Explore, Collingwood School's outdoor education program, facilitates a seasonal variety of outdoor experiences and skill progression for students in the Middle School program and beyond.

The program promotes self-discovery, interactive social skills, as well as a more holistic understanding of the natural world through experiential, adventure, and environmental education.

Grade 8 and 9 students experience a progression of four Explore trips with a focus on the development of important life skills: self-esteem, responsibility, resourcefulness, teamwork and communication. Senior School students have the opportunity to advance their leadership skills through specialized courses.

While the outdoor activities are designed to challenge our students mentally and physically — for many students — the Explore trips are an experience of a lifetime.

Grade 8

Fall Backpacking

In the fall, Grade 8 students spend a week out of class with the Explore program where they on Monday participate in a local day trip, Tuesday in a planning and preparation day at school and culminate the week with a 3 day/2 night backpacking experience to one of a variety of locations in southwest BC. This is an exciting immersion into wilderness travel and community building. In small groups of up to 13 students travel with their teachers on foot to reach backcountry campsites where they sleep in tents for two nights, cook one-pot meals on their stoves and gather water for cooking and drinking from the river or lake. Each student learns the fundamental of Leave-No-Trace camping along with an introductory lesson on map and compass. In addition, each student will experience a two-hour solo and be guided to reflect on their journey in their Explore journal.

Throughout the program themes such as safety, respect, responsibility, self-reliance, inclusion and connection to the natural world are emphasized. This experience develops the students’ abilities in group and team care, personal leadership and campcraft and cooking skills. In addition, students come home learning many unexpected lessons and developing new friendships with their brand new peers on the Morven campus.

When: September/October

Day Trips: Mount Strachan, Black Mountain, Hollyburn Mountain
Overnight Locations: Manning Park, Stein Valley, Cheakamus Lake

Winter Camping & Cross-Country Skiing

In the winter, Grade 8 students spend a week out of class with the Explore program where they on Monday participate in a daytrip ski lesson up Cypress Mountain, Tuesday in a planning and preparation day at school and the remaining part of the week at beautiful Manning Park for a 3 day/2 night cross-country skiing and winter camping experience. The Winter Grade 8 experience is a wonderful opportunity to build on their skills that they developed from the Grade 8 Fall program. The winter environment provides the unique challenge for all the students to excel and develop new abilities in the outdoors. Each day, the students enjoy the unique terrain of Manning Park and develop stronger cross country ski skills. Spending a night in cabins, the groups practice community living and cooking in a kitchen. Overnight winter camping takes place at Lone Duck group campsite where students cook over their camp stove and sleep in tents. With different nights in cabins and winter camping, it is a nice transition into thriving in a winter environment.

This program has a strong emphasis on self-care and reliance as well as teamwork. Students will focus on maintaining a positive attitude and becoming self-reliant, as well as taking responsibility for their individual role and impact as part of a group. They will receive introductory lessons to assessing risk in the outdoors, how to cross country ski and how to winter camp. Manning Park provides an ideal setting to explore the wonders of winter. This trip is often a favourite for Explore students.

When: February
Where: Manning Park

Grade 9

Winter Skills, Decision Making and Camping

The Grade 9 winter program weeks will commence on Tuesday, with a preparation day in order to prepare students for a successful trip experience. For the remainder of the week, students will enjoy a winter camping experience at the beautiful Whistler Olympic Park in Callaghan Valley. Students will practice navigating on snowshoes as well as have the opportunity to learn the new skill of skate skiing. On this Explore trip, students will learn safe decision making, prudent backcountry travel techniques and leadership through winter travel and camping.

They will also develop skills on how to build winter kitchens, practice using an avalanche beacon, identifying possible winter hazards and learning some of the basics of snow science. This will all be done in low risk, non-avalanche terrain. Students will also be teaching each other many of these skills through student-led lessons. This expedition is a wonderful opportunity for the students to gain awareness of their environment, demonstrate responsibility and leadership, and individual reliance as well as team work.

When: December/January
Where: Whistler Olympic Park

Spring Sea Kayaking or Hiking

This is the culminating Explore experience for Collingwood’s Middle School.After two years of outdoor experiences focusing on personal development and leadership, students are well suited to take on the unique challenges of this final program. With more leadership opportunities and independence, students challenge themselves to lead their peers and take on new activities. For this trip, students will be choosing between a sea kayaking or hiking expedition. On Monday of their trip week, students will participate in a planning and preparation day, and the remainder of the week will be spent hiking on the Juan de Fuca or Sea Kayaking in the Gulf Islands. Students will be sign up for their preferred program option on a first come first serve basis after submitting all their forms.

Juan de Fuca Trail Hiking Experience

Students will go on a four day, three night backpacking trip on the Juan de Fuca Trail which is located on the Southwest coast of Vancouver Island. Students will be travelling via the Tsawwassen ferry to Swartz Bay and then drive to the trailhead. They will be hiking an approximate distance of 13 km throughout the trip. The splendor of hiking along the west coast of Vancouver Island with the wide Pacific Ocean to one side, travelling through the rainforest over headlands and crossing beaches, is both physically challenging and visually exhilarating. It is not uncommon to have sightings of eagles, seals, sea lions and, if lucky we may see a sea otter, whales, or a black bear. Night times may be spent by a campfire, listening to the crashing waves.

