Seven Summits students started the school year with an adventurous journey to Whatshan Lake. Photo: Jennifer Boutilier

Seven Summits students started the school year with an adventurous journey to Whatshan Lake. Photo: Jennifer Boutilier

Successful year of academia starts with camping

Seven Summits students enjoyed an adventurous start to the school year with a visit to Whatshan Lake

by Tara Hauck

Imagine starting the 2021-2022 school year with an experience in the great outdoors.

Following a tradition since 2016, the students of Seven Summits Centre for Learning began the school year with a retreat that promoted adventure and eliminated the electronics, hectic schedules, and conventional outlooks one typically associates with the first week of school.

The Centre staff designed the camping trip to build inclusion, self-confidence, and self-efficacy.

By removing the usual academic, athletic, and social competition that shapes a teen’s life, the staff facilitated individual and group activities to promote success and friendships for the rest of the year.

With its non-competitive and diverse opportunities, camp-life is a real boost for young people.

“It is super awesome to get to know the students in an outside arena, as it gives them a real opportunity to show their potential and shine,” says Jonny Coleshill, the Humanities and English teacher. “It is also a great opportunity for staff collegiality.”

The focus is to have fun while learning teamwork, leadership skills, communication, and creativity. “Every year we have an art project that is a self-reflection piece, but my favorite are the rotation challenges,” says Jenn Boutilier, the Math and Science teacher.

“This fosters leadership and communication skills as students move through four rotations, culminating in a whole school challenge. The supposition of the activity is that no one knows what to expect or how to complete the challenge, but through raw natural abilities, collaboration, leadership, patience, and respecting other’s ideas they create a successful outcome,” says Mrs. Boutilier.

“It’s a great way to break down the boundaries between grades and get everyone working with one another.”

Students take purposeful skills back to class to become more intentional members of a learning community.

“Overall, it was wonderful to camp with the students and foster a greater understanding of who they are by seeing them outside the school environment and interacting with each other surrounded by nature,” says Shannon Doleman, Seven Summits Operation Support.

Whatshan Lake Retreat is surrounded by the Monashee Mountains steps away from Whatshan Lake. They offer full facilities with hot showers, clean campsites, and a full kitchen facility.

For more info go to www.whatshan.com.

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