This week our Tue-Thurs groups were off site on field trips. Check out where they went and the highlights below!
What a pleasant surprise when the Tuesday group arrived at the side of Old Mail Rd, unloaded from the car and immediately came across a massive waterfall! Dreams of summer came to life in that moment, of natural showers and swimming in the pools. We walked in along the Bruce, and with no set agenda, slowed right down and followed our hearts.
And our hearts led us to some crazy animal tracks! We followed squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, mice, deer, fox and more. Imaginations came to life as we wondered about what these creatures could possibly be doing. So why did the Raccoon cross the road? Well, to get to the other side our students figured. Our keen nature eyes even led us to a dead shrew, that we studied and tried to figure out what when on, with many theories being brought forth. Some students were even so attuned to nature, they were able to spot the remnants of subnivean tunnels that little critters had made during the winter.
Eventually, we headed into the valley and made ourselves comfy by the river for lunch. Rivers are both mesmerizing and alluring and before we knew it, we were ankle deep manipulating rocks, discovering clay, building bridges and searching for creatures.
We took some time to really slow down, read a story and picked quiet places to really focus on our senses other than sight. At this time, students were also ensuring that the Teachers were unable to sneak up behind them and steal their special token. And then it started to snow! A magical moment in the forest that led to some free play and the ultimate discovery of a giant class-sized natural see-saw.
Our Wednesday group headed west to Matt’s hometown to hike one of his favourite trails. Starting at Beautiful Joe Park, we headed upstream along the banks of the swift moving Bighead River. With no set agenda, we were able to slow down and appreciate all our surroundings. We made snow slides, tried to balance rocks, and stomped our way through the mud and snow. Our student’s only objective was to “notice” something (a sound, smell, sight, feeling, etc) to share with the group later on.
Eventually we made our way to a space where we could venture our on the dry river bed where we played around in the huge felled trees and got a first hand lesson on the power of erosion (the river had quite literally eroded away part of the trail this spring.) We lit a bonfire, had lunch and spent some quiet solo time in nature, taking in all the noises – and ensuring the teachers didn’t sneak up and steal our chosen rock by using all our senses except for sight. And these rocks became our “Gratitude Rocks” meant to store all things we are grateful for – then taken home, placed in a special spot, perhaps forgotten about until found again one day to act as a reminder.
We spent some more unstructured time in our new oasis where students began to build a damn, climb massive roots, and do a little eroding of their own. When it was time go, we were sad to leave – the mark of a really great day. We played a quick game of camouflage and were greeted by FNS Educator Kim, new baby Abby and good old goofy Aden, who joined us for the hike out.
Our Thursday group wasn’t bothered by the rain and tackled about 5 km(!!!) of the Bruce and it’s side trails. We wandered in, taking time to follow subnivean tunnels (including a roundabout!), wonder about the life and happenings of the surrounding trees, scope out fungi and lichen, and tell tales of different tracks we came across. We were even surprised by a snowy owl, or it was surprised by us, as it flew just feet over our heads. Along the way, we spent some silent time sauntering along the trail, taking in the sounds, sights and noticing our own feelings that were happening. We uncovered shelters, climbed trees and imagined that many of the trees seemed to be sticking their tongues out at us.
As our hike continued, we jumped onto a side trail that took us across the top of the escarpment, and while we couldn’t take our normal ice slide in because is was too dangerous, we found another adventure route down that (safely!) pushed us out of our comfort zones. Down in the crevasses, we crept and crawled our way through, in awe of the frozen moss on the walls. We even found our own ice slide before heading back out for a really late lunch!
See you next week! Just a heads up, that with the cold weather forecast, our planned activity (Fishing) will most likely be postponed.