Adventures Beyond the Gates

The Grade 9s who took part in the Beyond the Gates Capstone Expedition to the West Coast of Vancouver Island surprised even themselves with what they were able to accomplish, and made life-long memories on the trip that combined epic kayaking and hiking adventures.
Twenty-three students – nearly three times as many as last year – participated in the event, which marks the conclusion of this year’s Beyond the Gates experiential learning program that takes Grade 9s off campus for adventures across Vancouver Island so they can get to know more about the incredible area where we live and learn.
Half of the students – “Team Black” – started by hiking the West Coast Trail, and the others – “Team Gold” – began by kayaking the Broken Group Islands in Barkley Sound. They overlapped in the middle, all staying at the Broken Group Lodge together for one night, and then Team Black kayaked the Broken Group while Team Gold hiked the trail. Each group was accompanied by multiple staff members throughout the expedition.
When the teams met at Broken Group Lodge, they were given letters and cards from House Directors, Advisors and family members – an emotional moment for all the participants.
The kayakers learned that every island is unique in its own way – some with white-sand beaches and others of massive significance to the local First Nations people. The hikers learned about the history of the West Coast Trail and the Graveyard of the Pacific – a treacherous portion of the coast known for more than 2,000 shipwrecks, the majority more than a century ago.
All the students carried heavy backpacks full of supplies and cooked their own food – everything from quesadillas and butter chicken to pancakes. At night the students in both groups gathered around fires and reflected on the day’s events and their gratitude for everything they were experiencing as well as things they missed back at the School. Upon their return, they presented journals to Head of School Mr. Larry Lamont, detailing the journey and everything they learned.
When they returned to the School, the students delivered a presentation to staff members, which Assistant Head Co-Curricular Mr. Nigel Mayes (who also accompanied one of the teams on the expedition) called “clear, confident and articulate.” During that presentation, several of the students spoke about how they made new friends on the trip, or became closer with friends they already had. In response to a question from one teacher, the students admitted that they bonded better without their phones, which had been left behind at the School, and probably would have been without service on the remote coast anyway.
Among those who summed up the trip best was Nikolas O., who told the audience, “I think I speak for everyone when I say we will remember what happened on this trip for the rest of our lives.”
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.