five days and four nights away from home on an activity shared with people the participant has never met before.
“It was challenging at times, especially at the end of high school, to keep up with everything and to get the book signed to prove I was doing everything,” said Adams. “Other than that, it wasn’t all that much work I guess, or it didn’t seem like work. You’re required to do adventurous journey trips, and these were an awesome experience because I wouldn’t have done that without the program.”
For these adventurous journey trips, Adams and four other program participants went up to Strathcona Park and did a three-day and two-night no-trace camping and canoe trip and also participated in a camping trip to the Horne Lake Caves.
Adams started the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program in Grade 8 when he was a student at Ladysmith Secondary School.
“I was into volunteering back then, and it was another opportunity to do stuff like that,” he said.
In high school, Adams volunteered on student council, and at Brentwood, he was on the grad council. He also did a lot of peer tutoring and peer counselling throughout high school and jumped at many other opportunities to volunteer, such as coaching soccer with the World Cup Soccer Academy and volunteering with the Ladysmith Maritime Society.
Adams says there are many reasons he is motivated to volunteer.
“It makes me feel good, and I like to see other people get things they deserve that they wouldn’t get if it wasn’t for volunteers,” he said. “It’s important for a community to have people who do stuff for free, otherwise nothing fun would get done. I enjoy helping people as well.”
Adams says it felt “really good” to receive the gold certificate after working towards this goal for all those years.
“It was similar to graduating high school just because it was a four-year process to do it, and I imagine it will be like graduating from university,” he said.
Gerry Yellowless was the leader when Adams went through the program, and Adams is grateful for everything he did.
“He was really helpful, and he organized all our outdoor trips and came with us,” he said. “I really appreciate what he did for us. He actually went through the program when he was 20. I hope I can continue to volunteer all throughout like he did.”