Monday, 25 May 2015

School groups 101

Hi Folks,
As you may or may not know, this is the middle of a busy school group season at Shekinah. Teachers from all over are bringing their students for a day or two of retreat at Shekinah. These camping retreats are a great way to celebrate the impending end to the school year and get a taste of what summer will be like, spending time having fun outside. The school program at Shekinah has a number of angles for learning ranging from teamwork, leadership, confidence building, nature studies, camping skills, ecological appreciation, spiritual growth and all manner of different flavours that teachers bring to the table. Bringing a school group to Shekinah creates the opportunity for meaningful outdoor education. We hope to be an important resource for the teachers who come here.

On the flip side of the coin, school groups are very meaningful to Shekinah. We appreciate the life that the students bring to the camp. As the school program director at Shekinah, I have a specific appreciation of teachers who are dedicated to bringing their class here year after year. When I started this job, Kristy left me with a written sheet of advice. On it she noted that there are some teachers "who have been doing this for quite some time and have their trips down to an efficient art... it's a beautiful thing". These teachers are a joy to work with and make my life much easier in this job. One such teacher is Diane Beaule from Venture Heights Elementary School in Martensville. Within my first month of school programming in 2013, I saw her run a 2-day camp like a well-oiled machine. I noted she looked very practiced and comfortable in the role. At the time, we were rebuilding the chalet from the flood and Diane walked around the corner and was greeted by Carl Wiens who was working on the rebuilding project. The two talked like old friends and I realized then why Diane was able to get so much out of her time here. If she has been bringing her class since Carl was the director here, Diane and Shekinah go back a long time. Longer than any other teacher still bringing their class here today. This year was the last camp before Diane's retirement from Venture Heights and I got a chance to ask her about her time spent here at Shekinah. No-one has a perspective exactly like hers. Through the years, the school program has seen different activities come and go and different directors sit in my chair and fill this job. One thing I hope though is that long standing supporters of Shekinah realize how much we appreciate them. We appreciate Diane and her dedication to outdoor education. We appreciate parents who send their kids to camp every  year and invite their friends. We appreciate annual Timber Lodge retreats from church groups and quilters and scrap bookers. It is through you that Shekinah's vision is fulfilled.