In the last few years there has been an encouraging shift towards outdoor education in Chilliwack public schools. Outdoor education classes have existed on and off for many years in SD33, however they have never been as prolific or as well funded as they are today. This is translating into a proliferation of programs that are focusing on taking kids outside, teaching them skills in the outdoors and giving them an exposure to the amazing backcountry that Chilliwack has to offer.
Currently there are four programs that are in full swing, AD Rundle Middle, Vedder Middle, and GWG Middle/Secondary all have outdoor education programs that involve hiking, camping and even rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, and skiing. Sardis Secondary is continuing with an existing ecotourism program and giving it an outdoor education spin. This program is aimed to act as a stepping-stone for students interested in the outdoors to learn how to make a career or business out of their passion.
I believe that this is the future that Chilliwack needs to focus on. These students are learning invaluable things about themselves as they spend nights out in the backcountry with their peers, as well as learning the skills to ply the trails on their own in the future and continue an active lifestyle. People who have experienced life at the sharp end of a rope at Harrison Bluffs, or at the head of a group skiing waist deep Coquihalla powder, or kayaking a slalom line through Tamahi rapids, seem to calibrate life’s priorities a bit differently.
The outdoor programs are also getting involved with the outdoor community to gain work experience and get an idea of what the local issues are in Chilliwack. All four programs are involved with the Reel Rock Film Tour on Thursday Oct 3rd at the GWG theater, which is an adventure film festival that showcases and promotes rock climbing and mountaineering with all proceeds going to local climbing bluffs and trails development. The students will be setting up a bake sale with refreshments to support their programs and raise funds for trips and equipment. (Tickets available at Mt. Waddington’s Outdoors)
All in all the administration and staff from the schools who have pioneered these programs deserve a thank you from the community for having the vision and putting in the work to make outdoor education a priority in our schools.
I go back to the old adage, “You do not love what you do not know, and you will not fight to save what you do not love.”
Check out www.mtwaddingtons.com for our fall Speaker Series Calendar, Our Adventure Film Calendar, and our Courses Calendar.
– Sam Waddington – Owner of Mt. Waddington’s Outdoors: Equipping you for Rock, Water, Snow, Sand, Wind and anything else the Outdoors can throw at you!
Published in The Chilliwack Progress – Alive Outside Column – Oct 3rd, 2013