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Friday, 19 October 2012 09:04

Polar bear trip was one to remember for SC Comp. students

Written by  Jessi Gowan
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Students in Senior Outdoor Ed at the Swift Current Comprehensive High School were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience on their fall trip to Churchill, Manitoba, where they got to observe polar bears before they headed out onto the ice of the Hudson Bay for the winter.

“It’s a pretty incredible opportunity,” admitted Outdoor Ed Advisor Kristen Simonson. “It’s a crazy thing to get to see, and it’s a very difficult trip to take as an adult. It takes a lot of effort to get up there, and it’s a really wonderful experience for the students.”
Since the trip is costly for students and staff, students only have the opportunity to go once every four years. This ensures each new cycle of students have the chance to experience the journey.
“It’s a really great way to let kids see first hand how climate change is affecting our planet,” Simonson said. “It’s a cold and long trip, but it’s absolutely worth it. I don’t think there was one kid who would have chosen not to go.”
The group spent three days on the train with no showers and very little sleep, but Simonson describes the first time they saw a bear within touching distance as ‘surreal’.
“We were all just awestruck; it was so incredible,” she noted. “For most of us, that moment was the best part of the trip.”
The trip involved more than just viewing the polar bears, however. Students got to pick cranberries on the tundra, learn about the Hudson Bay Company, and even tour a huge freighter at Port Churchill.
“This trip really played to all kinds of different people, so there was something for everyone,” Simonson added. “Lots of kids had never even seen the ocean before, so just that was really big for them.”
Outdoor Ed is a great opportunity for students to experience a number of new things during their time at SCCHS. In addition to this trip, students can enjoy ski trips, white water canoe trips, ice fishing trips, smaller excursions to places such as Grasslands National Park, and even landscaping around the school.
“We are a very active group, and we have a great safety record,” explained Simonson. “We make sure that our kids learn how to do certain skills like making a campfire and setting up a tent, because this is a leadership club that is really built on mutual respect and trust.”

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