New Experiences and Learning at Grade 8 Winter Camp
Community building and personal growth are among the common themes that run throughout the Outdoor and Experiential Education Programme at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS), and they remained the focus of the unique Grade 8 winter camp experience.
“The camp was a great success despite the inability to do some of our traditional activities,” says David Lee ’94, vice principal at SMCS. “The students, leaders, and staff had a great time.”
Grade 8 students attended Camp Wanakita in Haliburton, Ontario with ALIVE Outdoors, an experiential and outdoor education company, from January 9 to 12 — the first four days back following the Christmas holidays.
With the recent warm temperatures and lack of snow, some of the traditional activities students experience such as cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and tobogganing, weren’t possible this year.
“We had some new rotations including orienteering, Arctic and Inuit games, and we had never done the low ropes courses or climbing initiatives in the winter,” says Lee. “We also had our first ever outdoor winter campfire liturgy.”
More than 75 students and senior student-leaders along with six faculty members attended this year’s winter camp. In addition to the valuable experiential education opportunities, the trip allows students to make lasting connections with their peers and the opportunity to be mentored and learn from the student-leaders — many of whom have experienced it for themselves.
“Students need to be fully immersed in the outdoors and understand nature during the winter season,” says Lee on the importance of providing a winter camp experience. “Many engage in winter activities such as skating or skiing but they rarely take the time to be present in the environment and reflect on the experience. Hopefully, they will be more mindful and appreciate the winter experience more.”
Check out a photo gallery below of the 2023 winter outdoor and experiential education camp for Grade 8 students: