“We got to play survivor games in the woods,” says a group of grade 6 students. “We were wolves, deer, porcupines and bunnies, and then some of us were hunters and some of us were poachers.”
The grade 6 students are speaking about their recent leadership trip that took place at the Mansfield Education Centre, just an hour’s drive north of Toronto.
“We were given a certain number of life cards, and the challenge was to make it back to the camp without running out of them,” says Michael.
Kate laughs at the memory. “It was about making it back to camp alive.”
What looked like a fun game of chase was really an exercise in leadership, collaboration, strategy and ethics.
“One of our goals was to teach the students to work together for a shared purpose, based on themes we
had explored in the classroom,” explains Brett Copeland, Interim Middle School Director. “We looked at the exercise critically from the perspectives of the life of early settlers, ecosystems and our relationship to animals and nature.”
In other activities, the students created maps to navigate their surroundings, built fires for food and heat, and constructed shelters for protection. At the end of a long day, the kids sat around the campfire, sang songs, told stories and according to Kate, ate chips.
While the kids thought the trip was an awesome experience, it’s not lost on them that it was also a trip to instill spirit.
“A lot of us have known each other for a long time,” says Cooper, “but after this trip we weren’t just friends any more. We were family.”