The tradition of outdoor education experiences for Kawartha Lakes Grade 6 public school students will continue courtesy of a new partnership with Camp Muskoka for the 2022-23 school year.
Details regarding the recently signed contract with the Bracebridge-area facility were shared with Trillium Lakelands District School Board trustees during a recent meeting.
Earlier this year, the board opted to end its use of the Yearly Outdoor Education Centre. The board had been leasing a small part of land at Yearly for overnight programming for more than 50 years. The trips had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but when staff recently toured the site, they noticed the facilities closure and recent work done at the site had created safety concerns. There were also concerns with some of the buildings, including the kitchen/dining area.
The cancellation of the annual activity raised the ire of many families, some of whom had enjoyed their own visits to the centre located northwest of Huntsville.
“We heard from a lot of families, students and staff who were upset about us not using Yearly [this year] … So I’m hoping that people, when they hear this, that they’ll be excited and know that we weren’t just shutting down our outdoor education program; that we do, as a board, care,” said Trustee Louise Clodd of the new agreement.
Camp Muskoka is a year-round outdoor education facility that offers overnight summer camps and is also used as a wedding venue. The 500-acre property features private lakes, an archery range, beach volleyball court and more than 40,000 square feet of indoor space.
Superintendent of Learning, Paul Goldring also introduced the board’s plan for an outdoor education review committee. This committee will have the responsibility of reviewing the board’s outdoor education programming and its locations; including the Yearley Outdoor Education Centre. The committee will also develop a long-term strategy for outdoor education for students.
“Trillium Lakelands believes very strongly in the benefits of outdoor education,” said Goldring, adding that, while being predominately rural can be a challenge, the board is extremely fortunate to be located in an area that “offers so many opportunities for students and families to enjoy the outdoors.”
An update with recommendations will be provided after the outdoor education review committee has evaluated options for outdoor education.
At this point, only Grade 6 students will be going to Camp Muskoka, however, if budget allows, Goldring said it may be possible to also include those students in Grade 6/7 split classes.
Goldring also stated there will be no change in the cost for students to attend. The fee, as with previous trips to Yearly, will remain at $30 per student.