The weather can still be winter-like, so your child may need to bring personally labelled winter hats, gloves, rain pants and coats, as well as winter coats, pants, and boots. It may be warm enough for a light jacket but some warmer thermal layers are necessary so that if it gets cold, he/she can layer until they are warm. Activities include maple syrup collection and production and possibly still some snowshoeing and skiing (if the snow has not melted).
The weather usually warms up a bit by this time so that your child can possibly wear a t-shirt and lighter layer of clothing. This is bug season so your child will definitely need some bug spray. The activities at this time can include climbing as well as the other activities listed below.
During the dawn of the spring months, visitors to the OEC will be given the opportunity to tap a cache of maple trees and collect sap for syrup production. During one visit, a group collected over 270 litres of sap, yielding a well-earned 7 litres of pure Canadian maple syrup! Tools of the trade and techniques for collection will be discussed as the classes work together to make a favourite breakfast treat.
Students will be presented with several opportunities to explore the OEC property through nature hikes on our 15km web of hiking trails. During these leisurely hikes, visual evidence of the Canadian Shield, marshland, streams, lakefront, and wild animal behaviour can be seen and most often inspires questions and brief discussions. Emphasis is also placed on an introduction to a seemingly endless number of natural world organisms that the students might otherwise walk past without ever noticing. It is quite common for a group of students to be introduced to over ten new plants, trees and even wildlife species, during their hikes and stay at the OEC.
In an effort to provide students with a more adventurous exploration of our OEC property, students will participate in a variety of map, compass, and orienteering skills. Students will be introduced to the basics of map reading, navigating by landmarks, using a compass, following a bearing, and the game of orienteering. There are two newly-developed orienteering courses for all age groups to navigate in order to test and practice their skills of wilderness travel and navigation.
There are several activities, exercises, and discussion-based games that focus on group interaction, a sense of community and sharing. Through the use of these activities and games students build self-confidence, learn about teamwork, develop communication and leadership skills, and experience a positive sense of involvement. The development of these skills and attitudes are very important to our programme at the OEC and are carried throughout the week’s activities and events.
There are some things that you can’t ignore while up at the OEC and the picturesque night sky is most definitely one of them. Often as part of a night hike, or simply on its own, stargazing is a wonderful, relaxing activity that provides perfect OEC moments. Stories and verses challenge imaginations as mythological and astrological stories and legends are often exchanged with groups while under the blanket of lights.
Our world is connected through a finely woven web of life that branches out to all organisms. Some of these bonds and connections are easily seen while others are more complex and require some investigation to expose and understand them. Several of our programme activities are focused on an exploration of the natural world under our feet. Through a microenvironmental study these microscopic organisms are given their 15 minutes of fame as we spot light their importance to the life cycle of neighbouring organisms and even the larger web of life. Geographically, our property is host to several distinct land formations and glacial productions. The Canadian Shield is the most prominent of these formations as it can be seen from nearly every corner of our property. Investigations into how, when, and why these formations came into being are just a few of the topics discussed with the classes.
While the outdoor environment brings numerous learning opportunities and chances for adventure it can also bring challenges. Throughout our weekly activities and programme curriculum students will be introduced to several basic outdoor skills which can be used in various situations and environments. Shelter building, tracking, plant and tree identification, weather reading, proper dress, and communication are just a few topics covered.
An exciting challenge for all ages, our rock-climbing wall is waiting for students to conquer. Whether they have climbed before, or have yet to brave the adventure, our four-sided 25-foot wall has it all. Students are instructed on climbing safety, equipment selection and care, and most of all, safe climbing practices. Students will learn to belay (gathering the safety line) as their classmates climb and reach for their goals.
After a full day of outdoor-based activity and exploration, students are given 45 minutes to an hour of homework time. Following an evening snack break, students are presented with a wide variety of activities as evening programming. The activities include various “camp-type” games, crafts, board games, card games, ping-pong, drama skits, and campfires just to name a few.