Monday, October 27, 2014

McNair Mini School-Strathcona 2014

"Pushing the envelope"

Getting ready to go at the ferry terminal
Last weekend, October 17-20th, the McNair Mini-School program took its annual trip to Strathcona Pak Lodge just outside of Campbell River, British Columbia.  The trip, normally run the first week back to school in early September, had to be delayed due to the late start to school.  There was some worry that the trip would not be able to happen at all, but the teacher-sponsors and the coordinators at Strathcona worked very hard to come up with alternative plans, and we were able to take the 143 students and 10 teachers last weekend.  Despite extremely wet weather, the students all had a memorable time, made some great connections with new peers and learned some very valuable lessons about ecological footprints and how to conserve energy and resources.  
Overlooking beautiful Strathcona Lake
Some Sunshine!!!
6 guiding principles at Strathcona:
1.  More with Less-  Minimizing one's impact on the planet by making good choices.
2.  Stewardship-  Caring for one's environment and teaching others to care, too.
3.  Challenge by Choice-  Providing opportunities to take risks in a safe environment.
4.  Living on the Edge-  Being open to new ideas, experiences and differences.
5.  Generosity of Spirit-  Thinking of others with kindness, charity and respect.
6.  Happy Warrior-  Performing tasks with enthusiasm an being a positive contributor.
The low ropes course
Getting some instruction
On the high ropes course
Grade 8's problem solving
Working together
A good time at the barn dance
The entire Mini crew
A highlight of every school year for Mini-school students, this year did not disappoint. Included in the activities were: Team-building games, White-water canoe, Low Ropes, High Ropes, Zip-Lining, Kayaking, Rock-climbing and Survival skills.  The Grade 8's had an overnight out-trip where they paddled a canoe about 4 kilometres to a campsite on the edge of Strathcona Provincial Park and then had to set up their sleeping structure, build a fire, cook and clean up from dinner, then go to sleep.  The rain was heavy (especially underneath a tarp), but the spirit of the campers was not dampened.  The  support of the staff was first-rate, and the food was excellent.  The entire weekend was full of memorable excursions where all students learned about the environment, learned about themselves and each other and "pushed the envelope".  I know I certainly stepped "out of my comfort zone". 
All the teacher supervisors
Ms. Arvanitis climbing the wall...
Mr. Leslie reaching out...
And out of the mouths of many of our students:
"That was the first time I ever steered a canoe and I did not know if it was going to be easy or difficult, so I took a chance and tried it."
"I learned to never be harmful or disrespectful to nature because it is part of the air you breathe and the water you drink."
"What I took from this experience is to never give up in life and always take risks, even if you are scared."
"I appreciate nature and all living things a great deal more and I try not to waste as much as a I used."
"No matter what comes ahead, no matter how hard it may seem, if you push yourself, remain positive and never give up, you can do anything you set your mind to."
Congratulations to all those involved in yet another extremely successful Mini-school Strathcona Retreat!

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