Gulf Island Sea Kayaking Experience

Students will go on a four day, three night kayaking trip throughout the Gulf Islands. For safety precautions, students will be assigned a wetsuit to wear while kayaking, keeping them warmer in case of rain or a wet exit from their kayak. For this expedition, we have worked with Gabriola Sea Kayaking since 2004 to rent boats and hire guides.Students will learn new skills and gain knowledge about safer ocean travel while navigating currents, tides, waves and various wind conditions. After learning about the kayaks, packing gear in water tight hatches, and learning how to paddle and steer, students embark on their adventure. The magnificent cliffs of Valdes Island and the shocking history of DeCourcey Island tantalize a thirst for knowledge and inevitably leave a personal impact.

Students on either expedition will be coached and prepared to guide their fellow classmates from dawn ‘til dusk. Their many learned skills reveal themselves through fine demonstrations of teamwork, cooperation and respect. Their campcraft knowledge which has been honed on all previous Explore trips is tested as they work together to: set up and take down camp, cook fabulous nutritious meals, collect and purify water, lead various lessons, and participate in group activities. Students punctuate the end of their trips with a 5-6 hour solo experience. The power of such a traditional ‘rite of passage’ or ‘vision quest’ connects students with a history of youth that has spanned many generations of Canadian First Nations as well as numerous cultures around the world. This quite often is a highlight of the trip, which enables students to reflect both personally and on their Explore experience through journaling & shelter building. At the culmination of each expedition, the students leave with a renewed appreciation for their acquired skills and the wonder of the natural world.

Upon completion of their final expedition students will receive their silver pin. From here they start to ‘explore’ the world on their own terms such as joining a Senior School Explore Expedition, an outdoor education organization, or with family and friends. Explore would love to support them in these activities so that they may receive their gold pin.Happy Exploring!

When: Aprill May


Sea Kayakers: Gulf Islands, Gabriola, DeCourcey & Valdes Island

Hikers: Southwest Vancouver Island, Juan de Fuca Trail

Cook Book

Explore Meal Options

Leadership 11

Explore in the Senior School

Leadership 11

Leadership 11 is an exciting course for credit that is designed for students who wish to develop their leadership skills, abilities to motivate others, attain self-awareness in their interactions with others, and ultimately improve their self-confidence in leadership situations. It is designed for Grade 10 or 11 students who are independent and self-motivated learners. This course is scheduled out of the timetable and students have one year to complete it. The course has four elements: Leadership Seminars, a Senior School Explore Expedition, Choose Your Own Leadership, and creating a Leadership Weebly Portfolio that highlights the students' reflections from these experiences.

Leadership Seminars

Throughout the year, there will be 7-9 seminars which will occur approximately once a month after school from 3:20-5pm with the exception of the first seminar which will be an overnight retreat early September. These seminars are mandatory and students will find them dynamic and interactive. Some of the themes will be: definitions of Leadership, Personal Leadership, Leadership qualities, Leading Others and Team Building, Situational Leadership, Community-Ship, Leadership Decision Making, Stages of Group Development, Tips and Tools of Leadership, and a Leadership Debate.

Senior School Explore Expedition

Students must complete a Senior School Explore Expedition as a culminating activity to complete the course. A non-refundable deposit for their expedition is due upon acceptance into the course. These trips create a chance for students to take what they’ve learned in theory and apply it in a real, safe and practical scenario. The options vary from year to year and past expeditions have included Tall Ships, Sayward Lake Chain Canoe trip, Sea Kayaking in Nootka Sound, and a Tofino Surf and Service trip on the West Coast. There are two trips offered for students to sign up for including a Gulf Islands Tall Ships expedition in October and a Sayward Lake Canoe expedition in May. These 5-6 day trips will focus on peer leadership, ocean navigation skills, as well as build upon the self-reliance in the outdoors that students focused on in Explore. These expeditions will indeed provide a unique and fond memory of school life for those students who step aboard this rare adventure.

Choose Your Own Adventure – Leadership Experience

This aspect of the course aims to put leadership skills, knowledge and abilities into practice. There are many possibilities for leadership experience both within the Collingwood community and beyond. These may be service or other leadership roles that students are already interested in and committed to, such as camp counseling, coaching, peer tutoring, Belize service project, etc. A minimum of 25 hours of leadership experience must be completed. This experience will be documented and reflected upon in their leadership portfolio. This is a great way to get course credit for leadership service endeavours that students are already committed to.

Leadership Weebly Portfolio

Through pictures, thoughts & creative reflections students will tell the story of their leadership experiences on a leadership portfolio. This will be a creative outlet for reflecting upon leadership experiences and showcasing skills, abilities and knowledge. Each Seminar assignment as well as goals and reflections prior to and following-up key leadership experiences are posted on the students’ individual Weebly.

Registration and Application

In order to fully enroll in this course, students must register with their other courses thru PCR AND complete the Leadership 11 Application, and then submit it to explore@collingwood.org. Registration and application does not guarantee placement in the course. Candidates will be selected based upon their application, previous Explore performance, and in consultation with housemasters and Head of School to ensure that students can handle the extra course load.

Prerequisite: Students must apply by completing an application. Successful participation in Explore 9 is strongly recommended.

Leadership Application

Course Syllabus
Smart Goals
Wow Reflections

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