Students from Paul William Kaeser High School took to the land for four days of learning at Sweetgrass Station, an annual trip that is now a firmly set community tradition.
Taking turns setting out over the course of Sept. 11 to the 17, about 30 Grade 7 and 13 Grade 8 students boated their way to Sweetgrass Landing for several hours, before making the 14-kilometre hike to their cabins where they are nestled deep in Wood Buffalo National Park.
A staple of the annual event was heavy community involvement, according to teacher Nashara Camel. Volunteers regularly provide transportation, while parent volunteers and Indigenous elders share their time and knowledge in running the camp.
Each day was filled with activity as students and adults alike practiced traditional harvesting, learned about the local environment and navigated their way around the park using canoes, compasses and GPS systems.
They also practiced their photography skills, shooting elements of nature and describing what they found. The pieces were submitted to astronaut Roberta Bondar’s annual photography challenge, a contest which encourages kids and adults alike to learn about biodiversity by looking through their camera lens.
In addition to all of the learning activities, the camp is a chance for teachers and students to bond and interact with elders and Canada Parks staff from the community.
The event drew national attention this year, with a feature about the 2014 excursion in Canadian Geographic’s September issue.