By Jenny HOWELL
Down to Earth
With literally days to spare, the wildfire restrictions were lifted so that schools could come out to Gavin Lake for the fall school program. However, that wasn’t quite the end of this summer’s woes. After just one week of programs the camp hit water issues, a combination of incredibly low lake levels and aging infrastructure – the Gavin Lake camp has about 4,000 visitors a year.
Classes were cancelled, backhoes arrived, new wells were dug and pipes replaced. Now, we are finally back to the ‘old’ normal, with kids running around camp again (instead of firefighters), tents on the field (instead of helicopters), huge quantities of spaghetti being produced in the kitchen (instead of coffee for pilots and incident commanders) and planning study modules (instead of pouring over fire maps).
The Gavin Lake school program is offered free to Grade 6 classes. This is possible because Gavin Lake is a charity and gets donations and sponsorship from multiple local and regional sources. The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society sponsors two of the six Gavin modules each fall as well as ‘Snow Science’ in the February winter program.
This year the two modules sponsored are Beavers and Wetlands and Aquatic Insects. In the first one, students learn about the biology of beavers, their role as a keystone species, as well as the value of wetlands in protecting the world’s water supplies. In Aquatic Insects, students learn about the bugs at the bottom of food chains and their role supporting the species above them.
Anyone who has come to Gavin Lake with their kids knows how valuable it can be to combine academics and outdoor education. We are now seeing significant cooperation between various groups in our region that focus on getting kids outside and more connected to their environment, giving them multiple experiences both inside and outside classrooms that connect and build on each other. There are many great examples of these partnerships happening in our region.
The Conservation Society’s Water Wise field trips are co-ordinated with both Scout Island Nature Centre and the City of Williams Lake. School District 27 has a Nature Kindergarten based at Scout Island and two Outdoor Ed classes that also work closely with Scout Island and Gavin Lake.
Salmon School, recently held at Gavin Lake, brought together the School District, Scout Island, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, First Nations and the UNBC Quesnel River Research Station. The Conservation Society’s annual Grade 7 Earth Challenge adds in Forestry, Air and Invasive Plants and the list goes on.
These inter-relationships greatly improve and enrich the value of the experiences offered to students. This in turn contributes to producing the educated and environmentally aware citizens of tomorrow that society needs, as we find our way forward in a rapidly changing world.
Conservation Tip of the Month: Spend autumn outdoors with your children. Picking veggies at a local farm, riding horses, fishing, hiking, and raking up leaves are all great options. Bring your leaf litter to the Potato House where it will be used as part of their compost.
Jenny Howell is the Water Wise Educator with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society.