Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Grade 8 Retreat

J.N. Burnett's Grade 8 class just returned from three days at Cultus Lake's Camp Stillwood, on a retreat designed to bring the grad class of 2016 together.  The weather cooperated and students had a memorable time, bonding with one another, working with the fantastic Leadership 11 and 12 students who were guided by Ms. Cain, and making memories that will last the duration of their time in high school and beyond.

Here as guest bloggers, writing about the experience is  one of the Leadership students who played such a huge role in making the camp happen (Jeevan Sandhu), as well as a series of Grade 8's who wrote about their experiences at camp.

After months of hard work and preparation from both staff and students, the annual grade 8 retreat has come and gone. Ms. Cain, Ms. Meralli, and Mr. Blair worked alongside the leadership classes to ensure the trip was perfectly planned and executed. What seems like a short three day vacation for most onlookers is actually lots of work considering the fact all information has to be gathered, organized, and then used to make activities for the grade 8’s to enjoy. 

Nonetheless, the day arrived and by 7 am the gym was full with nervy yet excited grade 8‘s. This would be the first trip away from parents for a lot of the grade 8’s so lots of tension was expected. The teams were organized with there group leaders ready to get going onto the cozy charter buses. Once Mr. Blair gave the green light everyone including the half asleep teachers boarded the buses to start a long and eventful day.

The bus ride was about 2 hours long but in no time at all we were pulling into the gates of Camp Stillwood. After everyone got out and gathered their belongings we had a first meeting in the main room. By now all teams had received their colourful t-shirts and we had just met the camp supervisors. Mr. Blair had a few words to say about expectations and within minutes everyone had been to their rooms and grade 8 students were all over the place enjoying the campground facilities. 

The first official event of the day was lunch. This was the first of many delicous meals we were provided with by the kitchen staff at Camp Stillwood. The meals were unique because it forced students to go and sit with lots of people they have never met before. This provided a great bonding time for leaders, teachers, and especially the grade 8’s.

The first activity that we had planned for the students was a campground wide scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt had leaders taking their individual groups around to each station. At each station was located a teacher who provided the group with a task to do. If the task was completed successfully the group would receive the next clue. In the end not all teams finished the race but the message of the scavenger hunt ‘Don’t stop believing" was evident.

The first night was finished off with mini games in the big dome and a movie in the maple lodge. The games in the dome were enjoyed by all participants and suprisingly energy levels were excellent up until bedtime. After two hours of either watching The Blindside or running around in the dome, the students were treated to chocolate chip cookies with sugar loaded hot chocolate as their late night snack. As guessed many students were anything but sleepy after that snack. Nonetheless everyone was put to sleep.

The second day was just as jam packed as the first. Activities were planned all day requiring students to sing, dance, draw, paint, run, play, and watch. The four stations were: drama games with Tombert, Mr. Leslie and Mrs. Macdonald in the ampitheatre, sports challenges with Mr. Gomes, Mr. Ghuag, and Mr. Blair in the fields, watching Glee with Ms. Davis, Ms Meralli, and Ms. White in the maple lodge, and lastly making photo frames with Ms. Takada, Ms. Schneebelli, and Mr. Almas in the arts and crafts room. These activities took up all the way until after dinner.

The last event of the day was the charades marathon in the dome. At first their were games including the 13 grade 8 teams and the one dreaded teacher team. The teachers were reigning champions for the past 3 years. After 5 rounds of that it was the teacher team that came out victorious. However the teachers were challenged to a rapid fire round by the leadership group. It was a hotly contested game but in the end the  more equipped and superior team came out on top. The leadership students were now champions after a close 5-4 victory. After all the tears were shed and jokes were made, it was time to sleep.

The night was short but not boring, to say the least. Mr. Ghaug, Mr. Gomes, Mr. Blair, and Tombert tried there best to scare the downstairs boys cabin, however to much shock not a single soul was awoken by these attempts.

Morning came fast and the day was going to be much shorter than the last two. After breakfast, cleanup was done in all rooms. After cleaning up the grade 8s were given their last bit of free time at the campsite. It was time for them to meet at the maple  lodge in no time. The maple lodge is where we sat and watched the amazing video that Mrs. Johal spent hours to make. The video was followed by Mr. Ghaug saying a couple words on the past three days.

Upon leaving the maple lodge we took our great big group picture. The picture was taken in order from colour to colour in our groups. After the big picture we headed into the cafeteria for our last meal as a big group. We left the cafeteria saying out thank-you’s and good-bye’s and headed towards our buses. 

Whether it was beating teachers in charades, getting pranked by Mr. Gomes and Mr. Ghaug, or just enjoying the meals with the group, I know the leadership group cherished every moment of the trip and I am confident that all teachers and grade 8’s would agree with this statement. 

Special thanks to Mrs. Johal for putting together the amazing video above.....

It was the people made Grade 8 retreat so epic, awesome, exhilarating and amazing.  The people that I got to know, the people who inspired, the people who I ate with, and even the people I annoyed when I was rustling at night.  I couldn’t forget the leaders.  The leaders who pointed us to the right destination when we were lost, who offered a helping hand, who forced us to go to sleep and who beat the teachers at Charades.
 -Hui Zhang  
After and during the grade 8 retreat, the grade 8’s were more comfortable and united with each other than before.
 - Ann Gee 
Camp definitely affected my grade 8 year.  At camp we made memories that will last a lifetime.  I wish we never had to leave the retreat, I really miss being there.  Waking up every morning surrounded by friends, staying up late talking, playing games around a campfire and especially getting to spend time with and getting to know our classmates was just amazing.  The camp leaders really made it all the more fun, and when I’m in grade 12 I hope to get the opportunity to come back to camp and do what they did for us.
 - Joceline Savoie
The grade 8 retreat was amazing, fun and changed my life.  It was the experience of a lifetime.  At first I was scared of being in high school with all the big kids and changing classes, but the grade 8 retreat has changed my mind.  I made tons of new friends, and I learned that grade 12’s are not as scary as they seem.  The retreat taught me to believe in myself and never give up.  I think this lesson will be very useful and important in my high school life.  The leadership students were great, amazing, awesome, indescribable! They helped me and taught me life lessons through the retreat  that is why in the future, I want to be a leadership student.  I want to do what they did for me, to the future grade 8’s.
 -Elaine Leung 
After the retreat, high school doesn’t seem such a bad and scary place as it did before.  I really hope that the next year’s grade 8’s will go on the retreat because it is a thing to help us get used to high school.
-Mizu Lee 
The grade 8 retreat was a great experience for me to have fun with my peers and meet new friends.  Besides having fun, it was also a time to show some leadership and responsibility.  This camp experience has affected me greatly because I learned how to take care of myself, be independent, and putting aside my own shyness and say hi to people I don’t know yet.
 -Michelle Chan 

Congratulations and thank-you's to all the people who worked so hard to make the camp a success. It surely was!!!

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