Last Friday, our group of 24 Middle School students (grades 7-8) embarked on an outdoor ed trip to Mount Orford. Ms. Saunders, our trip leader, had been preparing our group of “adventurers” since the beginning of the year, through a variety of in-school training sessions that taught us the basics of survival in the outdoors. For example, we learned how to set up a tent, operate a camp stove, and administer basic first aid (fortunately, there was no need!). Our group was well prepared for a great trek and camping experience.
When we boarded the bus on Friday for our 1.5-hour drive, we were all bustling with energy, until something horrible happened: THE TEACHERS TOOK OUR PHONES AWAY. WE WERE FORCED TO TALK. Although this was horrifying, it wasn’t long before we started conservations with other kids on the bus. In fact, the teachers taking our phones away allowed us to bond, which I realized was one of the major benefits of taking the trip.
Upon arrival at the base of the mountain, we immediately got our bags, ate a small energy bar, applied bug spray and sunscreen, and then we got moving. We hiked by some fast water and saw picturesque views of the lake. After about two hours of hiking and talking (which seemed to be getting easier), we reached our campsite.
Our campsite was in a nice, secluded location, away from everything and surrounded by trees. We were fortunate to have the luxury of wooden platforms on which we could pitch our tents. Our tents went up in less than an hour and then we started preparing our dinner. Of course, we could not help but realize how difficult this all would have been without Ms. Saunders’ guidance, preparation sessions, and her humour (mainly because we were all scared of burning ourselves using the stove!)
We woke up the next morning at 6:30 am to prepare our breakfasts, followed by a seven-hour hike. Although it was challenging, we felt satisfaction as we climbed over smooth rocks to see incredible views of the scenery around us. We had climbed so high that it was possible to see over other surrounding mountains! For as warm as we were during the hike, we quickly realized how freezing we were once we stopped at the summit. So … we quickly put on extra layers. (Thanks, Ms. Saunders, for teaching us to pack properly!)
We finally went back to our campsite and enjoyed the rest of our afternoon. We ate marshmallows roasted over a fire pit, and some chocolate as well. Our group continued talking, realizing that talking was not painful anymore, as we had all become very close friends.
We left the next morning feeling sad that it had all come to an end (and, personally, feeling really tired, mainly because I realized that I’m not in as good shape as I had thought!). All in all, I believe this was one of the best experiences that I have had at school this year, and I will certainly not forget it. I benefited so much from this trip: I bonded with many students that I don’t usually spend much time with, and I challenged myself to do something new.
On behalf of the “Survive or Die” crew, I would like to thank Ms. Saunders for making this trip possible. I would also like to thank our other supervisors, Mr. Murphy and M. Maurice.
We will most certainly be doing this again next year! – Andrew Vandenbussche ’19