From the Wee Ones

Katrina, Grade 3
Did you know that I loved it yesterday? My favourite was tree-hugging because I love using my five senses but licking the tree wasn’t yummy. I also remember 1. clay 2. silt, 3. sand 4. gravel. It was really fun learning.

Alexander, Grade 3
Thank you for teaching us about soil and plants. It was the best time I ever had in my life!

William, Grade 3
Thank you for teaching us about soil and trees. I got to hug a tree, smell a tree and even lick a tree!

From the Students

Samantha, Grade 6, Sir Albert Love
Dear Ganaraska Staff. Thank you for giving me the experience of a life time. I very much appreciate (teacher) Ali helping me to overcome my fears in the forest. She showed me that at night the forest is actually very cool. Now I don’t need to be scared and now I can be brave and enjoy the forest. I really appreciate you all putting up with us for 2.5 days.

Ricky, Grade 6, Plainville Public
My favourite activity was skiing in the forest. The group and I had to go through snow and over hills. The group and I fell a lot going through the forest but we got up again and again. There was small, medium and large hills but we got back to the Ganaraska Forest Centre and had lunch. That was my favourite activity.

Annie, Grade 6, Sir Albert Love
I had an amazing time doing the Night Hike. I would make it longer. Because we got to know you and you got to know us, we all had such a hard time leaving so maybe you could extend the staying time to 4 or 5 days (I would say 5). You really made this trip and if it wasn’t for you then we wouldn’t have been able to go. You really know how to teach because the people that don’t always listen when (our teacher) is teaching, listened. I take my hat off for the chefs for all the amazing food! The facility was great. It was really easy to get around. This was a really amazing education experience and your humour just topped it off more. Thank you so, so much for this tip and I hope that you loved us coming as much as we loved being there!

Braiden, Grade 6, Plainville Public
I had a great time at the Ganaraska Forest. The Night Hike was my favourite activity. At the Night Hike I was blind as a bat. We played a game and did some calls – and not phone calls. We got to hear a barred owl. After the Night Hike I was dead tired, so when I went to bed I fell asleep right away. I’m glad we got to go to the Ganaraska Forest Centre for our trip.

Fiza, Grade 8
It’s really cool because I love science. I love nature as well. Just getting out here, out of the classroom with my classmates and discovering things and learning things is really good. I like it more when I learn things and then get to do them. I get to experience them which is something really fun.

Jordan, Grade 8
This is way cooler than I thought. It’s a pretty cool opportunity seeing different kinds of species of water animals. I have no clue what some of them are. If you’re just looking at it in a book, then it’s just a picture, right. But when you are up close and personal and you see it in the water swimming around, you can see how it likes to swim and you have the opportunity to see what it actually is. It’s a different learning opportunity.

Courtice SS

This project is more hands-on than my classroom work. I was shocked that I was given the chance to make anything. Today I learned a lot about my skills to be able to create ideas that can bring a change to our society today or in the future.

Grace, Grade 8
My favourite part was when we all collaborated with each other and listened to other ideas when we were building the dam. It was also shocking because I didn’t expect it to be so hard to make the water level lower.

Kaylie, Grade 8
I really enjoyed this way of learning because it was a lot more interactive and I had the chance to learn about what’s right in front of me instead of reading textbooks and watching videos plus taking notes. This information will stay in my head a lot longer because I was right there watching and learning and I enjoyed this.

Brady, Grade 8
I loved learning this way. It was 1000 times better than working in the classroom and I learned a lot more than I would in the classroom.

Emmett, Grade 8
This is more fun and ‘rememberable’! You actually experience the river.

Colby, Grade 8
I strongly preferred this way of learning because I felt that I retained more information while having fun.

Morgan, Grade 8
I liked how we learned certain skills, and played games with them (ex. Hunger games or the whole race). I was able to get a better understanding and I had lots of fun. I think that everything I learned was important because it will all relate to me in the real world.

Kayie, Grade 8
I think that what I enjoyed the least about this project was the fact that it only lasted 3 days.

Meghan, Grade 8
I would tell them that they need to be prepared for anything because I was taken off guard by some things we did. I would give them the knowledge of always listening because they tell you a lot that you will need to know later.

Emily Grade 8
How to make sure that our rivers are safe in pollution, dangerous bacteria, and floods. Also how floods work, how to be ready for them, and how humans deal with flooding.

