Toss away the dated images of tittering, bouffant adorned, swim-suit clad beauty queens tottering across the screen in cheesy 60s and 70s sit-coms and movies. Today’s Lady of the Lake ambassador program is a varied and vibrant journey of self discovery, confidence building and community involvement. Nearly a dozen local girls have already started on the first steps down that path.
“We’ve come oh so far!” said Lady of the Lake Society Chair, Denise Allan. “We’re out and about everywhere and the girls act as the representatives for their sponsors for the entire year.”
The ways that prospective hopefuls link up with sponsors are many and varied and the society is always thrilled to welcome new sponsor organizations and businesses. This year there are two new, first-time sponsors, Terri-Lynn Warren, owner/operator of Fit for a Princess and Corrine and Sean Pratz of Pratz Bookkeeping Services.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do right from the get-go,” said Warren. “The program is so good for the girls and it gives me the chance to give back to the community that’s been so supportive.”
For the girls themselves, the journey that is Lady of the Lake is full of hard work, learning and new opportunities. There is the Island Savings sponsored essay contest, a tour of the Kaatza Museum, attending a town council meeting to meet the mayor and council not to mention a workshop at Community Services on resume and career building. The girls work closely with the Chamber of Commerce and will be attending the upcoming Home Show in June as well as helping out at Palsson school’s annual Spring Fling.
“This is a way for my peers and I to be more active in our community, excel in confidence and learn how to be our very best at all times,” said Miss Island Savings, Sara Ferguson.
The girls receive eight weeks of training with a Toastmasters coach in public speaking which teaches skills that can literally last a lifetime.
“The Toastmasters program is one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said reigning Lady of the Lake, Alicia Fall. “I had a great time as a candidate last year learning public speaking and time management skills as well as gaining self confidence and a strong work ethic.”
A strong work ethic is absolutely a necessity just to keep up with the demands of the program. The girls help work on the Lady of the Lake float, including set-up and tear-down and attend all the events all year long. There are speeches to compose and memorize, talents to polish, plus eight weeks of dance rehearsals to attend at the Track Fitness. The girls spend many hours together and form an amazing camaraderie.
“I value the lifetime experiences and all the new things that I’m learning from this,” said Miss Royal Canadian Legion Branch 210, Shelby Scott.
So keep an eye out around town for some bright, enthusiastic young women who are working hard to be the best ever ambassadors for our community.
In the words of Lake Cowichan Elks Lodge representative, Emily Pastor, “Lady of the Lake gives me the chance to represent my town in the best way that I can and I think that is a great opportunity!”
$450 for a priceless experience
You’re a 16-year-old girl. Perhaps you’ve been encouraged by friends and family or perhaps it’s been a life long dream, but you finally pluck up the courage to run for Lady of the Lake. Excitement and anticipation quickly turn to despair, when you are unable to compete because you can’t find a sponsor.
“It happens all the time,” said Lady of the Lake Society chair, Denise Allan. “It happens on both ends. Sometimes it’s a sponsor with no candidate, but more sadly, it’s often a girl with no sponsor.”
So just what does it take to sponsor a Lady of the Lake candidate? It takes a commitment, a large dose of community spirit and above all, money.
“It’s $450 to sponsor a girl. We had to raise the fee for the first time in many, many years,” said Allan. “We’re happy to take just half up front and the rest in a month or so. Whatever works.”
Of the $450, the girls themselves receive $150 as a clothing allowance. This helps them to acquire the many gowns and outfits that they need for events like Opportunity Night, the Strawberry Tea and their many public appearances.
“The Society owns half a dozen gowns and we always encourage the girls to lend and borrow,” said Allan.
The remaining $300 goes to the Lady of the Lake Society to help keep the program afloat. It helps cover costs like entry fees for parades, ferry fares, fuel costs for chaperones and getting the float to various events.
“We do an overhaul on the float every few years and thank goodness we have a Town of Lake Cowichan truck to haul it,” said Allan.
All the countless hours that go into designing, building and transporting the float are all donated by volunteers. Rob Frost drives the float and his wife Tanya often acts as a chaperone.
“Our main fundraiser is bottle collecting. We’re so grateful to the Cowichan Lake Marina and Lakeview Park for giving us their bottles and cans,” said Allan. “It’s a really messy job sometimes, but the income is a huge help.”
Sponsors do tend to come and go depending on economic conditions, but thankfully there is a long time, core group who can be counted on year after year.
Lady of the Lake is a life changing experience for the girls involved and a huge public relations boost for the town, but without the long hours, hard work and commitment of a small group of dedicated volunteers, it just wouldn’t happen. Sometimes too, the job can be exhausting.
“We do the Daffodil Festival in Washington State in April most years and that means getting there, decorating the float with 500 fresh daffodils and doing four parades in one day,” said Allan.
If you are interested in volunteering or donating to the Lady of the Lake Society, contact them at Box 47, Lake Cowichan or stop by the town office.