Experiential learning

Experiential learning

At Shawnigan, we believe that some of the best learning happens outside of the classroom.

It's not a new concept. In fact, it's why schools have always organized sports and cultural tours, produced musicals and taken young people into the great outdoors.

The idea is that, when faced with real-life situations, students are forced to make decisions, and even mistakes, that will enhance their education beyond the scope of any textbook.

At Shawnigan, we strive to put students in situations — sometimes uncomfortable ones — where there may not be a road map or answer to look up.

Our EDGE Program challenges young leaders to provide a valuable service in the developing world. Our salmon hatchery puts fish stock directly in the hands of students. Our outdoors program pushes participants to sleep in snow caves, brave whitewater rapids and administer first aid in adverse conditions. Our Entrepreneurship 12 class faces the pressures of running a popular restaurant. Our Model UN delegates discuss geopolitical crises. Our robotics team must overcome technical glitches while competing on the world stage. 

At Shawnigan, the teaching is never hands-off. Rather, we support students as they face challenges head-on, offering encouragement, advice and feedback where appropriate.

Importantly, we also want to ensure that education remains fun — as that's when it's the most effective.

List of 5 items.

  • Duke of Edinburgh Award

    Established by H.R.H. Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1956, the “DofE” is an internationally recognized three-level award program. Each of the three levels—Bronze, Silver and Gold—encompasses four categories (Service, Physical Recreation, Skills and Adventurous Journey) that, together, form a supportive and positive framework for students who are excited to explore and get involved in their communities through a healthy and active lifestyle.

    Shawnigan students begin the Bronze level in Grade 9 and have the opportunity in subsequent years to qualify for their Silver and Gold levels. Working towards completion of one or more of the tiers of the DoFE program immerses students in an experiential learning program, aids them in discovering hidden talents, taps into their leadership potential and helps them to gain confidence in pursuing community service and adventure opportunities.

    In addition, as a program that helps develop participants in a holistic manner, the DofE Award is highly regarded by many universities and thus serves to complement university applications and a student’s overall CV. 
  • EDGE Service Trips

    An indispensable part of a Shawnigan education, our EDGE trips take students outside of their comfort zones to corners of the world where lessons about humanity abound.

    What began as a humanitarian trip to Thailand to aid victims of the 2004 Asian Tsunami has evolved into a network of service tours. Venturing to China, Zimbabwe and Ecuador, students are guaranteed to return from Shawnigan EDGE trips with a new perspective on the world.

    Don't just take our word for it, though. Read blogs from our EDGE teams themselves.
  • Observatory

    Imagine walking a few steps from physics class to peer through the lens of a telescope.
    Imagine following celestial events as they happen, surrounded by passionate, informed teachers, inside a research-grade observatory.

    Featuring a 14-inch Celestron telescope and a research-grade camera, Shawnigan's on-campus observatory brings the beauty and mysteries of the universe closer than ever.

    With its rural setting and low light pollution, Shawnigan is an ideal place for stargazing. Thanks to our science and digital arts programs, not to mention annual trips to Hawaii's Pacific Astronomy and Engineering Summit, there's always something more for keen astronomers to work on.

    We welcome members of the community to share in this amazing facility, and to join us as we travel to distant stars and back in time.
  • Mark Hobson Hatchery

    Established by Mark Hobson ’80, the hatchery is home to one of the first on-campus high school fish hatchery programs in British Columbia.

    Thanks to the hatchery, countless Shawnigan students have learned about the economic, social and ecological value of these amazing fish. In addition to their on-campus education, students travel to streams, rivers and other hatchery facilities on Vancouver Island to see their subject at work in its natural habitat.
  • Ski Week

    At the end of every January, Shawnigan puts classes and exams on hold as nearly the entire School ventures to Manning Park, B.C.

    A tradition spanning four decades, Ski Week is the quintessential combination of experiential learning and fun. While at Manning Park, students ski, snowboard and cross-country on some of the lightest powder in the Province. Beginners can take advantage of all-inclusive lessons and rentals, while experienced riders can represent their houses on race day.

    Of course, as the lifts close and skiing winds down each day, the entertainment is just beginning. Long after graduation, students often wistfully tell us about their favourite memories from Ski Week, ranging from mugs of steaming hot chocolate to games of pick-up broomball on the rink. There is also overnight snow camping, trivia, snow sculpting, karaoke, tubing, a winter carnival and much more.

    Ski Week is a special opportunity for students and staff alike to interact in a different way and to create lasting bonds and memories. Much as the initiative has changed over the years (for one thing, we now bring home every scrap of garbage, compost and recycling we create), Ski Week still retains the special feeling that can only come from experiencing outdoor fun as a community.
    • Ski Week 2020

    • Observatory

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.