This month a group of students with complex needs at École Secondaire Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School went on an overnight camping trip to Camp Cadicasu, in Kananaskis County. (Contributed)
This month a group of students with complex needs at École Secondaire Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School went on an overnight camping trip to Camp Cadicasu, in Kananaskis County. (Contributed)

This month a group of students with complex needs at École Secondaire Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School went on an overnight camping trip to Camp Cadicasu, in Kananaskis County. (Contributed) This month a group of students with complex needs at École Secondaire Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School went on an overnight camping trip to Camp Cadicasu, in Kananaskis County. (Contributed)

Red Deer students learn the skills needed for camping

‘It was an amazing opportunity to build independence’

Several Red Deer high school students with complex needs can now officially call themselves campers.

Earlier this month, 21 students from École Secondaire Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School stayed overnight at Camp Cadicasu, in Kananaskis County, where they learned how to construct a lean-to shelter from branches, build a campfire, and of course, tackle the sticky challenges of marshmallow s’mores.

Teacher Hayley Goring said it was the first overnight camping experience for many of the students, and their first night away from their parents.

“With the right planning, our students can take part in everything, and we need to make sure that we’re being inclusive in the opportunities we’re providing for students,” Goring said.

“Sometimes that means that you take more staff, or add extra planning, but I think the students deserve the same opportunities that are provided to their same-age peers.”

She said camping is a typical summer activity, something often seen in the movies, or on television.

“I think for a lot of them it was an amazing opportunity to build independence. They had the opportunity to have a night away, and be responsible for their self care and hygiene. Just a chance for them to bond with their classmates in a different environment.”

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She said a big hit with the campers was the campfire where they had a sing-a-long, hot chocolate and roasted s’mores. Some students also proved they had serious shelter-building skills and created a lean-to that could fit about eight people.

“They just kept fortifying their shelter, and they hung out in it, and played music. It was fantastic.”

Games, performance arts, and earth crafts were among the other activities, and students slept soundly that night at the campground, she said.

“We were prepared for a sleepless night. We were ready. We had staff staying awake all night to make sure appropriate supervision for the students in case they woke up, and every student did fantastic.”

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Three teachers and nine educational assistants accompanied the students, and prior to the trip, there were class discussions with students about what it would be like to be away from home, what to pack, and what they would be like at camp, for example eating food that might be different from they’re usual meals.

Preparations for the trip started earlier this year. The school’s Booster Club provided some funding, along with money students raised selling pet treats.

Goring said it’s been a few years since there was a school camping trip, and with such a successful trip this month, more will be planned.

“After we did it, (staff) all agreed we really want to make it work every year. This was an awesome opportunity for them.”



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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