Students in Grade 9 this year had the opportunity to sign up for Shawnigan’s newest pilot program, Beyond the Gates (BTG). A program that was designed to take advantage of the natural wilderness that surrounds the campus, along with embracing the many local cultural traditions of the West Coast of Canada, all while incorporating experiential learning, this small group of 20-25 students benefit from an all-encompassing educational experience through Beyond the Gates.
In its inaugural year, this program’s focus on experiential learning has kept our students busy this fall. Whether on assignment moving spawning salmon at the Mill Bay Fish Trap, hiking local trails, writing poetry riverside, learning about the School’s new Growing Dome, or making homemade pizza in the School’s kitchens, the hands-on experiences link directly to lessons in geography, navigation skills, understanding yeast reproduction, cell replication and DNA extraction just to name a few. The students in the BTG program are certainly expanding on their education by allowing real-life experiences to inspire and guide them through their learning.
This past week, the students were to venture down to Goldstream Provincial Park, a well-known spot not too far from campus which sees a remarkable chum salmon run each year, however a great lesson in adaptability was had when record flooding hit Southern Vancouver Island at the beginning of the week, leading to the trip being cancelled. A quick redesign of the day took place and the students ended up spending the day at Cobble Hill Mountain, enjoying a hike to the summit to enjoy the beautiful sunny day that followed the record precipitation experienced. Along the way, they learned about the local flora and fauna and enjoyed being able to get out into nature.
As winter approaches, the activities will embrace the changing of the weather and allow the students to experience and adapt to whatever the weather brings. With snow sports to challenge them, and many community projects to participate in, the lived experiences that are being provided are leading to a lifetime of learning. Tying in their newly acquired know-how with their full academic course load including their co-curriculars, these Grade 9 students at Shawnigan really are getting an experience that goes “Beyond the Gates.”
We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.
Shawnigan Lake School is an independent co-educational boarding school for ages 13 –18 on Canada’s beautiful West Coast. Our diverse, interdisciplinary and innovative programming helps shape the next generation of global leaders.