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STOC students camp out at Point Pelee

Back to Nature
Posted on 05/01/2019

About 75 Grade 6 students from St. Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Elementary School spent a few days in the woods last week getting back to nature.

“There were no electronics, no pop and no processed food,” coordinator Mark Wasyluk said of the two-night stay at Point Pelee’s Camp Henry. “It was a great way for the kids to get some social connections back in a healthy, outdoor, non-traditional learning environment.”

Along with 14 Grade 11 leadership students from F.J. Brennan Catholic High School and five staff members, the students traveled out to Canada’s most southern mainland point on April 23. It was part of a pilot project which, if proven successful and if funding allows, may possibly expand and be offered at all of the board’s K-6 elementary schools.

The group stayed in oTENTiks, a cross between a cabin and a tent that sleeps six and is located on an individual camp site. Each unit is heated, has a storage box and table and chairs, and each site has a gas barbecue and a fire pit.

While there, the students participated in a variety of activities including archery, geocaching, cycling, and outdoor living skills. They took a hike to the tip of Point Pelee and held a prayer service on the first night. They shared meals in the camp’s mess hall and all of the food was prepared by the Brennan culinary arts students.

“It was a great way to nurture the connection between elementary and secondary school,” Wasyluk said. “It was a really good practical experience for these students.”

Wasyluk said the camp, which is owned by the YMCA and administered in partnership with Parks Canada, provided a perfect environment for the fundamental lessons he hoped the students would learn.

“It’s a jewel,” he said. “They’ve rebuilt the entire camp. It’s a great site for an academic, athletic, leadership and social experience.”

Besides an emphasis on environmental stewardship, social skills and community building, the experience was built on the four core values of respect, responsibility, honesty and caring, Wasyluk said.

“These are the values that are aligned with the YMCA, so we took them on as the core ones we were trying to emphasize throughout the camp,” he said. “The students just had an amazing time and they all raved about it afterwards.”

Students paid $75 each for the trip, but it was also partially funded through an outdoor education grant, and donations from the Goodfellows and the Ontario Student Nutrition Program.  Wasyluk said he’s hopeful that the program can be expanded in the fall.

“If you go in October, you can build upon all of the things that you learned throughout the rest of the school year,” he said.

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