Monday on the Mountaintop!

So what better way to spend a Monday than up on the mountaintop? Add some falling snow, some snowshoes, our favourite big buddies from Take a Hike and we’ve got lots of reasons to smile! Cypress Mountain felt like the top of the world!


It kind of went like this . . . 

Put on the snowshoes and head up and up and up. Big buddies and little buddies were supposed to be sticking together. And that happened (mostly). There was some coaxing and some chasing. But we kept smiling!


Get some rosy cheeks and keep smiling!


Stop to celebrate along the way! We walked a long ways up!


If you took a little longer getting to the top, celebrate a little bigger! 


Head back down – this time knowing where we are going!


Stop to smile! (and savour the view!)


Sometimes you need to go back up a few times so . . .


You can go down! Wheee! 


Let your smile show how you felt about the day!


And remember, you are never too old to smile big! Take a Hike seniors were troopers! Thanks for all the help guys!


Water, water everywhere!

Today was hardly a day when you would look outside through the clouds, mist and rain and think, “What a perfect day for the beach!” But this is Vancouver. Rain is what it does here. And . . . we had a much anticipated field trip with our big buddies from John Oliver’s Take a Hike program. So for Division 5, today was a day where we did think “Beach Day!”

The Take a Hike vans picked us up at recess and we drove out to UBC to head down many sets of stairs to reach the beach! When we were at the bottom, one of my students said,”Something here is making my leg shake. It won’t stop and I’m not doing it. Really.” His big buddy explained to him about muscle exertion! We certainly got our daily physical activity today!

The Take a Hike staff brought along buckets and the rain did not curtail our big plans for scouring the beach for treasure. Boots, raincoats and buckets! We were set.

Not only did we find treasures on the beach but we were lucky enough to spot seals out in the ocean and various sea birds flying overhead or landing together on the water. Logs were the perfect look out spots.

With nobody else on the beach, we had huge expanses of sand to do some writing in. Little buddies and big buddies wrote each other’s names.

We found shells, pieces of driftwood, crab legs and even a bracelet!

It was certainly very wet! But who needs sun? There was sand for sinking in, puddles to splash in, and rocks to scramble over!

And the smiles persisted. These girls found a coconut. So how did that end up on the beach? Was it left at a picnic? Did it travel across the ocean? We wonder!

When it was time to go, we had a lot of stairs to climb back up. Everyone was wet and cold. But the energy was positive. A few of us needed some distraction. Walk ten steps and do a wiggle. Stretch breaks. Ask your buddy to carry your bucket. Whatever worked. We all got up those stairs in record time. And because we still got to hang out with our buddies, everyone was happy!

After close to three hours in the rain, we headed back to the vans to drive back to school.

Some moments I wish I had captured on film? The Take a Hike student wringing out the socks of a little seven year old who had splashed a little too enthusiastically near the ocean. The Senior student who by the top of the steps had numerous buckets and a back pack or two in tow and still managed to hold the hand of a Grade 2 boy who was shivering. The big buddies who told me “This kid is the best!” about ten times. The boys who stood on the rocks and pointed out airplanes, possible seals and interesting birds on the ocean and the little buddies who stood beside them and asked over and over, “Where?” “That?” “Really?”.

We had water from our drenched hats and hoods down to our soggy socks. It was cold. And it didn’t stop raining until we were on route to the vans. But what did I hear on the way out the door today?

When do we get to see those guys again?”



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!”

The More Mud the better!

What an amazing day Division 5 had with staff and students from John Oliver’s Take a Hike Program! We went to Deep Cove and hiked through the rain and mud to Quarry Rock.

It was fun to trek up steps, across bridges and over tree roots.

Across bridges we went

Despite a lot of rain, our smiles beamed through!


Reaching the top gave us this beautiful view!

The view from here is pretty amazing

The view from here is pretty amazing

An hour through the rain and mud made us pretty proud. We climbed a mountain!

Success! We did it!

We love the Take a Hike students. Always smiling and always encouraging!

Our hiking tour guides!

Our hiking tour guides!

For many of us, this was the first time ever in a forest. In fact when we were doing the poll, “How many people have ever been to a forest?” one child said: “This is a forest?!” Yippee for first time experiences!

Trees, even burnt ones, offer many stories . . .

Trees, even burnt ones, offer many stories . . .

After eating lunch on the top of Quarry Rock, we needed to head back down. We spotted a large black bird swooping in to eat our lunch crumbs.

Mr. M and Sergio watching the bird on the edge of the rock

Mr. M and Sergio watching the bird on the edge of the rock

We finished our day sitting on the grass in Deep Cove. Everyone got to share their favourite part of the day and how they were feeling out of 10. Some highlights of the day included: “climbing a mountain,” “seeing a waterfall,”  “singing a song together,” and “being out in nature.” A beautiful day. Rain and mud didn’t make it any less wonderful!

Our circle on the grass

Our circle on the grass

Riding home in the vans . . .

Sergio: “I’ve climbed two mountains now.”

Ms. Gelson: “Really? Which ones?”

Sergio: “I just climbed one now. And when we went with them to Cypress in the snow.”

Read about our other mountain adventure here.

Thanks again to the Take a Hike students and staff for taking us to “mountains” we never thought we’d climb!

Snow shoes, mountains, and wet feet!

Division 5 got to put on snow shoes and hike up the mountain at Cypress with staff and students from John Oliver’s Take a Hike Program.

Let's see how wet we can get before we even put on snowshoes!

Let’s see how wet we can get before we even put on snowshoes!

Snow shoes on and up we go!


A beautiful way to spend a Monday! We learned there really is snow on those mountains we often see from school and no, this is not the North Pole!

Lots of white! Gorgeous!

Lots of white! Gorgeous!

Some other important learning: Each tree is surrounded by a hole. If one of us gets stuck down that hole, someone else might too. Of course we all had to try that theory out!

Around those trees? Holes!

Around those trees? Holes!

On the climb, it got hot! Layering is key! And thank goodness for juice boxes and water bottles!

Steeper than it looks!

Steeper than it looks!

Best way down? On your bottom!



Eventually we had to walk. Some of us had more snow in our boots than around our boots. Many wet socks, cold toes and rosy cheeks. But big smiles persisted! No crying, lots of laughing and this question repeated: “Can we come here again?”

Down to the vans. What a day!

Down to the vans. What a day!

Best post field trip conversation:

Sergio: “It was so great. I saw heaven.”

Catriona: “Sergio, it actually wasn’t heaven.”

Sergio: “Well we were above the clouds.”

A big thank you to the staff and students from the Take a Hike program who took us on a winter wonderland adventure on a beautiful February day full of sunshine!