Members of the Youth Training School’s 1953 class were in Creston for their 60-year reunion. Front row: (from left) Arnold Amonson

Members of the Youth Training School’s 1953 class were in Creston for their 60-year reunion. Front row: (from left) Arnold Amonson

Members of Youth Training School celebrate 60-year reunion in Creston Valley

Web Lead

  • Sep. 16, 2013 1:00 p.m.

Decades since they met, 12 seniors from around the province gathered at Lister Park on Saturday to celebrate 60 years since they attended the Youth Training School.

They were joined at the reunion by Allan Deschamps, principal of the program at the University of British Columbia, which ran each January and February for about two decades.

“We had the facilities at one of the old Army camps, and it was my responsibility to put together the program for the two months,” said the 88-year-old Deschamps.

The program was subsidized by the federal and provincial governments, and, based on archived photos at the UBC website, ran from 1939-1959. It allowed B.C.’s rural youth aged 16-30 to attend UBC for two months at a cost of just $30, with boys studying agriculture and girls learning homemaking, as well as seeing what other education was available.

For a self-proclaimed “country boy” like Creston’s Alf Wellspring — and Creston’s Lew Truscott, Paul Shersteboff and Mervin Montgomery, who attended in other years — it was a chance too good to pass up.

“How could I know what there was for education without going there?” Wellspring said. “It was not a lot of education, but finding out where to go to get it.”

Also, and perhaps more, important were the friendships that developed between the 65 members of Wellspring’s 1953 class — they have regularly gotten together every two years.

“The friendships that were started there have lasted,” said Wellspring. “I’m sure we enjoy friendships that a lot of people don’t.”