Fostering Positive Student Relationships through Outdoor Education Trips
We sat down recently with Andrea Lossing, Trip and Camp Curriculum Coordinator for The York School, and discussed why our fall outdoor education trips are an integral part of the start of our school year for our Grades 6 to 9 students.
Q. As a new school year begins, it may feel counterintuitive to some to send students off to camp. Why do we do it?
We can all remember back to a first day at the start of a new school year. So many new things coming at us all at once: the change in routine, new classmates, different teachers, new classrooms or even a new school. These new experiences can be both exciting and challenging. This is true for not only for students, but for teachers too!
The outdoor education trips throughout September are all about building familiarity with classmates and fostering community. It’s about working together and helping each other, being open minded to new ways of doing things, and creating shared memories together. These are the skills students will use to excel and navigate through the many challenges (and triumphs!) throughout their year of learning at The York School.
Q. How do we provide the opportunity for these teamwork moments?
The activities offered at camp allow students to both challenge themselves and support each other in real ways as they do. From helping fellow classmates at high ropes by belaying them as they climb, to working with peers to build a strong shelter in the forest, to paddling together in a canoe, to cooking a meal over a campfire, they are persevering together and realizing that is truly the only way forward. Our school motto is ‘experience teaches’ and it is never more true than in these real moments. We realize that we need to rely on others, and in turn support others, in order to thrive together.
Q. How are these skills transferable to the student experience at school?
At York we pride ourselves on being a strong community that cares for one another. At camp we foster that community. Staying in a cabin together, sharing family-style meals, and singing around a campfire connects the students with their peers on a deeper level. They have new and strengthened relationships not only with their classmates but their teachers and mentor students as well. So when they return to the hallways of The York School, it’s not merely a face passing them on the way to class, but a friend with whom they share a memory. They built a shelter as a team or helped each other navigate the low ropes course. They got through it together!
When the students return from camp, most often they are empowered and exuberant. we hope that they come back to The York School with higher confidence in their own abilities and renewed certainty of being part of a community. This increased confidence helps students believe in their own ability to meet and overcome new challenges. The sense of connection allows them to recognize the support system that they have around them in their classroom and in the halls of The York School.
Canada's first co-educational independent IB World School The York School is a co-educational JK to Grade 12 independent school located in the heart of Toronto. The York School was founded in 1965 and is the first school in Canada accredited to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) from junior kindergarten (JK) to university entrance. As an IB World School, The York School's motto is Experientia Docet or Experience Teaches.