Outdoors club enjoys Killarney

The club’s trips give students the chance to “slow down, get away from screens and immerse themselves in nature,” says supervisor Dave Borden. 
Borden, who teaches English and economics in the Upper School, organizes three four-day outdoor trips each year: two canoeing/paddling excursions and a back-country winter snowshoeing outing. He and fellow teachers Nick Morris and Craig Parkinson pack up the school’s equipment and take up to 14 students to provincial parks to experience camping, hiking, paddling and cooking in the great outdoors.

Prior to each trip, Borden holds an information session for the school community to discuss the trip and all requirements and to answer questions, as well as a risk management information session. All students participating in paddling trips must provide proof of swimming proficiency or pass a swim test. On the day before the trip, there’s an equipment check at the school to ensure everyone has the appropriate clothing and equipment, based on the list they all receive in advance.

Killarney Provincial Park was the destination for the fall trip in September, with the scenic location south of Sudbury providing enjoyable paddling, portaging, hiking and camping. There was a new campsite each day, open-fire cooking, and socializing around the campfire. The group also challenged themselves with a hike to Silver Peak, the highest in the park.

“It was quite demanding,” Borden says. “We moved at a military-march pace in order to get there and back down before dark. It’s steep, rugged terrain and they managed it, no problem. The peak itself is made of ground-down sandstone. The rock looks really white, like walking over a landscape of quartz.”

Austen Chen, a Year 10 participant, called the hike “incredible,” and said it was one of the highlights of the trip for him. 

“We were on top of the mountain, and we couldn’t see a single higher point.”

Chen also enjoyed the challenge of portaging for the first time, moving the canoes across land, along with the “tons of bags and barrels for meals that we carried in our canoes.”

The trip was Chen’s second with the outdoors club, and, “it felt great to get back into a canoe. It’s not something hard to do, but you get more efficient with practice.”

He also got to know some other students from Year 10, as well as Year 9 students. Borden finds that the trip builds new friendships among students and he enjoys getting to know them outside the classroom.

“It’s nice to be able to just chat,” Borden says. 

With stunning scenery, good company and rewardingly challenging activities, the trip was a great success.
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