By Steve Hubrecht

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A local teen recently attended a youth leadership summit in Castlegar and returned to the Columbia Valley inspired.

Cameron Dickson has lived in Invermere most of his life, and graduated from David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) a few weeks ago. The Invermere and Radium Rotary Clubs pooled their resources to send Dickson to the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) conference in Castlegar from July 1 to July 7.

The week-long experience involved guest speakers, seminars, lectures and sessions focusing on different qualities of leadership, such as communications, goal setting, and self-improvement.

“It was incredible,” Dickson told the Pioneer. 

He admits that when people who had been to the conference before described the summit as one of the seminal experiences of their lives, he was a little bit skeptical. But, having now attended, he concedes they were right.

“I had a fantastic time. I learned so much and I will take so much from the summit into my future,” said Dickson. 

The 18-year old teen was born in Victoria, B.C. to two parents from New Zealand, and as a consequence, he holds dual New Zealand-Canadian citizenship. His family moved to Invermere when Cameron was barely a year old and he’s grown up here ever since.

He loves the outdoor lifestyle of the Columbia Valley, and spends his spare time hiking, biking and skiing. 

Dickson is the president of the Columbia Valley Interact Club (for high school aged Rotary Club members) and organized the Peak Potential Employment program at the school, to help younger students learn about and get experience in the ski and recreation industry. He was administrative head of the DTSS Yearbook Committee and was involved with the Glacier Peaks Gymnastics Winter Cup, CVCF home soccer tournaments, and the DTSS badminton team.

This November Dickson will fly to New Zealand and spend the austral summer working whatever odd jobs he can find, before starting his Bachelor of Engineering, with a major in computer science at Victoria University in Wellington.

Dickson is familiar with the country his parents hail from; his family has made return visits to New Zealand once every three years or so for as long as he can remember, and all his extended family lives there.

“I’ve always loved living in Invermere, but I wanted to go study in New Zealand (in a city that is large, at least relative to Invermere) because I think in life you sometimes need to take a leap of faith beyond what you’ve always known, to see if you like other stuff too,” Dickson told the Pioneer.

At DTSS, classes related to computer programming were always his favourite, and he had a great experience doing a job placement in information technology (IT) at Panorama Mountain Resort.

“It (computer science) is a growing field and I like doing it. That’s why I’m going into the field,” said Dickson, adding his ultimate dream job would be managing the IT department of a major destination resort.