While Aspengrove students were enjoying a sleep-in and many of the teachers were gradually making their way to a day of Professional Development meetings on May 22nd, 33 hardy students from Grade 8 & 9, along with five faculty members, were loading the bus with sleeping bags, backpacks and a variety of outdoor essentials for their annual Outdoor Education week at Strathcona Park Lodge (SPL).

This important component of our Aspengrove curriculum includes cooperative team-building and challenge activities, canoe and kayak paddling skills, along with camping techniques. Several students from each grade took this opportunity to complete either the practice or qualifying journey for their Duke of Ed. Bronze Award. Over the course of four days and three nights, both groups paddled on Upper Campbell and Buttle Lakes. Each group camped at one of the following water-access only sites: False Echo, Rainbow Island or Mount Titus.

The Grade 8 class was divided into three canoeing groups and, along with certified instructors, was supported by Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Mont and Mr. Tietzen. Ms Mikes and Mr. Cicchine along with the SPL instructors enjoyed two and a half days of kayaking and camping with the Grade 9 class. Every student had the opportunity to further develop their paddling and outdoor skills, as well as challenge themselves by reaching beyond their comfort zone. It can easily be said that at some point over the four days, all of our Aspengrove students were ardent risk-takers.

It is always great to hear positive comments about our students and this trip was no exception. The instructors and teachers were pleased with the attitude and effort of all students.We hope that this experience will encourage our students to take further opportunities to enjoy the outdoors over the summer. The Grade 9 class will be heading back to Strathcona during the first week of October, for their hiking adventure.

— Mr. R. Cicchine, Outdoor Education Coordinator