Kate, Grade 8
I learned how to measure water discharge and how to use a GPS. These are skills I will remember because I will remember using them in the race. I think using the skills I learned in an event situation really helped me to understand, learn, and have a solid knowledge of how to do these thing.

Jacob, Grade 6
The most shocking moment was to discover how much invasive species there were along our trail. Some sections were covered in the vines. You could see how hard it was for the plants that were supposed to be living there. My least favorite part was that it wasn’t an overnight trip. This just wasn’t long enough!

Savannah, Grade 8
My favourite memory was my group and I getting the marbles out of the ice water with our toes. It was really cold but you didn’t want to stop. It was so funny!

Latisia, Grade 8
I was shocked that I learned so much while having fun in the water!

From the Teachers

David, St Francis de Sales
OK, the barred owl experience was a Night Hike #1 hit. Fantastic! Thanks for your upbeat, encouraging, and professional approach to teaching, modeling, organizing, and interacting with the students, staff, and parent group from St Francis.

Mariza, St Alphonsus CES    
What a fantastic day! My gang had so much fun and are still talking about it. I revealed our team winner today and they received beaded friendship bracelets from me for being the winners. They thought that was cool. Some of them are still grumbling about how I ripped them off which is awesome.

You were a great leader for our day. The kids loved your sense of humour and they learned a lot. Thank you for your time and for running such an awesome program. I will be recommending the Traders and Trappers game to others.

Sandra, St. Gregory CES
We had SUCH a FANTASTIC time at the Centre.  The kids LOVED it!!!  They had so much fun, and learned so much.  Everything about the Centre – leaders, lodging, activities, food, etc. is top notch!!!

The students were completely engaged at all times, and the teachers Ali, Aaron, and Ryan  turned every moment into a learning experience like talking about where our food comes from at dinner, and the impact it has on the environment, to the waste collected after dinner and how it should be properly disposed of – even turning it into a game so that the kids left practically nothing on their plates!

The two hour night hike was one of the highlights for the kids.  Many expressed anxiety about being in the woods at night, but after they were all so proud of themselves.  The next night, during our campfire, we heard coyotes calling and for many, this too was something they won’t soon forget! The kids were singing their campfire songs on the way home, and they all want to come back!

Each activity was so well planned and facilitated, and I know every student learned a great deal! The teachers were truly amazing! We returned with many great ideas to share with our school community, and can’t wait to get started!

A special thank you to Ali, Ryan, and Aaron [GFC instructors] – you teach the learning that stays with the kids forever.  They won’t soon forget you or all of the special activities that obviously took a tonne of time to initially prepare for the students.  

I can’t thank you enough for giving us this experiential learning opportunity that I know the students will never forget!

Susan, Our Lady of Fatima
The quality of the program and the activities, and the expertise and professionalism of the teachers made this truly the best experience I have ever had with a class in my 30 years of teaching. My students recognized that not only did they come away with a sense of commitment to improving our school community, but also a closer bond with each other. I cannot think of anything that needs to be improved.

Teresa, St. Marguerite d’Youville
This trip was an unforgettable experience. Students were begging to stay. This type of programming should be embedded throughout the curriculum consistently. It allowed for all kinds of students to get involved and learn in a variety of ways.

Nicole, Sacred Heart
This trip inspired the students to want to teach others. Their awareness increased. The wanting to share their learning and their excitement to teach younger students and to develop the butterfly garden was all because of the experience that they received. They decided to choose the youngest students in the school and taught them about the importance of reducing their eco-footprint and protecting the bio-diversity of our schoolyard. I totally noticed a decrease in the waste at lunch time in our room.

Rick, Monsignor Phillip Coffey
Having the opportunity to live what they were learning was invaluable.

Geraldine, Sir Albert Love
This trip is one the students will remember for the rest of their lives. Almost every aspect of the trip came back to environmental stewardship; both near and far.

Melanie, Holy Cross CSS
This was awesome! All of us (students and teachers alike) had a great time today! Thank you to Aaron, Meg, and everyone who makes the programs happen. All of the programming tied in perfectly with the curriculum for sure. You all provide a fantastic experience for students.

Hasanka, Vimy Ridge
Thank you so very much for making our visit memorable. I can say with no exaggeration that this was one of the best -- if not the best -- of the school trips I've been on. I truly appreciate the wonderful content provided by all the staff, and as for the have heated floors!
I know I speak for my colleagues when I say that the Ganaraska Forest experience has left an indelible impression on us.

