As I've blogged about before, September is a month of new adventures for me! I've decided to take a 4 week break from working with Connected in Motion and take on a new position with ALIVE Outdoors. My work with ALIVE sees me traveling throughout Ontario teaching various outdoor education programs to children who are fortunate enough to be spending one of their first weeks back at school in a beautiful outdoor classroom.
Last week, I traveled to Camp Arowhon in Algonquin Provincial Park to program for a truly amazing group of grade 9 boys from Royal St George College (Toronto, Ontario). Not only did these boys get to experience the wonders of Algonquin Provincial Park in the fall, but they got to do so during their very first days at the senior school at RSGC. Do you remember your first week of grade nine? Or even your very first day? Your first bus ride? Imagine if, instead of climbing on the school bus on day one of grade nine and heading to the school for the first (if I remember right, very awkward) first week of high school, your bus pushed on outside the smoggy confines of the city and ventured north into Algonquin Park? If instead of shuffling through the first few days, classroom to classroom, teacher to teacher, your days were spent focused on building the relationships and community that would be surrounding you for the next four years through experiential learning?
For four days, the 80 or so grade nine boys from RSGC along with their enthusiastic student leaders (grade 10 and 11 RSGC boys who had previously taken a leadership training course with ALIVE and who accompanied the grade nines to help ease their transition into senior school, help them to make new friends, and show them what it meant to be an RSGC Georgian) and a few of their fantastic teachers took on the 7am polar bear dip into Teepee Lake (kudos to the boys, leaders, teachers and instructors who took the plunge every morning!), the dining hall name challenge (involving learning and naming every single person--that's close to 100--in the dining hall during dinner) and eased their way into RSGC life, building the community that would support them for years to come. Together, we paddled canoes, scaled the climbing wall and zipped the zip line. We learned about each other and, perhaps even more importantly, about ourselves.
As the ALIVE Instructors helped to load the buses on Friday afternoon, it was so hard to believe that a large number of these students were strangers a mere four days previously. The power behind an outdoor experiential learning opportunity such as they had had this past week is unparalleled. I am so excited for the weeks to come!
(More stories, including some of my favourite campfire moments, to come soon!)