North Vancouver Outdoor School
Program Foundations: Cooperation If global cooperation is our dream, how might we make it a reality? North Vancouver Outdoor School (NVOS) began in 1969 with cooperation as a cornerstone to its programs; now over 5200 students attend each year. The underlying theme for these young people is to develop a sense of responsibility, for themselves and the influence we have on Earth. Elementary students stay overnight for one, two or four nights depending on their age. They work in cabin groups with students their own age and with high school students as counselors. Days are spent outside studying and discovering the richness of life at Outdoor School, under the direction of teachers and recreation personnel. Here children learn by doing: they are immersed in nature and spirit of cooperation. Communities If a sense of community is our goal, how might we realize it? By living and studying in natural communities, each part of what students see and feel becomes less mystifying. Why must salmon die? Why can't apples survive without bees? Why do pines grow best in the uplands and not the lowlands? Why is cedar the mother of west coast native culture? These are questions that need to be tackled so we might fund our place in Earth's community. Students focus on these and other questions at Outdoor School. Within this microcosm, students quickly find a human community with its own first aid attendant, a Certified Chef, cooks, secretaries and maintenance staff. When necessary it is also part of the larger community of Squamish with a hospital and fire department. It is a unique school supported by the parents and community of North Vancouver and the Howe Sound Corridor. Without the involvement and commitment of these communities interacting cooperatively Outdoor School could not exist. We also have 10 rustic cabins, meeting rooms, an auditorium and conference center and swimming pool surrounded by 165 hectares (420 acres) of lush forests, streams, ponds and a swimming poo. We have the facilities and creative expertise to cater family reunions, holiday gatherings, staff appreciation parties, special events, and wellness retreats. Continuity If understanding the community of life is an objective, how might we learn this? At NVOS our goal is to influence people: learning for children, leadership for high school counselors, and responsibility for adults. This is a pattern, a continuum that has progressed for over 30 years. Our students' memories are as vivid as their original experience with Earth's cycles: incubating salmon eggs to produce returning spawners; raising piglets to massive boars and sows; nurturing seedlings to replace our 1000 year old cedars; being guided by Salish elders who teach us a sustaining lifestyle. This is an education children remember for a lifetime. By cooperating with these cycles, we hope to ensure the continuity of our existence within the global community.
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