Karen, Castlemore PS
Thank you all for a wonderful three days away!  Your team runs an amazing program!  Our students were all fully engaged and stimulated! I know they will remember their time at Ganaraska fondly for many years to come.

Camborne PS
Our stay was fantastic! From the moment we arrived to the end of the program we felt so welcome and comfortable. The food was top-notch.

The Outdoor Education program is a wonderful experience and exposes the students to important issues in our environment.

Andrew Hunter PS
The students were highly, highly engaged. This fit the need of our students and they were kept busy the whole time and tuckered out at the end. The students will take home a whole load of new information.

Fleming College

Amazing Staff that help support students and staff with all needs, including anxious moments during night hike!

Prince Albert PS

The staff was very friendly, knowledgeable and organized. This is a fantastic facility with delicious food, lots of variety and great accommodation of food allergies.

Msgr Phillip Coffey
Our instructors were outstanding! Could not have asked for better. Great organization, smooth transitions, educationally strong and relevant, engaging, fun and challenging. Excellent educational value. Thanks for a great three days!

Immaculate Conception
Absolutely outstanding. It honestly couldn’t have been more enjoyable for the students and teachers. We were all super impressed with your gorgeous facility. AWESOME! We’ve never experienced a trip like this before. Fantastico!

Sacred Heart
Not sure you can improve on perfection!

From the SHSM Leads

Just wanted to reach out and say thanks for the work that you do connecting with students and making them feel like valued partners in their learning and education.

Students in SHSM loved working with you and the video created really shows the connection and enjoyment had by all from your presence, instruction and leadership.

It would be great to connect with you and collaborate on ways to get more students, schools and staff involved.

Thanks again for all that you and to all staff at Ganaraska for engaging students in outdoor and experiential education.

Lisa, Holy Trinity CSS
Thank you again for the great camp this week!  The kids all arrived to school this morning with big smiles on their faces and stories to tell their friends.

Christina, Regiopolis-Notre Dame CHS
Thank you so much! The group had a good time and learned lots. I will definitely be recommending Ganaraska Forest Centre for SHSM certifications. Thank you again.

Anonymous, OTU
Two words: Experiential Learning. I have gained many soft-skills from this course that will help me later in life. More so than any other course. What we experienced and learned cannot be taught in a classroom.


Anonymous, OTU
I can easily say this trip was the highlight of my career as a university student at OnTechU. Developing relationships with my classmates and professor made me feel so connected to the school that I belong to and built my confidence as an individual.

Anonymous, OTU
There are no words to describe the Ganaraska trip, all words seem underwhelming and inadequate to describe how exhilarating the entire experience was. Phenomenal. Everyone who has a chance to experience this, NEEDS to experience this. Every little task and event stood out and was essential. I can't pinpoint my favourite moments: from times that were on schedule and we had to do tasks or from the free moments where my classmates and I connected on a personal level, simply enjoying life. I definitely feel like an emotionally stronger and empathetic person after this trip; the listening tasks were essential to this growth. Not only did we learn togetherness and trust, we learned self-love too. I feel almost homesick leaving it all behind (sorry for being dramatic, but even this is an understatement to how great the trip was).

Anonymous, OTU
I loved this trip. There were so many elements that taught us something different. The group activities were designed to make us drop our guard. We could not be successful if we didn't. Actively trusting each other and stepping out of our comforting zones was so empowering and we saw, perhaps for the first time, how much we all were alike despite our differences. It was fun. It was educational. It was deep. It was awesome. The perfect blend of joy and soul fulfillment.

Anonymous, OTU
I loved this trip. My entire experience in university is totally changed. I can't believe I could have graduated without it. I loved the night hike and the owl sounds we heard. We had to really listen, and the calls were amazing. I loved the mousetrap activity, which was a different kind of listening altogether. What I noticed by the end of the first day is that I never stopped smiling. I looked around and my classmates were too. I feel like we all came together as a group, and this was just the most special time. The staff (Aaron, Meg, Ryan) were all amazing too, so positive all the time and pushed us to do new things.

Anonymous, OTU
I really enjoyed the trip. The solo night hike stood out to me. It's amazing how sounds become amplified when you're alone and can't see clearly. The location was convenient, as it is not far from Oshawa. However, it still feels like you're really getting away and going somewhere far.

