What a lovely day for a boat ride

A sunny day in June. What could be better than taking a canoe ride out on Deer Lake? Not much! Students and staff from John Oliver’s Take a Hike Program picked up Division 5 with two vans laden with canoes and it was off on another adventure!

Once canoes were loaded off the vans and life jackets were secured, it was time to hear about the safety rules on the water.

Gathered together in Circle

We were a confident bunch. Some of us especially so! Doesn’t Sergio look ready to paddle across a lake?

Got my paddle. I'm ready!

One adult. Two students and the boats were out on the water in no time! My boat was full of enthusiasm. “This is so great!” “We’re really doing this.” “Let’s go faster!” “This is the best thing ever!” “Are we going to race?”

All smiles out on the water

The rule was when Tim’s paddle went up in the air, everyone should come to him. With many novice paddlers, this accomplishment was a big one!


Then it was off to find turtles! Many questions when we were on the lake: “Are there any beavers?” “There aren’t really any alligators, are there?” “Can I catch a fish with my hand if I find one?” “Was that a dragonfly? Look there are three!”


Some of us looked like absolute naturals on the water! Often the steering genius of the adult in the back wasn’t realized. But hey, paddle in hand, an open lake, and we felt like we could do anything!  Still, thank you Take a Hike students and staff for the back end of the boat power!


We headed in for lunch and some impromptu “goose herding” These geese were very interested in so many children with so many lunches!

So many geese!

After lunch, students were given the option of going back into canoes. But this time with no adults! Who was in? Who wasn’t?! The rules were only two in a boat (so nobody in the middle could tip the boat) and don’t go past the adult boat out there to keep an eye. We stayed in the shallow waters and felt like world class paddlers! Best line of the day was uttered at this point by Catriona when told she could go back into a boat, “Yes! Time of my life! Lived again!”

No, this wasn’t like bumper cars (but on the water in boats) but it kind of looks like it in this picture!


Some of us needed a little direction in paddling back to shore! Thanks to our yellow canoe full of expertise!


Everyone pitched in when it was time to pack up. Little muscles and big helped carry canoes to the vans.


Life jackets? Check! Paddles? Check! Lock it up! Little helpers learning from Take a Hike students (who now know how it all works!)


Thank you to the staff and students for a wonderful day and another “first” for our outdoor education experiences! Now we can paddle a boat, hike up a “mountain” and walk on the snow! There is nothing like getting outside and learning something new. And wow, is there power in Grade 12 students working with primary students to teach, “You can do this!”

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