One of the best ways to explore the OEC property during the winter season is on a pair of cross-country skis. Our trails offer a variety of terrains, providing a challenge to all skill levels and a great aerobic workout. Basic skills and techniques are taught to begin the learning process, however the primary goal during this activity is for the students to have fun while skiing in the great white outdoors.
Snowshoeing is a classic form of winter exercise where your path is limited only by the imagination. Students will be presented with an opportunity to re-trace the paths of our ancestors by walking a mile or two in their shoes, so to speak. Students will look into the evolution of the snowshoe, its founding people, and the many benefits for their use, both past and present. As well, students will be using modern day GPS units to navigate the forest of the OEC.
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.
Students will have the opportunity to challenge their classmates in a good ol’ fashion game of broomball on the frozen field of the OEC. Dating back to the early 1900s, this game is a lot of fun and has similar rules to hockey but is played with a ball and a plastic broom stick. Maybe you will get to challenge your teachers!
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.
Our low ropes course offers much more than a test of a student’s balance and determination. Each of our seven elements proposes a challenge, which students must undertake on an individual or group approach. Through the use of these elements students develop leadership skills, communication skills, teamwork, and problem solving skills. There is a lot of emphasis put on safety as all students help spot their classmates while participating in these activities.
Our high ropes course is a “step up” from the low ropes course where students are given the chance to challenge themselves both physically and mentally. Students learn through teamwork, communication and problem solving. Students help their classmates keeping them safe while high in the air. Students have an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone, enabling them to realize that they can surpass their goals and conquer their fears.
After a full day of outdoor based activity and exploration, students have 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, to name a few.