Last week the Grade 10 & 11 (with a few Grade 12) Outdoor Ed students spent a night sleeping out in the Canadian Winter. On two separate nights, we had over 70 of our students from this semester sleep in the Quinzhees that they had spent the week building. This is always one of our most challenging events, but also one of the most rewarding for the students. The weather cooperated and there was plenty of snow.
The process started the week before as students began to pile the snow for their Quinzhees. Everything was used, shovels, scoops and even two halves of a canoe, as they were great snow movers. The mounts were very large this year and to top it off, we had 18 of them. The great thing about the amount of snow is that the students really got the opportunity to focus on the features that make the Quinzhee warmer to stay in. Things like proper platforms and cold sinks.
As the night drew closer, the groups began digging out their shelters, which can be a slow process. Some groups were working until the last minute to get their Quinzhees completed, but the end product of most of the shelters was of very high quality. The effort also gave the students true ownership and a real feeling of accomplishment. This always creates an electric feeling on the night of the wintercamp.
This year was no exception, even though we weren't allowed to have real fires. A small error with the fire permit didn't deter us though, we exchanged the flames for BBQ coals and made some great dinners. The first night provided some fresh snow and was quite warm, as we had our first break from the freezing temperatures this winter. It made for a great night to hang out and also a very comfortable night to sleep out. The second night was very similar and everyone had a great time hanging out and playing games. Everyone went into their Quinzhees warm and most did very well, even though the temperatures dropped significantly throughout the night.
It was all capped off with a great breakfast in the foods room and a few little naps during the next day.