By Ms. Kathryn Ovenell-Carter, Grade 7 Teacher
Last week, eighteen grade 7 students took in a true West Coast experience on Vancouver Island as part of our grade 7 experiential trips program.
We started out camping on Saysutshun (Newcastle) Island. Perfect weather allowed for lots of outdoor fun, including beach combing, extended games of kickball, and our very own version of the Amazing Race! Camping was a wonderful exercise in fostering student empowerment and independence. This extra freedom and trust was a highlight for many students. As one camper put it: “I liked how much independence we had with cooking and free time, and being able to do our own thing with friends while learning something new.”
Another student noted that “something that challenged me was the cooking aspect of camping. It was challenging because I don't usually cook, but it also surprised me because my group and I created some good meals.” Create good meals they did; teachers were impressed by students' cooking and cleaning skills.
After saying goodbye to Saysutshun, we took to the water once again by kayaking in Maple Bay. For many students, it was their first introduction to paddling and they demonstrated grit and resilience as they learned to control their boats. We were all happy to check in to our Victoria hotel and enjoy warm showers that night!
While in Victoria, we had the chance to enjoy excellent food at local restaurants, visit the Royal BC Museum and do some souvenir shopping.
However, an undisputed universal highlight was our whale-watching tour. We were incredibly lucky—we got to meet J-pod! These 18 orcas put on quite the performance: breaching, tail-slapping, spy-hopping and playing as they prepared to go hunting. J-pod is part of the critically endangered southern resident orca population, and getting to meet them face-to-face certainly reminded all of us about the importance of preserving their, and our, beautiful home.
Even our return home was spectacular, with a scenic float plane flight from Victoria to the Fraser Delta. Reflecting on their experience afterwards, one student wrote: “I loved how everyone sort of bonded on that trip, boys and girls playing and talking with each other, not separating into groups. I can still talk with people about that trip today, and I find that pretty cool.”