By Maija Shea
Every year in late September, Milton District High School runs a trip to remember. Around 150 grade 10 students piled onto a bus in the early hours of the morning for four days of outdoor activities at Camp Wanakita. Wilderness North has been running for 15 years now, and this year was just as special as the rest.
Wanakita had lots in store for the students to enjoy. Rock climbing, low ropes and a team climbing brought team building and trust between the belayers, spotters, and the climbers. Archery, fire building, and team initiative activities allowed the students to put their heads together and work as a team with nothing but the resources in the woods and their ideas. Those who passed the swim tests could participate in water activities like kayaking and canoeing which was new to many of the students.
The physical outdoor activities aren’t the only things that Wilderness North has as tradition. On the first night, a campfire is run by the Wanakita staff and on the second night, by the grade 12 leaders. The leaders also ran an outstanding talent show on the last night of the trip. Students showed talents that made their peers’ jaws drop. Everybody was still raving by the songs performed by tenth graders, Easton and Bea, on the bus ride home and after the trip. Free time was also provided by the Wanakita staff with activities like tetherball, volleyball, free swimming, and basketball.
38 grade 11s were selected as leaders for the trip in the 2017/2018 school year. Most of them had gone to Wilderness North themselves in the year prior and applied to follow in the footsteps of the leaders who had made their experience possible. They ran an excellent trip with the help of the MDHS teachers and Wanakita staff full of exciting activities and fun performances.
What the leaders and grade 10s alike remember dearly is their cabin group. With these people, they didn’t only have the camp-wide matching Wilderness North shirts but matching bandanas for their cabin only. Around eight grade 10s stayed in a cabin with two or three leaders and did all of their activities with a partner cabin. The students went home with new or stronger friendships with their cabin mates after being fully immersed in them for four days. The leaders who went to Wanakita a day earlier than the grade 10s grew stronger as a team too, and say that it was worth missing a week of work in their senior year of high school.
What really made this year stand out at Wilderness North is the retirement of the beloved Mr.Walker, the Outdoor Education teacher at MDHS. He has been helping run this trip for 15 whole years, and the Wanakita staff provided him with a staff sweater and hat, and a cake as a going away gift. Mr.Walker’s daughter, who was a grade 12 leader this year, gathered the other leaders to sing a song for him at the talent show, as many of them attended his Outdoor Education course and have learned valuable lessons from him over the years. The night was emotional for everyone, and Mr.Walker will be missed on next year’s Wilderness North trip.
Do you want to have fun at Wilderness North 2019? Grade 9s, keep your ears open for announcements that will come next semester and grade 11s too for your chance to be a leader for the year to come!
Photos by Maija Shea