Over the past three weeks, GNS Middle School students have had the opportunity to trade the confines of the classroom for two days of outdoor activity and exploration along the Juan de Fuca trail. Following the November Break, each Middle School grade embarked on an overnight trip to Port Renfrew, focusing on building independence, self-reliance, resiliency and responsibility, while embracing the rugged beauty of Vancouver Island’s west coast.
Departing from school every Tuesday, students, equipped with cold-weather gear and rain suits, boarded buses bound for the Juan de Fuca trail’s initial stop at China Beach. After an easy forest hike, students engaged in beachcombing, shelter building and seaside lunches while enjoying the picturesque surroundings under sunny skies.
The next leg of the journey took us to Port Renfrew, where we settled into the West Coast Trail Lodge at Wild Renfrew, strategically located between the Juan de Fuca Trail and the southern trailhead of the West Coast Trail. Homeroom groups explored various outdoor activities, with one class visiting Botanical Beach for a marine life scavenger hunt, another trekking to Sombrio Beach and discovering a hidden waterfall, and the final group participating in team-building challenges. Witnessing students collaborate and support each other in achieving different goals at each location was truly inspiring. After an engaging afternoon, students and teachers relaxed at the West Coast Trail Lodge, enjoying a warm dinner at the Renfrew Pub prepared by Chef Bear and his team. The evening continued with bingo, a trivia contest and Nanaimo bars, concluding with a well-deserved night’s sleep.
The following morning, students responded to teachers’ wake-up calls (some more eagerly than others), packing up and enjoying a delicious breakfast at the pub before embarking on another round of homeroom activities. Despite the West Coast’s typical November rain, we were fortunate to experience mostly fantastic (though chilly) weather throughout our trips. After the morning excursions, we loaded the buses for a final stop at French Beach, enjoying lunch and a pit stop with a playful display of seals in the offshore kelp beds.
With smiles and happy memories, students returned home to GNS. We extend our gratitude to the exceptional staff at Wild Renfrew for their flexibility, warm welcome, and dedication, making our Camp David: In the Wild edition a truly memorable shared experience.