Out of the basement, into the summer heat

Teens go to work touring the province with McKim Communications

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/08/2015 (2656 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Summer vacation seems like an oxymoron here in Winnipeg — that is, if your idea of vacation is sitting back and relaxing.

The warm weather signals the busiest season for festivals and cultural events. That’s just what the teens in the Get Out of the Basement program are learning for eight weeks as they explore what Winnipeg and Manitoba has to offer.

McKim Communications began the program last summer with four teenagers. This year, the group has grown to 12 and ventured outside of city limits to take in the season’s festivals and sights.

Supplied photo Back row: Nick George. Middle row (left): Grace Genaille, Mackenzie Medeiros, Brianna Kaldor-Mair, Ryan Steel, Ben Boxall, Georgia Xu, Jillian Long, and Sam Sawchuk. Front row (left): Aidan Towers, Zoë George, and Riva Billows.

Teens from high schools all over Winnipeg — including Collège Sturgeon Heights Collegiate — took part this year.  

“We interview creative and ambitious teens to take part,” said McKim’s account manager, Kathryn Patrick. “That age — 16 to 17 — is a very important time for teens. They begin to make decisions about school and their future, and we want to expose them to their own province and educate them.”

The group spends the summer visiting events like Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Icelandic Festival, Interstellar Rodeo and Folklorama. Besides enjoying these cultural staples, the teens are learning to market the events through articles and media. At Folk Fest, they shot a short MTV Cribs parody and interviewed campers about what makes their tents unique.

“To promote the Gimli Film Festival, we did a video in the style of Guy Maddin,” Patrick said. “They also do debate videos. It’s very much a campaign focus.”

The summer-long job also gives teens the chance to connect with like-minded peers, which is harder to do when school isn’t in session.

“It’s been great so far,” said Sam Sawchuk, 15. “It’s definitely better than spending the summer inside. I’ve met a lot of people.”

The program runs Monday to Friday to simulate a regular work week, although some events take place on weekends. Because it’s a paid position, the group divides time between outings and working at the office on their projects.

“We had some people return from last year, but for the majority it was a new experience,” says Patrick. “It’s really challenging, but in an interesting way. It was a chance to use their creativity.”

“It’s definitely better than spending the summer inside. I’ve met a lot of people.” – Sam Sawchuck.

Patrick said that a transformation takes place throughout the months of July and August — as a result of being in front of the camera and approaching strangers, they gain confidence and come out of their shells.

“There’s a lot of professional development,” Patrick said. “Some of them come into the program rather shy, and they leave feeling refreshed having seen a new aspect of the world.”
This year, the program’s been sponsored by Travel Manitoba, making it possible to visit more events than the previous year. According to Patrick, it provides a unique working environment that is distinct from the experience of working a retail job.

“A retail job is challenging too, but this is challenging in a different way.”

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