The start of the winter term at Shawnigan means that Ski Week is just around the corner! In a little under four weeks, the majority of the School community will make the annual trek to Manning Park, where we will take over the resort’s accommodations and fill the mountain slopes.
This decades-old tradition has long been an important fixture on the School calendar, and in many ways defines the Shawnigan experience. For five days, Shawnigan is relocated – transplanted to a mountain resort – and academics, athletics and fine arts are reimagined in an intimate and remote location. This is a time when community is strengthened. Students spend time outside of the classroom with staff and their families, and new friendships are formed as some students discover a shared love of outdoor adventure, while others laugh together over a shared lack of experience.
Throughout its 49-year history, Ski Week has seen a natural evolution occur in programming, safety, facilities, and more. That said, many traditions have been retained. Inter-house competition has been a mainstay since Ski Week’s inception, and while some of the events may have changed over the years, enthusiasm certainly hasn’t waned. Inter-house Reach for the Top has challenged the School’s brightest minds since the 1970’s, hundreds of grade 8s and 9s have learned how to cross country ski in the middle of the mandatory Inter-house race, and the downhill events have been challenging students for decades.
Two beloved events – Inter-house snow sculpture and the winter carnival – were introduced in tandem in 1984 when a longstanding French teacher, Stewart Candelaria, dressed up as Bonhomme Carnaval, the mascot for Quebec City’s Winter Carnival, and instituted Shawnigan’s version of this festival. More than 30 years later, we still host a winter carnival, now organized by the grade 11s; and the snow sculptures remain fiercely competitive.
A long line of brave teachers has led select students on backcountry expeditions – including building and sleeping in snow caves – from the very first Ski Week. Although safety procedures and equipment have mercifully been upgraded, enthusiasm from the most adventurous of students for this trip-within-a-trip remains the same.
Generations of Shawnigan students have experienced this special week at Manning Park, and we can’t wait to share this year’s trip with a new group of students in just a few short weeks!
A shopping trip has been organized at the end of January for those students who have not yet purchased their winter gear.
Shawnigan Lake School is a co-educational boarding school on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The school is home to nationally-ranked academics, arts and athletics, with 100 per cent of graduates accepted to university.