It was with a mix of anticipation, delight, and uncertainty that the Shawnigan community departed for Manning Park on February 12 for our first Ski Week since early 2020. One of Shawnigan’s most cherished and longstanding traditions, this year’s Ski Week was particularly special not only because it marked our post-pandemic return, but because it meant we had reached a milestone.
February 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of the School’s first Ski Week – a true testament to the strength of this event. Although a few years have been missed along the way due to lack of snow and the COVID-19 pandemic, the week of adventure that was first dreamed up 50 years ago remains one of the most important moments in every student’s Shawnigan Journey.
The very act of transplanting nearly an entire school community to the mountains inherently provides opportunities for growth and connection. With that in mind, Ski Week is featured as an intentional part of The Shawnigan Journey, with distinct moments built into the week to foster each grade level’s guiding concept: nurture (Grade 8), discover (Grade 9), choose (Grade 10), lead (Grade 11), and inspire (Grade 12).
This year’s Ski Week was at once unique and yet rich with beloved traditions. Many favourite activities filled our days, such as cross-country skiing lessons, snowshoeing, and downhill skiing and snowboarding during the daytime; and karaoke, broomball, and the ever-popular Staff Review – a skit put on by Shawnigan staff – in the evenings.
A key feature of every Ski Week is the inter-House competition that runs throughout the week. With events ranging from downhill and cross-country races to snow sculpture building to Reach for the Top (trivia) battles, there is something to engage all students. New this year was Inter-House Karaoke, which was enthusiastically embraced by all Houses.
Our brave Search and Rescue students and staff embarked on their traditional overnight adventure, hiking to a backcountry area near the top of the ski hill and spending the night in snow caves that they built themselves.
When asked what the snow conditions were like at Manning Park during a pre-Ski Week staff meeting, Ms. Katrina Cholack, one of the trip organizers, said, “Don’t worry, we always bring the snow with us!” – and she was right. We woke up to heavy snow on Monday morning that continued throughout our first day of skiing. For much of the rest of the week, however, we were blessed with beautiful sunny weather.
Throughout the week, we were treated to incredible food made by our very own kitchen team, who travelled with us and took on the challenge of feeding over 500 people on the mountain! They rose to this challenge with great success, keeping everyone well fed with mouth-watering hot meals and delicious snacks at every turn.
Upon reflection, while the myriad events and activities are fun, what makes Ski Week truly special is the new way in which the Shawnigan family draws together. As key Ski Week leader Mr. Nigel Mayes shares, “Part of the beauty of Ski Week is the opportunity that the whole community has to see each other in a different context. The School is not the same after Ski Week in lots of really good ways.”
It is often the quieter, sometimes intangible moments – waiting in line for a steaming hot lunch in the snow, quality conversations on the chairlift, or learning how to cross-country ski with a friend – that create the greatest moments and the longest lasting memories.
The photos in the gallery at the top of this page represent just a small percentage of our Ski Week coverage – follow us on social media to see more photos in the coming days!
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.