GO! Wilderness First Aid Training Experience

By Terra & Lauren
Grade 10 GO! Program Participants

During the last two weeks of school before winter break, the Grade 10 GO cohort participated in a course with Coast Wilderness Medical Training. The GO cohort is a group of fourteen students. Along with our teacher, Hahn Vincent, we learn through experience in the outdoors. In December, we (along with Ms. Yeh) participated in a two-day Backcountry Emergency first aid course that taught us how to best handle emergencies in the wilderness. After an online module, skill-building session, and opportunities for hands-on application, we all achieved our Backcountry Emergency Certification.

In a normal year, the YHS GO Program involves several multi-day backcountry excursions. However, with the restrictions of COVID-19, we have had to adapt to single-day excursions and other opportunities for learning. Some of our single-day excursions have included kayaking, cycling, and hiking to Dog Mountain and Buntzen Lake. With Ms. Vincent, we have developed skills in areas of navigation, tarpology, backcountry nutrition, ethnobotany, knots, and risk assessment and management.

Our December Backcountry Emergency Certification course gave us a chance to learn valuable information about wilderness first aid so that we are prepared for future independent trips. Throughout the course, we learned how to assess various emergency situations, including allergic reactions, airway closures, spinal injuries, hypothermia, or broken bones. We did this through mock scenarios where a “patient” acted out symptoms of a specific injury and we as “responders” diagnosed their condition and figured out the best course of action. These scenarios were essential for us and our learning because they prompted feelings of stress and urgency mirroring real-life circumstances. Being in GO, we continually find ourselves in environments where these scenarios are very possible. After completing this course, we will have the knowledge and confidence to be responsible for ourselves and others and to be prepared to mitigate and manage risks in the outdoors.

Our GO Program students also completed their AST 1 (Avalanche Skills Training) in February. Read more here.


Fall Outdoor Ed Trips 2020

The Outdoor Education experience at YHS looked a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In spite of our new normal, we were able to continue to deliver a meaningful and energizing Outdoor Education program for students in Grades 1-10. During this challenging time, simply spending time in the outdoors is one of the best ways to help calm the mind, keep the body active, and the spirit nurtured. 

These are some of the outdoor adventures our Yorkies experienced this fall:

Grade 1-3 Forest Days:
Throughout October, Grades 1-3 ventured out class by class with Ms. Vincent to Pacific Spirit Park to explore the forests and immerse in nature. They donned their nature names, learned about forest safety, split into groups to dive deep into the forest paths, then met up at a beautiful lunch spot as a whole class. Students learned about plants, creatures, and ecology of the forest while experiencing fun free-play in these amazing natural spaces. They found slugs, bugs, birds, and many tree species. They shared stories, songs, and spent time as squirrels in an epic game of squirrels vs. jays!

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Grade 7 Canoeing:
Each Grade 7 class had the opportunity to paddle Montreal style canoes with Ridge Wilderness Adventure guides and Ms. Vincent. Each class explored a different location in the Vancouver area including Pitt Meadows and Rocky Point Park. They learned the Eagle Stroke, Voyageur salute, and how to paddle together to have an epic canoe race. We learned about local flora and fauna, tides, and spotted some seals from our boats! Some students saw vast wetlands for birds and the peaks of Pinecone Burke Park. Others learned about outdoor tarp shelter building, knots, first aid, and spied jellyfish too! 

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Grade 8 Canoeing:
Our Grade 8 students had amazing days outside in two different locations, with two different types of boats. Group A headed to Pitt Meadows on a glorious sunny day to paddle in tandem canoes. They worked on paddle strokes, bow and stern paddling, and even witnessed three bald eagles looking for fish near their lunch spot on a low-tide mudflat.

Group B headed to Rocky Point and paddled beautiful big voyageur canoes. Together they worked to paddle efficiently and learned both the peaceful Voyageur Salute and the powerful Eagle Stroke. They explored the ocean bay and found jellyfish, crabs, and seals in their natural habitats. 

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Grade 4, 5, and 6:
Grades 4 and 5 spent the day with Sea to Sky Outdoor School at Capilano River Regional Park, hiking in the beautiful forests, exploring their senses and the micro realms of fungi and plant species. The Capilano River was rushing and it was amazing to see the churning water as they hiked over bridges, had a picnic lunch and even spotted some wildlife! Students donned their nature names, and reflected on the importance of forest ecosystems, the incredible life cycle of the salmon, and how we are all connected on this earth through our actions and behaviours. 

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The Grade 6s visited Lynn Canyon and Rice Lake. Students hiked through the misty forests, spending time with the trees and plants, learning about the actions of conservation in the watersheds surrounding Vancouver, and how one person’s actions can have monumental impacts to the environment. Students challenged their wild sides with mini nature challenges and ended with an Earth Life Systems game, learning about environmental impacts and how to make positive change for the planet. 

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Grade 10 GO Program
The Grade 10 GO class has adapted well amidst the changing times and BC Ministry Guidelines. The students have shifted to a model of day trips instead of multi-day overnights, and have had a blast participating in new activities such as hiking, kayaking, urban cycling, and other outdoor skills like setting up tarp shelters, stove safety and use, knots, and navigation. Students dove into the study of Ethnobotany, travelling to Pacific Spirit Park to locate and identify native plants and create beautiful presentations. Furthermore, students learned about the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace, which everyone should know when spending time in the outdoors! 

At the end of November, the girls ventured out for two days of hiking at Buntzen Lake and Mt. Seymour. We had all sorts of weather, from pouring rain to snow and glimmering sunshine which gave us the perfect opportunity to test our gear and preparedness! Most of all, it was an incredible experience to spend time in nature, de-stress, and bond as a group while working our hiking muscles and learning about travelling in different types of mountain terrain. 

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Hahn Vincent
Outdoor Education Coordinator