42 teens waiting to Go Wild!

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‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.’ –Sanne van der Ros 

That’s one of the first things students learn before embarking on their five-day wilderness backpacking trips with Go Wild. The next thing they learn is how to prepare—they plan menus, pack equipment and study the area they’ll visit.

“Wildsight launched Go Wild in 2005,” said Sanne van der Ros, Go Wild coordinator. “It’s environmental education for teens—the focus is to develop leadership skills, learn hands-on about natural areas from local environmental educators and qualified guides, and find innovative ways to share knowledge after the trip.”

Three trips for 14 students each are planned this year—one in June and two in September—but it’s still up in the air as to whether there’ll be enough funding to cover them.

“Go Wild is as low-cost as we can make it,” van der Ros said. “Participants pay $100, and that includes all equipment and outdoor clothing, if needed. But the fee doesn’t cover the total cost of the trip—other funders fill in the gap.”

The Alpine Club of Canada, the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, Golden Secondary School’s Parent Advisory Council and the school districts donated funds or support this year, but additional money is needed to ensure the September trips happen.

“Outdoor education opportunities such as Go Wild have a profound effect on participants who discover more about themselves and the world around them,” van der Ros said. “Five days of low-impact camping, wilderness backpacking, interaction with community mentors, leadership training and ecological science are packed into each trip.”

After the trip, students explore another landscape: communications.

“They choose how they will deliver their report,” van der Ros said. “Writing an article for a newspaper, sharing through social media, producing a video, doing a slide show.

“The goal is to educate the school and larger community and encourage the others to act and make a positive difference in these local natural areas.”

For example, students who visit an alpine habitat will be able to communicate how other local users can access it without damaging the terrain or spreading invasive plants.

Go Wild guides are certified in Wilderness First Aid and follow a detailed route plan with emergency and risk management plans in place.

“Parents see powerful changes in their children’s behaviour and attitude in terms of environmental responsibility, leadership, confidence, and awareness of sustainable lifestyles,” van der Ros said.

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Golden Secondary School (September 2011)