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Coureurs de Bois program at Westmount Community School

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Coureurs de Bois program at Westmount Community School

Thank you for your donation to the Coureurs de Bois program at Westmount Community School. Although, due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to make some sudden adjustments to our original plan, we were still able to give students an unforgettable camp experience full of learning.

Students began their camp learning through lessons and practical applications of Leave no Trace Camping, from there we focused on getting the students canoe ready. Students attended Harry Bailey Pool in Saskatoon and worked on paddling skills, t-rescues, survival skills, and they even got to spend some time practicing paddling a kayak. Students then took this knowledge and applied it to our day canoe trip to Erindale pond in Saskatoon. The level of teamwork and cooperation that students experienced was invaluable. Many students got to experience canoeing and have a feeling of accomplishment, they normally wouldn’t get to experience.

We then started our big planning for our two camping trips. Students were asked to create a menu plan that they could implement while at camp. For many it was a great learning experience. Students pushed themselves to create and cook things while at camp with little to know garbage. In small groups, students went on a hike and discussed different plants as well as the importance of protecting nature. Students also went canoeing on Pike Lake, this is the experience I will remember most. Many of the students were in shock and awe at nature, the sounds, the smells, and the wildlife that we saw. Students commented throughout the trip about the beauty of nature.

For our final 4 day, 3 night camp, we went to Blue Mountain. Students were asked once again to plan ahead thinking and reflecting on the Pike Lake camp what they would change. Students created and implemented a menu plan in groups. Students were given a Canadian Food Guide and asked to make sure they had items from each food group. While at camp, students went on a number of hikes, each time looking at different things, plants, animals, survival skills, leave no trace, and orienteering. Our first hike, was to watch the sunset during “solo time” (an opportunity to reflect by yourself), for many of my students, this was their favorite memory of the year. Students also learned about the components of heat and starting a fire, and how this connects to Leave no Trace camping. Throughout the camp the students demonstrated an increased passion for nature, curiosity for answers, and a desire to protect it.

These camps had a profound effect on the students, we saw students who normally shy away from learning or social situations, engage, and in some cases, lead the learning that was happening. Students showed an increased curiosity in nature and a desire to learn more. Many students spoke about wanting to come back with their families. We felt that these camps were the highlight of the year for many of our students. Our dream is to expand this program next year into “Voyagers,” a grade 6 to 8 extracurricular group that will learn about and experience the outdoors in different ways twice a month. We are still in the planning stages but after seeing the success of the camps this year, we know that it will be a success!

Thank you again for your support!

One of my grade 6/7 students said it best after they found out that we had received your grant, “it’s like they care about our learning, even though they don’t know us. That makes me feel so special.”

By: Megan Weisbrod