Outdoor Education is an important part of a Southridge student's experience. Students learn to appreciate and understand their natural environment through experience while developing the skills and attitudes required to both enjoy and excel in the outdoors. The program's goal is to support students in acquiring the knowledge and values that support their development as global, environmentally aware citizens and responsible stewards of the planet. As we look forward to this year's outdoor education trips, here are some reflections from our students from last year.
HOW HAS YOUR OUTDOOR EDUCATION EXPERIENCE BEEN THIS YEAR?
AD - I participated in the Juan de Fuca backpack and Howe Sound kayak trips. These two trips were both two-night outdoor trips, the perfect chance to make great memories with friends and people who I didn’t really know but who loved the same things as me. Southridge outdoor ed trips are always so amazingly planned 0and so fun to participate in. The teachers are passionate about what they do and the trips themselves are so challenging and exhilarating.
MM - I really enjoyed my outdoor education experience this year. Going to camp and learning how to canoe and build a fire was really cool. It was fun to spend almost a week with my classmates just playing outdoors and getting to learn these new outdoor skills.
WHAT WAS THE MOST VALUABLE THING YOU LEARNED DURING THE OUTDOOR EDUCATION PROGRAM?
AD - I learned what nature can do for you. In our daily lives we rely so heavily on technology that the moment we step outside of that realm, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. These trips have helped me to learn to enjoy the quiet moments and to appreciate what nature has to offer.
MM - The most valuable thing I learned was how to collaborate with classmates. When we learned how to canoe, we had to work together so we didn’t just go around and around in circles. I think doing this at the beginning of the year helps you prepare for working on group projects with your classmates.
DID YOU LEARN ANY NEW SKILLS OR DISCOVER NEW PASSIONS WHILE PARTICIPATING?
AD - Yes! I had never been camping prior to my grade eight year. Now I love backpacking, kayaking, and anything to do with being outdoors has become my passion. I have learned how to fulfill that passion safely. I have learned key skills like backcountry cooking, tent setup, and how to work alongside so many different people.
MM - I learned how to build a fire, canoe, how to make tea from leaves and how to climb some really high ropes. The best part was definitely the fire building. It was really satisfying to build your own fire from scratch.
WHAT WERE THE HARDEST PARTS/BIGGEST CHALLENGES?
AD - One of the hardest parts was realizing that sometimes it’s more important to listen to yourself and others before over-pushing past what you can physically do. Additionally, I am very much a busy body. Learning to be still or even just to look around and enjoy the moment rather than focusing on the destination had been difficult but proven helpful.
MM - The hardest part was the lead up of having to sleep away from home. I had never been to a summer camp or done anything like that before. The weeks leading up to it I was pretty nervous just because I didn’t know what to expect. It actually ended up being really fun and not bad at all. The teachers and the counsellors were really good and helped us with anything we needed.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO WILL PARTICIPATE IN THE FUTURE?
AD - Packing appropriately is key to having the best experience. Remember that rain pants may not look good but they are necessary! I think the most important thing is to just go for it and try it out. There’s no better way to see if you like something than by just throwing yourself at it and trying.
MM - Definitely not to worry! Everything I was worried about turned out to be no big deal at all. Try to go in with an open mind! It actually goes by really fast and before you know it you are on the bus coming home. And now I am excited for our Outdoor Experience next year!
Contributed by Aleksandra D, Grade 10 Student and Matteo M, Grade 8 Student
Excerpt originally published in Spirit Magazine - Spring 2023