As the second semester comes to the end, so does our time with Gaglardi Academy's Outdoor Education class. As with any class, a final exam is required to test the student’s comprehension of the material. This final exam would require the practical testing of skills taught during the last four months of the classroom. A normal final exam would not suffice, of course, we would need to hold an outdoor education exam in the backcountry of Strathcona Provincial Park.

We began a week prior to departure with menu planning, personal gear requirements and group gear distribution. The class was split into an Alpine Team and a Basecamp Team and went to work creating what food they would be eating for the three days. Tents groups were created, team gear tested, double checked and divided up, and contents of individual packs inspected.

Day 1: an early departure was set to facilitate cooler temperatures for travel. We encountered more snow on the trail than was to be expected for the time of year but it didn’t ruin our resolve. The class made great time grinding out the elevation gain and navigated nearly six km to Croteau Group Campsite. On arrival, the students went to work building their house and kitchen. A late-night game of man tracker kept the adults on their toes and calling for quiet hours a tad bit early.

Day 2 was a big summit push for the grade 11 class, Mr. Tansky, and Mr. McKague. The crew was off early and summited Mt Albert Edward before 11:30 am. Conditions prevented them from continuing on with a longer objective and they were back in basecamp by midafternoon. Those of us left back at basecamp enjoyed a pancake breakfast and some local exploration before spending the afternoon swimming and a short scavenger hunt. Dinner that night was an amazing feast of the best bean burritos any of the kids had ever tasted. Grade 9s, look out! You have a huge treat waiting for you next year!

Day 3 was a slow start for all participants. Equipment was slowly packed, tents were torn down, light breakfast served and general camp cleanup conducted. Hopes of some solo time to reflect and pray were dashed due to the slow pace. Luckily, the crew managed to work together in their tent groups and make it to the trailhead for 11:00 am. The hike out was easier than most had expected and the entire class made it to the parking lot in 1.5 hrs. Waiting for us were coolers full of fruit, sandwiches, treats, and drinks. A quiet drive down the mountain ended at 3:00 pm with all disappearing to enjoyed a shower and home-cooked meal.

Overall, the class did an amazing job. Everyone had the chance to learn something new and will likely change how they will plan their next camping adventure.

To all the students and staff involved, thank you!

Mr. Mackenzie

P.S. No more beans