A new course is coming to J.L. Crowe Secondary School, as plans to launch the Outdoor Education Academy in the spring of 2012 were finalized recently.
While the school has offered outdoor experience programs in the past that this course is a reflection of, it also features new components like provincial and national certification in activities like first aid, canoeing and rock climbing.
“We have some amazing environment in our general surrounding which is a wonderful resource educationally,” said principal David DeRosa, who’s pretty excited about the new program. “We’re always looking for ways to give kids the opportunity to be in their learning environment in many ways instead of literally showing them pictures of that environment.”
Development of the academy began in the fall and received approval by the school board in May.
The program is structured as a package, meaning students will receive credit for physical education 11, social studies 11 and science 11. To enroll, students must have completed science 10, social studies 10 and have an understanding and appreciation for the physical aspects of the course.
The course, offered to Grade 11 students, was designed to show students that learning doesn’t stop in the classroom, said Colin Adamson, the teacher who was instrumental in designing and proposing the course.
“Often hands-on learning can be some of the best learning. It’s not just going to be an outdoor ed focus, it’s also learning social 11 and getting out in the community — going to talk to people about what they’ve experienced and learned and hearing it right from them.
“It’s a desire to look outside the textbook.”
Adamson, who taught a program similar to this in Victoria, said besides the academic side of the program, which is very hands-on, it creates great relationships between students because they spend so much time together doing different things.
While kinks in scheduling are still being worked out, most of the learning will take place outside of the classroom and in the community, according to Adamson. Day and overnight trips will help prepare the students for the year-end four-day camping trip. Other activities include possible trips to Japanese internment camps, avalanche training, fire suppression and cabin maintenance.
It has the possibility to lead to a career in several areas like eco-tourism, recreation leadership and resort management.
“The West Kootenay is just a wonderful place for us to live and be active recreationally and why not provide students an opportunity to explore their own backyard in a way that maybe they haven’t in the past, or maybe do every day and here’s a way to possibly start moving towards a career in that area,” DeRosa said.
“It’s not for everybody, like hockey academy isn’t for everybody, but for those who are interested it’s an opportunity to personalize their learning for them.”
Seeing his efforts become reality is incredibly exciting, but Adamson acknowledged that without the support of the communities involved none of this would have happened.
“It gets you excited about the future and how the course can grow and make it into a great thing for Crowe and the community.”