Up, up and away

Sally Cole
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After months and months of anticipation, Stonepark Immediate students Lacey Koughan, left, Ashley FitzPatrick, Maddy Neuffer and Sarah Jenkins can’t contain their excitement. The P.E.I. show they were part of last summer will be on television this weekend. CBC Cross Country Fun Hunt airs Nov. 17 at 9:30 a.m.

P.E.I. dancer Lacey Koughan and a few of her teenaged friends got to experience the ultimate P.E.I. adventure this past summer.

They took visiting teen idol Jordan Francis on a rollicking tour of Canada’s smallest province.

One sunny July day, Lacey and pals Sarah Jenkins, Ashley Fitzpatrick and Maddy Neuffer, as well as Lacey’s  sister Celia Koughan, accompanied the movie star (Camp Rock)  on a hot air balloon ride (Above and Beeyond Balloon Adventures), a Eurobobble adventure (Get Bobbled) and a fishing excursion with Mark Jenkins along the coast of Prince Edward Island where they hauled in lobster traps.

“The idea was to show the fun things that P.E.I. has says the Stratford teen.

Later, when they returned to Charlottetown, Lacey and her sister, Celia, stopped by their family’s dance studio to teach Francis how to step dance. Then, after a little practice, he joined Lacey on stage during their Keltic Kids show at the Charlottetown waterfront.

“Because he knows tap dancing, he caught on quickly. He’s very talented. And it was really exciting to meet him,” says Lacey.

Four months later, she’s pinching herself to believe that it all really happened.

“It was such a great opportunity,” she says.

That’s because everywhere they went, television cameras followed, taping their every move for a new television series.

Now, after much anticipation, the P.E.I. episode will air this Saturday during CBC’s Cross Country Fun Hunt at 9:30 a.m.

The show will condense their one-day adventures into an entertaining show for all of Canada to watch.

“I’m really excited and maybe a little bit nervous because I want to see it (so much),” says Lacey.

In contrast, her friend Maddy is looking forward to seeing how the technical side turned out.

“I’m curious to see the final results. For example, the cameraman took hours of footage but will only use 13 minutes for the show. I also learned what was involved in taping a television show ... There’s a lot of starting and stopping,” says Maddy, who also had some fun moments.

“We each got a turn inside a Eurobobble (a giant hamster ball for humans that when placed in a pool allows people to walk on water) at the North River Causeway.... At first I thought it was going to be scary but it was really fun,” she says.

Ashley also enjoyed the learning curve. She was part of the ground crew that followed the balloon from Hunter River to a bean field in New Glasgow.

“We learned lots, like how they blow up a hot air balloon . . . . It was really cool,” she says.

The seeds for this great Island adventure were planted last November when Lacey was searching for auditions for upcoming kids’ shows online. After a few minutes, she came across a listing for a show called Cross Country Fun Hunt.

The new CBC television series allows young people to pitch hometown locations as contenders for the most fun spot in Canada.

“To enter, you had to submit an audition tape, so I started thinking about about all the favourite things I like to do on P.E.I., made a video about it and sent it in,” Lacey says.

For the first few months she didn’t hear anything. But, in April or May, she received word that Francis would be coming in July along with a cameraman and producer for a live taping.

“We were so excited. We only had a day to do it all. So we started early. We had to be in Hunter River by seven o’clock in the morning to catch the balloon ride. The rest of the day was non-stop.”

Four months later, the teen idol recalls his day-long visit to P.E.I. fondly.

“I loved my trip. I got to take that long bridge ... I had a ride in a hot air balloon where I got to see and enjoy the beauty of the whole Island,” says Francis, during a telephone interview from Toronto.

He also experienced some great hospitality, including a lobster dinner, and made some new friends.

“P.E.I. is a great place with a small-town feel. Everyone is so welcoming,” he says.


Fast facts

Canadian kids often know better than anyone where to find fun in their communities. That’s why Jordan Francis (Camp Rock) and CBC asked them to lead the hunt, sharing the activities and places they love. The result is the show, Cross Country Fun Hunt, airing Saturday mornings, which highlights Canada’s most fun things to do — as chosen by under-16 youth.

Francis started on his journey last July and made stops in every province. His travel itinerary followed kids’ suggestions; many stops were chosen by an online vote of the submissions posted by kids highlighting their local fun spots. The most popular places received a visit.

Getting in touch: For more information about the attractions/people mentioned in the story, go to www.cbc.ca/kids/games/funhunt, www.gotbobbled.com, http://aboveand

beeyond.com, http://camprocknews.com.

Organizations: CBC

Geographic location: Canada, Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown Hunter River New Glasgow

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