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Outdoor Ed Club to become a course in 2018

By Monique Massiah, Strathmore Standard

This fall there will be a new outdoor education program offered at Strathmore High School. Outdoor education programs offer young people the ability to practice hands on skills in an outdoor environment, but also helps students practise survival and leadership skills.

 

The program will be offered from September to November and from mid-April to June and will be administered by teacher Stephanie Aitken, who currently runs the Strathmore High School outdoor ed club.

The Outdoor Education program will be a three-credit course offered by the high school.

“This year we have been running it as a non-credit club where students can sign up for the trips that we do. Next year it's going to be offered as a course,” explained Aitken.

She noted that the new program will focus on six core objectives.

The first is outdoor knowledge, followed by physical challenges, experiencing nature, personal reflection, leadership and stewardship.

One of the long-term goals is for students to be able to work with community partners and organizations and practice stewardship.

“I want to do community service and a part of that is stewardship. I want to brain storm who could I partner with that would have a similar vision and integrate the youth into some of these programs,” said Aitken.

In addition, Aitken hopes to work with Crowther Memorial Junior High School teacher Scott Sackett, to develop the outdoor education program.

“Scott Sackett has been running the junior high program. We have a similar vision. I want to take those students that he has built up and continue their outdoor ed experience at the high school level,” she said.

One of the goals of the program is to build up students' knowledge of the outdoors so that one day they will be able to complete an overnight outdoor excursion.

“That is one of the big pillars for my program. We do backpacking and they will do a two-night three- day backpacking trip in the mountains,” she said.

While on the trip students apply concepts that they have learned throughout the course, in real life, like where to find fresh water and how to cook food.

“They don't just apply it on that trip, we will do things outside on a regular basis,” said Aitken. “I want to focus a lot on critical thinking and making informed choices,” she said.

For example, students are given a budget that they can use to plan for purchasing a tent, sleeping bag and air mattress.

“They have to make an informed choice and they have to think critically about how warm is it, how suitable it will be, what's it's weight, and how expensive is that,” she said.

“They will have to take that information, critically think about it, and make an informed choice. I want them to apply that in multiple ways in the course of the trip,” said Aitken.

Students also tackle a number of physical challenges and work as teams in team building challenges.

At present, the club has participated in a number of spring hiking trips and winter cross-country skiing excursions as well, as stayed in a hostel and completed overnight backpacking.

The program will be focused more on education and knowledge building, rather than just fun outings.

“The outing will be an intentional reflection of what they have learned,” said Aitken.

Currently Aitken is searching for individuals who would like to donate outdoor gear to the program, gear like backpacking tents, light weight tents, backpacking stoves, sleeping bags, camping mattresses and backpacks.

Those who wish to donate their time in terms of stewardship and community involvement are welcome as well.

“If anybody has a skill, or a perspective that they want to offer to be a guest speaker to come in, because there are lots of people that work in the outdoors doing and applying thee skills to help students see how this can apply to a real life career or occupation,” she said.

Currently the new course is for a mixed group of students Grade 10 through 12. The course may change in the future depending on enrollment.

Those who are interested in Strathmore High School's new outdoor education program are welcome to contact Aitken at stephanie.aitken@ghsd75.ca

 



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