Description & History:
White Rock Youth Ambassadors (WRYA) comes from a tradition that is 50 years old, that being the Miss White Rock Pageant. What began as a summer beauty pageant in Surrey and WR has now morphed into a contemporary, volunteer and self-developmental program for teens who are chaperoned and mentored by members of the community in a safe, positive and nurturing environment.
Ambassadors programs exist across the province from New West to New Denver, from Powell River to Peachland, Cranbrook to Lake Cowichan. There is also a BC Ambassador Program for graduates of the regional programs, where the scholarships increase substantially.
The candidate’s year begins in February and ends in June the following year. Participants are much changed; more skilled, more confident, having shared experiences of working, traveling and living together.
The program is community-based with funding from White Rock City council, its service organizations, South Surrey/White Rock Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and fundraising. The White Rock Youth Ambassador Program is completely run by volunteers.
To participate, candidates must, attend school, live or work in South Surrey or White Rock.
Candidates are matched to sponsors, either a local business or a service group. Candidates buy coordinated business suits and khaki casuals for uniformity when volunteering. They compete in a series of judged events: a talent and creativity night, public speaking event, community knowledge quiz, an essay and an interview, culminating in the Awards Gala in June.
The judged events allow candidates to learn poise and to take instruction. It also allows them to demonstrate flexibility, reliability, commitment, leadership, helpfulness and display their sense of humour. Ultimately, these qualities are rewarded with position and scholarship.
Toastmasters give one-on-one instruction on speech craft and table talk, as well as how to answer impromptu questions.
Candidates are also offered guidance on etiquette, deportment, hygiene and living a healthy life style.
Throughout the apprenticeship, candidates are supported, guided and encouraged to strive for excellence.
Speech & Talent Night:
Speech and talent night occur the same night in May. Wearing their suits and sponsor banner, candidates deliver a three to four minute memorized original speech on a subject of their choice. Speeches are judged on topic appropriateness, grammar, hand gestures and voice fluctuations. A few sessions at Toastmasters and coaching from Master Toastmaster aids the candidate on how to craft a perfect speech.
Talent and Creativity:
This is an opportunity for the candidate to perform in front of a friendly audience. If you are fortunate enough to sing, play an instrument or dance, well then you are going to have no problem. If you do not have a specific talent then you will have to resort to your creativity. Perhaps your passion is soccer, stamp collecting, journaling, or photography. Maybe you could make a video demonstrating your latest bungee jump or paint a water colour right on stage. Pretty much anything goes and originality counts.
How much does the “White Rock” weigh? How often are the municipal elections held? What are the elements of the coat of arms? How long is the promenade?
It’s important for an Ambassador of White Rock to know something about the community and its history as well as the names of the politicians and the community leaders. This information will be given to you and you will have an opportunity to learn more about White Rock and South Surrey than anyone in your family. And it’s worth the same amount of points as the talent show.
Candidates will be assigned a topic on some aspect of White Rock or South Surrey. The purpose of this is to research this location or event and present an original one-page essay which will be marked by the White Rock Museum and archive staff.
Commitment, Attitude and Attendance:
A mark will be awarded to each candidate for their attendance, and attitude. In reality this is the most important aspect of the entire competition as the benefits of the 18 months will be apparent only if ambassadors participate 100%.
Just days before the Gala, candidates are interviewed by the judges. Each person is asked the same series of questions and this is their opportunity to show their personality and share their opinions.
The final judged event is the actual Gala. Candidates are judged on their sponsor speeches. These are one minute in length, need to be memorized and show how well the candidate knows his or her sponsor. They are judged on their participation in the opening number, (a super fun dance choreographed by a former ambassador) and their presentation of formal wear as well as answering an impromptu question. (Our work with Toastmasters will make this an invaluable skill.)
We volunteer… a LOT.
