By Sophie O’Reilly –
Canada is an amazing country filled with beautiful nature, history, and cultural diversity. Students at Nepean High School recently had an opportunity to experience Canada’s wonders first hand. About twenty-five students from the Nepean High School outdoor education program went on an exchange to British Columbia from September 17-24.
The exchange was organized by the Experiences Canada 150 program which, in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, offers a variety of exchange trips for youth, with travel costs covered. The goal of the Experiences Canada program is to help Canadian youth develop a greater sense of Canadian identity, to create connections amongst Canadian youth, and to help them learn about different communities and cultures in Canada.
The students first flew to Kelowna and then drove to a camp called Eagle Bay, where they spent time getting to know their exchange partners and participated in leadership games and activities. The students went on to stay in their exchange partners’ homes in Vernon, British Columbia. While they were there, they travelled back towards Kelowna to camp in the mountains.
The Vernon exchange students are in a program called Students Without Borders Academy (SWBA), which focuses on leadership as well as getting students to step out of their comfort zones and experience other cultures. The Vernon group will arrive in Ottawa on October 12.
The Outdoor Education program at Nepean High School is a huge part of student life at Nepean and also has a focus on leadership, as well as on how to thrive in the outdoors while learning through hands-on experience and real-life situations.
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“The exchange took place so that the passionate students of the outdoor education program got to experience the outdoors, in a different region, and learn to love different forms of ecosystems and make lasting friendships while doing so,” says Nepean High School student, Carly Nangle.
During the exchange, the students from Nepean participated in many different outdoor activities such as cycling along the Kettle Valley railway, hiking, bouldering, and camping.
“My favourite part of the trip was getting to see the mountains early in the morning or late at night with all of the stars lighting up the sky,” says Nepean High School student, Benjamyn Blacklock. “It was definitely different than what we’re used to back in Ottawa.”
Overall, the exchange program offered by Experience Canada 150 proved to be a great opportunity for the outdoor education students of Nepean High School. Trips and exchanges are a really special and important part of student life and are both educational and fun for the participants.
Sophie O’Reilly is a grade 12 student at Nepean High School.