The benefits of experiential learning in the outdoors are well-researched and documented, and Hudson College has always planned time in nature as part of its curriculum. As Director Jeff Bavington explains, “The goal of our Grade 4‒6 Camp Muskoka and Grade 7‒8 Camp Wanakita excursions is for students to challenge themselves physically and emotionally while developing teamwork skills, building closer friendships and having fun!” Our Grade 9‒12 students also trek to Muskoka for a week on the water at Camp Wenonah, and this year Grade 9 enjoyed an additional leadership workshop at Adventure Valley.
Over the years, our community has seen the positive effects of these expeditions: bonding outside consistently improves students’ self-confidence and conflict-resolution skills while forming a foundation for positive student-teacher relationships. We believe it’s essential for students to participate even if they have no prior experience in a wilderness setting; this is why no classes are scheduled during camp weeks.
For some Hudson students, the outdoor excursions are a series of firsts: their first time on an overnight school trip, sleeping in a tent or portaging between lakes; their first time starting (and properly extinguishing) a campfire; it might even be the first time they’ve seen the stars away from city lights. For others, it’s a chance to spend time in a relaxing, familiar environment with new and old friends. Either way, getting outside allows everyone to appreciate the quiet beauty of the forest and form direct, meaningful connections with our natural environment.
We’re so lucky to have access to the Ontario wilderness alongside all the city amenities of central Toronto and plan every year to make sure our students experience a balance of both. Carina (’20) has joined every Upper School camping trip since Grade 9. She says, “The first year I went, I was nervous because I didn’t know anybody. By going on the trips I made new friends ‒ everyone in the different grades gets to know one another, everyone mixes up.” She noted that activities at Wenonah often change, but this year, “I really enjoyed kayaking and the rock climbing wall. We all made it to the top!”