Grade 10s in Mattawa

By Matthew Mooney
On February 4, RSGC’s Grade 10 boys loaded their gear onto buses and headed to the wilds of Mattawa, Ont., to spend the week at the Canadian Ecology Centre. The purpose of this trip was for the boys to spend time outside, build relationships, learn about nature and challenge themselves to do something beyond their comfort zone.
Accompanying the class was the dream team of Mr. Enfield, Mr. Rankin, Dr. Leatch, Mr. Smith, Mr. Farrar, Mr. Thornbury and yours truly. The group was looking for a winter experience, and winter they got! Several feet of snow and chilly temperatures were on the menu for everyone to enjoy.

Throughout the week, boys participated in many activities, such as snowshoeing, fire starting, spoon carving, voyageur games on Champlain’s trail, night hikes, wolf howling and observing the night’s sky through the observatory’s epic telescope. The boys also encountered bald eagles, beavers and the leftovers of a local wolf pack’s meal. However, the highlight was definitely building and sleeping overnight in quinzees (snow structures that take hours and plenty of calories to build). Given the drop in temperature overnight, even the toughest of chaps endured a constitutional test.

Despite the physical demands of the week and the discomforts of being away from home, the boys participated with energy and enthusiasm. It should also be noted that the accommodations of the camp were primo; clean and modern cabins with beddings and towels were provided for staff and students. In the words of Mr. Thornbury, “...all that was missing in the cabins was a chocolate mint on the pillow”. 

Mr. Enfield should be commended for putting together an excellent trip, along with the accompanying staff, and the employees of Alive Outdoors and the Canadian Ecological Centre. As a result of the challenges this program provided the boys, they learned that they are stronger and more resilient than they thought they were.