Even outdoor enthusiasts would agree that hiking uphill for nine kilometers in Garibaldi Park is no small feat. Jonathan Tenta, special education teacher at Windermere Secondary School, has been making the trek for the past decade with a group of male students aged 15-17 years, as part of the pre-employment program at the school.
The Pre-Employment program is for male students between 15-17 years old who have not found success in the mainstream school program. It combines various metalwork, woodwork and small engine repair facilities with an academic class setting. The three-day Garibaldi hike is part of the outdoor education component of the program.
"A lot of these students have never been on a hike before," says Tenta. "This experience really gets them outside of their comfort zones."
This past October, Tenta and the 11 male students braved the three-day excursion. Students carried all the gear they required for the hike and learned basic outdoor skills such as setting up tents, how to pack their bags and cooking with a gas stove.
Tenta says the most important take-away went beyond a lesson in outdoor survival.
"The students learned a lot about planning, responsibility and being accountable," says Tenta. "A lot of their success depended on them working together. It was a team building activity that set the tone for what they're capable of."
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