by Meredith Witoski, Grade 12 trip leader
On Wednesday, September 29th at 7:45 am, I boarded a school bus with my Island Sampler Grade 11 outdoor trip group and I had no idea what to expect from the next five days.
I have been fortunate to be able to take part in the Outdoor Leadership program offered at SMUS during the last year. It is through this program that I’ve had amazing experiences such as building a snow kitchen in Manning Park, outback skiing during the May Long Weekend, and getting to better understand and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us in BC. As the final part of this program, the Grade 12 outdoor leaders are assigned to either a Grade 10 or 11 outdoor trip.
My trip was the Grade 11 Island Sampler trip. I loved the outline for this trip because each day was something different. We had a day of wilderness learning, which included a blind walk through the forest in our bare feet, and a berry walk where we learnt about the different gifts of the natural vegetation on Vancouver Island. Another day was our sea-kayaking day; unfortunately due to the weather we weren’t able to kayak. However, we took water taxis over Meares Island, which is an island in Clayoquot Sound near Tofino, BC. On Meares Island, we went on a nature walk and had a great lunch. On the second last day, we went surfing on North Chesterman Beach, with Pacific Surf School. Everyone was super excited for this day! They all got into their wet suits and marched down the beach.
by Rio Hong, Grade 11 boarder
As the days came closer and closer, I only got more excited and nervous about my trip. Although SMUS gives outdoor trip opportunities for all grades, I decided to choose something new and very interesting. When I first got the list, all the different trips felt quite appealing, yet the scuba-diving trip stood out the most. I have never attempted such experiences in the past, only heard from others who have done it and found it fascinating. My chance finally arrived; when I read the trip details, I only fell more and more deeply attracted to diving. Still, this was only a portion of the joy and entertainment I received through the whole challenge.
For the first two days, our group went through the introductory lessons of scuba diving. With us were two local professional divers. They were not only well-prepared for all the different uncertainties that could have taken place, but also very friendly and willing to be with us. The other three days of the trip were spent at a nearby ocean. To be honest, we did see lots of amazing sea creatures and other random things in spite of the relatively cold, Canadian water! As we completed more and more ocean dives throughout, the group, full of new divers, felt more comfortable in the ocean and no longer required much aid from the professionals.
In the end, we completed four ocean dives in total and received a PADI Scuba Diver Certification. After coming back, I now see this opportunity in many different perspectives: a brand-new, brilliant adventure, a fun and easy way to meet friends, a great start of the school year, and perhaps an opening to my future, life-long hobby! I am definitely grateful that SMUS offers its student such activities. It is literally a perfect blend of educational journey and some fresh air.