The Grade 9 Explore program is divided up between two trips starting with the winter trip and ending with a spring trip.

In the winter, students enjoy a winter camping experience at the beautiful Whistler Olympic Park. Students practice navigation, and basic first aid, while snowshoeing and they learn the new skill of skate skiing at an Olympic venue. Throughout the trip safe decision making, prudent backcountry travel techniques including avalanche awareness and leadership though student lessons are cultured.

Spring is the students’ culminating Explore experience for Collingwood’s middle school. With more leadership opportunities and independence, students challenge themselves to not only lead their peers but also try new activities. For this trip, students choose between sea kayaking in and around Gabriola Island or coastal hiking along the Juan de Fuca Trail. Students have more ownership over the trip and practice leadership through student led lessons while also learning how to give and receive feedback.


Grade 9 Explore’s next program takes place over three weeks in December and January:

Group A December 4-7
Group B December 11-14
Group C January 15-18

All students are required to participate in both winter and spring Explore as part of their overall Collingwood academic program. Explore covers significant portions of both Physical Health Education curriculum as well as reflective writing samples for English and the Core Competencies. Collingwood believes wholeheartedly in the value of Explore as a vital part of the overall Grade 9 year therefore participation in Explore 9 is also a requirement for the Collingwood Certificate upon graduation. Only those students who are medically excused and/or have permission from the Head of Morven for rare and extenuating circumstances will be excused from participation. Those students will also be required to complete a make-up assignment for curriculum missed.

Please email if your child has any legitimate scheduling conflicts.

We look forward to seeing you at the parent meeting on Tuesday, November 20 at 6 pm in The Commons. This meeting is extremely important for your child’s success in the program. Please make every effort to attend. You can contact us at or 604‐925‐3331 ext. 1202 or with any questions or concerns.


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


Leadership through Spring Sea Kayaking and 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: April, May


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

Hikers: Southwest Vancouver Island, Juan de Fuca Trail

Cook Book

Explore Meal Options