By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The Fred Scharmann Memorial Hiking Trip departs from Morinville Community High School (MCHS) Wednesday morning, an inaugural outing to the mountains in memory of a Morinville businessman remembered as an avid outdoorsman and community volunteer. About 20 MCHS students will take part in the three-day trip, returning Saturday.
Greg Boutestein, an MCHS teacher and friend of the late Fred Scharmann said the trip has been at the school for many years but has not been as consistent as the annual school bike trip through Jasper National Park, which Scharmann was a dedicated volunteer participant in for about 16 years. The hiking trip was revitalized last year and will continue annually in Scharman’s honour.
“With Fred’s passing, to me it just made absolute sense to name it in Fred’s honour because of the bike trip and his love of the mountains,” Boutestein said. “He and I did a lot of those bike trips together.”
Boutestein said students would do some longer hiking Thursday and Friday, travelling up to some alpine areas and covering about 20 kilometres per day depending on the weather. The MCHS teacher said September is a good time to make the trek because there is no snow to contend with. “It’s just a whole different beast when you are dealing with snow,” he said.
Scharmann’s widow, Sheila, said she likes the idea of the trip taking place early in the school year. “I think it’s also nice at this time of the year that the kids can get a bond early in the year that will stand them throughout their years,” she said, adding she is pleased the school has decided to dedicate the trip in her husband’s memory. “Fred was huge in the community in a variety of ways, starting way back with the scouting movement. He started with scouts, then soccer, and the ambulance, and RCMP auxiliary. He just had his finger in the pie and he believed in making the community a better place by working with the people.”
Mrs. Scharmann said her husband was fond of the mountains and loved to take part in the annual Roger Champagne Memorial bike Trip, an annual outing that put him in his element.
“This trip would just be a natural for him,” she said. “It just matches everything that Fred stood for – love of nature, helping the community, working with kids, continuing to bond with Greg [Boutestein]. Everything he stood for, this trip embodies. I couldn’t be happier and am very honoured.”
Scharmann hopes the memorial trip will encourage students to one day become dedicated volunteers like those accompanying the students on the trip. “I think it is also teaching them to do things that are a little bit unusual,” she said. “Not every high school kid is into hiking. So you are teaching them that is a great thing to do, and they see it is important to give back to the community too in that way. Maybe one of these kids, when they are 40, will be a support vehicle driver. That is another way that they are educated and Fred would want that, too.”
Boutestein is pleased to see another MCHS nature outing taking place each year. “Any trip like this where you can take kids up and get them engaged in the wild and in the mountains and taking advantage of that; that to me is huge,” he said. “That’s education at its purest form. You are not teaching them math. You are not teaching them science. You are teaching them a passion for where they live and a passion for nature in general.”