Leading Students Outdoors

During next weekend’s mid-term break, students in the Outdoor Leadership programme will embark on a trip to Manning Park, where they will endure tough conditions in order to gain winter camp experience, a course requirement for this intensive program.

Students enrolled in the Outdoor Leadership program have been training for this weekend excursion for more than a year. A two-year program, Outdoor Leadership starts in Grade 11 and students complete the course in their Grade 12 year. The program requires students to attend a three-hour evening session once a week, obtain wilderness first-aid certification, perform environmental service work over the summer and participate in two weekend-long trips. To complete the course, students act as group leaders for the Grades 9 and 10 outdoor trips.

“The programme is physically intense,” says Outdoor Education Director Pete McLeod. “Students have to be in good shape and work extremely hard.”

To participate in Outdoor Leadership, students must go through an application process that includes a test trip where their skills are evaluated. More than 75 students applied this fall but only 40 were admitted to the program.

Next Saturday, the students will travel to Hope, BC to take part in two days of extreme outdoor-survival training. On day one of the trip, the students will ski in back-country terrain. They will learn how to navigate as well as how to travel safely in these conditions. The group will spend a night in the park’s lodge before putting their skills to the test the next morning by cross-country skiing seven kilometres to a base camp, where they will spend the night outside. After a night in tents or snow caves, the students will get up at sunrise to ski back to meet the bus.

Some students use the skills they acquire from the Outdoor Leadership programme to pursue the Duke of Edinburgh Award. The award is an international youth programme that has involved more than 2.5 million participants from 60 countries. Participants earn credits toward the award by completing requirements in service, skills, expeditions and fitness.

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