- Seafest Weekend
- Remembrance Day
- Christmas Day
- Canada Day
- Father’s Day
- Chamber of Commerce Awards of Excellence
- White Rock Museum Family Days
- Polar Bear Swim
- Semiahmoo House Fundraisers
- Peace Arch Hospital Gala
It isn’t easy being a volunteer, knowing what is needed, knowing how to help. Experience is a good teacher. Observing organizers shows the teens what is involved in planning and executing events.
Traveling the province is one of the perks of this program. Our travel schedule depends on availability of chaperones, drivers and funding. Generally we visit Penticton, Merritt, Peachland, Vernon, New Westminster, Kamloops and Lytton.
The benefits of traveling are:
- the opportunity to represent White Rock
- to speak in front of an audience
- to meet teens from other communities and form friendships
Traveling, in general, is enlightening. Seeing similarities and differences in people in other geographical locations leads to considering your own circumstance and think about possibilities and how you want to live your own life.
Expectations & Benefits:
Upon becoming an Ambassador, a contract is signed that outlines our expectations regarding attendance, fundraising, decorum, dos and don’ts. If you show up, participate, organize your time, communicate, and do what you say you will, we will all get along great.
The benefits are relative to the amount you participate. The WRYA program is an amazing addition to your resume or portfolio.
- You will have letters of recommendation from the Mayor, MLA and MP as well as a letter of reference from the coordinators outlining the events in which you participated
- There are job opportunities that Ambassadors have found through the community network
- You will meet a lot of community leaders and have opportunities to distinguish yourself
- You will improve your public speaking and you will be at ease when making conversation with strangers or your elders
- You will acquire sound community knowledge and civic understanding that will serve you well into your adult life
- You may travel and meet members from other towns
- You will gain self-confidence
- You will learn how to dance
- And most importantly, you will have fun!
The costs to the candidates are as follows:
- Approximately $100 for uniform suit. With this you will need comfortable matching dress shoes. We supply the accompanying t shirt and hand bag. We supply a red t-shirt and polar fleece hoodie as well, for the casual uniform which will be worn with beige, khaki Capri’s or board shorts and keds (supplied by the candidate).
- Gown or suit, i.e. formal wear for Gala and volunteer and travel events. This will get a lot of wear. If you buy it after the grad sales you will pay a lot less.
- A $100 deposit which will not be cashed and will be returned to you August 1st. Our sponsors pay $400 per candidate so you can participate in this program. We use these funds for the purchase of nametags, sashes, crowns, medallions, t-shirts and hoodies. If a candidate drops out, we are obligated to refund this sponsorship money to the sponsor but we have already spent it, so that is why we keep $100 of yours until your candidacy is complete.
- When we travel, which is optional, Ambassadors pay for tickets to events and food. This usually is around $100. The program pays for transportation and lodging.
- Your family is required to buy three tickets for the Fashion Show and three tickets for the Gala. At $25 a ticket, this is $75 for each event. The reason for this is obvious. We need an audience for these shows.
Jobs for Parents:
Another development this year involves recruiting the parents to help. In other communities, there are committees who divide the tasks involved in running a program like this. We don’t really have a committee so we decided we need to delegate some tasks to the parents to help us out on the busy times like the Fashion Show, the Gala, Speech and Talent night, Canada Day and the parade. I have a sign up sheet and I will describe the activities in further detail when you volunteer for them.
- Capes, Trophies, to gala
- Crowns and banners to gala
- Set up judges table at gala
- Dishes to and from gala
- Pick up programs and take to theatre
- Set up coffee and clean up after
- Clean-up crew for theatre, front of house, backstage and theatre
- Decorate theatre and take down
- Tables from Elks Club, to and from theatre
- Water to and from Elk’s Lodge and to barbeque
- Soft drinks to and from Elk’s Lodge and barbeque
- Photos to candidates
- Certificates to candidates
- Help decorate
- Strip float
- Transport decorations to and from parade site
- Pick up kids or chaperone them until pick up
- Chaperone event