Outdoor Education Update: March 2023

GO! Program Update:
Over the past three months our GO! Program students have been fully embracing all that a true Canadian winter has to offer! Back in January, GO! students completed their Avalanche Safety Training Level 1 course with Canada West Mountain School. Students spent two full days learning about snowpacks, weather, terrain, and other elements that contribute to avalanche risk while in the backcountry. Students learned how to use a transceiver, probe and various shoveling techniques, which are all important survival skills and equipment for exploring the backcountry in the wintertime. Students will use this new knowledge to assess avalanche reports and be informed on their Winter Camping expeditions. 

At the start of February, half of the GO! Program embarked on a snowshoeing and winter camping excursion in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The group snowshoed 6 km up the Diamond Head Trail to camp at Red Heather, where they built elaborate snow kitchens, pitched their own tents, and settled in for the three-day expedition. Other activities included snowshoeing to the top of Round Mountain, discovering the joys of a crazy carpet, and cooking some delicious backcountry meals. This was an amazing accomplishment for these students as they challenged themselves and put into practice outdoor survival skills they have been learning all year. Way to GO!

The other half of the GO! Program will be embarking on this same excursion at the end of March, but this group will be traveling on skis! Students are excited for their first backcountry ski trip and an opportunity to put their well-practiced skills to good use!  

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Grade 3 Snow Days:
The Grade 3s also got out in February for some fun and exploration in the snow! On February 27, 3H travelled to Cypress Mountain for a day of learning and fun. While exploring the Hollyburn Trail, students learned about the trees and how they communicate amongst themselves. Students also learned how to build effective shelters and spent time being creative in nature and expressing their true selves and feelings through art. 

On February 28, 3Y had a true Vancouver “Snow Day” with an abundance of fresh snow to enjoy! Students spent the day on campus at YHS and participated in a variety of activities, including art and design in the snow, snow sculpture competitions, and shelter-building challenges. Students learned about conduction in winter and how to stay warm while outdoors. 

Both groups look forward to their trip to Lighthouse Park in April!


Winter Outdoor Ed Trips 2022

GO! Program Update
In October, the Grade 10 Get Outside! (GO!) Program completed their Introduction to Wilderness First Aid Training with Canada West Mountain School. Over the course of the three days, students learned a variety of new skills, such as how to make a splint or stretcher in the wilderness, how to create an effective hypothermic wrap, the 10 essential items needed for all wilderness excursions, and the many important steps involved in the assessment and care of a patient. This 16-hour certification will be an important tool and knowledge piece for students on future excursions, both in the GO! program and in their personal lives. 

Then, with much excitement, the GO! Program embarked on their first overnight excursion in November! Traveling north to Squamish, the group camped out at Camp Summit for a three-day, two-night outdoor adventure. Immersing themselves in three days of outdoor education, the students learned important survival skills, such as how to stay warm in the outdoors, how to cook and prepare nutritious meals over a camp stove, and how to navigate effectively while using a map and compass. Students embarked on a 6-km hike on the Four-Lakes Trail in Alice Lake Provincial Park, discovered the old-growth forests and trees in the area, and had an interactive Indigenous education workshop with Alice Guss, who shared stories from the local area and taught the group how to weave cedar. Students were introduced to nature journaling and reflecting on all the things that make their lives “rich” while out in the outdoors and living in the beautiful province of British Columbia. Due to extreme winter weather, the group returned to Vancouver a day early, exercising one of the many key practices for adventuring in the outdoors and learning first-hand the importance of monitoring weather patterns and making decisions to mitigate risk. 

Despite the snowy weather, the group was still able to travel to the HIVE on the final day for their Introduction to Bouldering lesson. During the session, students learned important climbing skills and challenged themselves to conquer new routes and techniques. It was impressive to see the teamwork amongst the students and how well they cheered each other on and supported one another. This a true testament to the power of an overnight excursion and group bonding that results from time in the outdoors together! The GO! students are looking forward to more exciting excursions together in the new year.

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Grade 1 & 2 Forest Day at Pacific Spirit Park (Nov 2022)
This November, both the Grade 1 and 2 students ventured to Pacific Spirit Park for a full day of outdoor learning and discovery in the forest. Led by the Outdoor Education Coordinator, Katrina Brennan, and Outdoor Education Specialists, Shannon Harrigan and Jess Dick, students focused on three main areas of learning: wildlife, trees, and art in nature. Through hands-on activities, games, stories, songs, and creative play, the students learned how animals camouflage and survive in the wilderness. They learned about the different types of trees and how they communicate with each other. And they also learned about being themselves and expressing their creativity through art using nature and the forest as their canvas. Students took things one step further and fully embraced life in the forest by assuming a self-declared “nature name” for the day, which they used for the entire visit. Forest Day was filled with lots of laughter, inquisitive play, and exciting new discoveries! The Grade 1s and 2s are looking forward to their Beach Day in the spring, where they will explore a new ecosystem and environment. 

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Grade 5 at Camp Elphinstone (Oct 17-19, 2022)
Grade 5 students embarked on their overnight camp excursion this October, when they traveled to Camp Elphinstone on the Sunshine Coast. Heading over to Gibson, the group kicked off their three-day adventure with an exciting paddle into camp in large voyageur canoes. Led by the Sea to Sky Outdoor School staff, students immersed themselves in camp life at Elphinstone and all it has to offer. Through games, activities, and workshops, students learned about nature and the unique ecosystems of BC, as well as steps they can take to improve our local environment. The Grades 5s spent time developing their outdoor survival skills and exercised “challenge by choice” principles when trying exciting new things in the outdoors! Thank you to our Senior Students Leaders, who joined the Grade 5s at camp and role-modeled all that we can learn and benefit from while being outside and participating in outdoor education.

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