Overnight Outdoor Education Trips returned to GNS with a bang! For the first time in over 18 months, the OED program was able to take an enthusiastic team of students on a two-day hike through Strathcona Park, just outside of Courtenay.
Mr. Clayton Webb, Director of Outdoor Education, organized and led the expedition for Grade 9 students from September 29 to October 1. Due to extreme demand, the trip expanded from its original size to include all 15 of the eager Grade 9s.
“The group hiked into Croteau Lake group site. We had the whole site to ourselves, and we had access to a yurt, but we were still sleeping in tents, said Mr. Webb. “A highlight was the day trip out to Cruikshank Canyon.”
That trip to the Cruikshank Canyon lookout included an eight kilometre roundtrip from the campsite, but provided stunning views to the group.
Language and Literature Teacher Mr. John Smith acted as a guide on the excursion, and he was impressed at how prepared the students were.
“Together they carried all of the equipment they needed, which included food, water, gas stoves and supplies,” he said. “They were also responsible for campsite etiquette, like keeping things organized, cleaning up after themselves, and being prepared for each stage of the journey.”
There was a range of camping experience amongst the students. Some had previously been on overnight hiking trips, while others had not.
“Before this trip, I had never done overnight backpacking, but I had done overnight camping,” said Gavin Wright ’25. “Overnight backpacking is a completely different experience because there’s an amazing sense of accomplishment knowing that all of the things brought up were carried by us.”
“I did a camping trip for a week this summer with my family, so this was similar,” remarked Katelyn McDewar ’25, “My favourite part of this trip was bonding. Before the trip, I didn’t know everyone that well, but by the end of the trip, we were all hanging out together.”
The trip wasn’t without its challenges, as the rain on the first day ended up being much heavier than expected, but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.
“It was great to see everyone bond and come together in the face of challenges, like putting up tents in the pouring rain,” said Mr. Smith. “The camaraderie was amazing, everyone was glad they went.”
“We weathered a bit of a storm on Wednesday night, but in the morning, instead of being upset, they [the students] came ready to take on the day and were super excited about the experience,” added Mr. Webb. “The students were always motivated and ready to go.”
We look forward to hearing about many more Outdoor Education Trips this year!