Outdoor Education

St. Michael’s College School believes strongly in the value of experiential education, which is, simply defined, "learning by doing." Our meaningful, customized programmes engage our students physically, emotionally and mentally.

We believe that by taking students away from their everyday, comfortable environment into a place of perceived uncertainty it is possible to engage students in learning that might not be possible in an urban context or day-programme. Activities that are both physically and mentally challenging are used to maximize these learning experiences.

Research shows that through experiential education programs young people can learn significant things about themselves, including new personal and life perspectives and attitudes and a better understanding of themselves and how they relate to others.

There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less.

Kurt Hahn, a pioneer in experiential education

All of our outdoor education programmes are structured to ensure success for all participants, both as individuals and team members. We strive to build a united community where young men feel they are the authors of their own lives.

While the purpose of our experiential opportunities will vary at each grade-level, rooted in each one of our trips are the goals of increasing communication skills, enhancing group cooperation, improving problem-solving skills, enhancing leadership skills, and increasing respect and trust for oneself and for the group.

Trips outside of the classroom often allow young people the opportunity to see themselves in a new and remarkable way. We feel that these experiences beyond the classroom walls will help provide our students with the building blocks needed to continue to move forward as connected, resilient, competent, confident and self-aware young men.

ALIVE Outdoors Inc, specialists in outdoor education has developed and delivers all of the outdoor education programmes for St. Michael’s College School. For more information about ALIVE Outdoors, please click here to visit its website.

Grade 7 Camp

Theme: Community Building
Since Grade 7 is an entry point for students into SMCS, an emphasis on community is essential. Students will be spending the next six years with this peer group, and it is important for the grade to learn to work together, appreciate each other’s strengths and develop bonds and ties. Along with the creation of community comes the need for teamwork, communication, conflict resolution and trust. This trip runs for the first four days of school each year at YMCA Camp PineCrest in Muskoka.

Grade 8 Camp

Theme: Teambuilding, Acceptance of Others & Goal Setting
A beautiful white winter in the woods does not compare to winter in the city. The boys will have the opportunity to play broomball, snowshoe, cross-country ski, toboggan and learn winter survival techniques. For some boys these will be completely new experiences, and for others they will be able to enhance their skills and help teach and encourage their peers.  They will also partake in a couple workshops. This trip takes place annually on the Wednesday- Friday during the first week back after the Christmas holidays at YMCA Wanakita in Haliburton, Ontario.

Grade 9 Camp

Theme: Personal Leadership
ALIVE believes that within each and every one of us exists enormous potential for growth and learning. This trip focuses on nurturing and creating a self-awareness of the personal leadership skills that lie within every SMC student. As well, it helps them learn valuable life skills, such as the importance of tapping into our personal strengths, the value of encouragement and personal integrity. Throughout this four day adventure, each student will have an opportunity to learn proper paddling techniques, climb a rock wall, challenge themselves on the high ropes course, learn no trace camping techniques, as well as work together to accomplish various group tasks. The final day they will participate in the SMCS Eco-Challenge—a mini adventure race. They will return to school with energy and a passion for succeeding. This trip runs for the first four days of school each year at YMCA Wanakita, in Haliburton Ontario.  

Grade 10 Camp

Theme: Curriculum Focus
This trip covers a broad spectrum of the curriculum for the four electives: Phys. Ed, Music, Art and Design & Technology. Students taking art will be painting on the shores of the lake, while studying some of the Group of Seven techniques. Phys. Ed students will each go on a three night canoe trip. Music students will work in small ensemble groups; as well there will be full band rehearsals, and an evening drumming circle. The Design & Technolgy students will make their own paddles from start to finish, as well as work on other building projects. This trip is multi-tiered, and focuses on outdoor activities as well.  This unique trip takes places during the second full week of school at various locations.

At all of the camps there is a beautiful, candle-lit Mass under the stars. It is always a magical experience for everyone.

Leadership Training

At the beginning of each May approximately 100 grade 9-12 students spend three days at camp in a leadership-training programme. These students fill out an application and provide a reference to be accepted into this unique camp.  The boys spend time on workshops that are focused on enriching their leadership skills. They learn how to assist the Outdoor Education Staff in the fall, and they spend time discussing techniques for being effective and caring role models for the September camps. These boys act as student counselors for each cabin at the above camps. They are the backbone of the experiential education camps and we are very proud of how effective this peer mentorship programme is at creating community back at SMCS.