Anonymous, OTU
Yes! A million times yes. If I could go on this trip again I would. In my opinion, everything stood out about this trip. The place (Ganaraska), the professor, the food, and most importantly the activities. This trip was much needed. It was well run and thought out, with the perfect activities that brought me at peace while taking me away from my current stresses in the real world. The first night we had to trust our instructor, ourselves and our group as we walked in the forest in the dark with nothing but ourselves (no cellphones). Loved that. It was a new experience. That I had to trust myself, the place and the people around me. The next day we did low ropes; this activity gave me a bright idea to how difficult an activity may be but if you come together it can worked together and communicate properly and listen to one another the problem can be solved. On the last day (Thursday) we went on therapy hike, that illustrate the importance of nature/ the outdoors and how good it is for us to take in and appreciate. The Ganaraska instructor told us to sit alone, alone in our thoughts somewhere in the forest. I won't get into depth why that time alone meant so much to me but I believe it is important for everyone to develop time for themselves and listen to nature and themselves. I connected with inner self, on others and the world.

Anonymous, OTU
This trip was AMAZING. One of the best things I have ever experienced here at OnTechU. It was eye-opening, self-reflecting and extremely beneficial for communication. I talked to people I would've never before, I tried activities I would have never before and mainly was able to open up in a way like never before.

Anonymous, OTU
This is by far my favourite memory about school. To be honest I have had a tough experience with this school throughout my program, and I feel now that I have such a positive experience to share, my view on the school has changed. I wish there were more options like this, time for students to do this.

Anonymous, OTU
It was nice to learn in an environment outside the classroom and through an alternative method to three hour lectures. Throughout my years in CDMS, I've been feeling as though I have been taught the same things each year, by the same profs, and in the same rooms. This trip helped me be excited to learn again, and gave me the opportunity to learn through interacting and communicating with other students.

Anonymous, OTU
Please know that this was the best part of my university experience in my 5 years at Ontario Tech!

Anonymous, OTU
It was really good to have a hands on course and have activities that were interactive because not everyone learns the best in a lecture or performs well on tests and exams even if they know the material. This gives students who learn through a hands-on approach a chance to really absorb what they are learning.

Anonymous, OTU
I can’t express the gratitude I feel for this course. Not only do I feel this is a great course to relax the minds of STRESSED OUT STUDENTS, but I am astonished at the friends I came to make at Ganaraska. The councillors at the camp were far from boring. They were so high energy, I’d actually love to write them a thank you letter. I am extremely appreciative for what they did for me. I’m also very happy for one of my Classmates that really got outside his normal comfort zone and expressed his true self very openly with the group. At our last breakfast I had a conversation with him that really warmed my heart and came to see he really opened up to everyone by the end of our trip. I was emotional to see it come to an end. An exceptional trip to say the least.

On Community Building

Anonymous, OTU
This trip could not serve a better purpose. From my experience and communication with others I found that a lot of people seem to go to school and go home after their class. This trip forces people (in the most positive sense) to work together and get to know each other. Everyone I spoke with was astonished that this trip changed their outlook on the people they went to school with for 4 years. I’ve never seen some people get out of their comfort zone until this trip. Which says a lot because a lot of our program teaches people to get out of their comfort zones. I feel as though that never truly happens until this trip came.

Anonymous, OTU
The most significant thing that stands out to be about this trip is the opportunity to build relationships outside of class, and spend time with the people I have been sitting near for the last three years. In elementary school and high school your class is usually tight-knit, everyone knows everyone because there is space to get to know each other through 4-8 years of attending events, class trips, recess, lunch period, etc. Campus life for a student who commutes or doesn't live on campus lacks that community feel, especially within the downtown campus as it is segmented. This trip enhanced the feeling of community within our program, an important aspect in any social institution.

Anonymous, OTU
I have an anxiety disorder that makes attending classes very difficult. As such, I was still basically a stranger to my classmates even after 5 years in the program. And I can't believe that I can honestly write this, but I don't feel like a stranger anymore. I can't overstate how valuable this experience was for a student like me, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that thought. (About a quarter of all
Canadians will have an anxiety disorder in their lifetime; go figure.) I was so nervous going into this trip, but those nerves didn't persist past the first day because of the emphasis on kindness, support, and openness. Getting to class will be much easier for me going forward, now that I know that I'm going to be with friends.

Anonymous, OTU
Honestly, this trip and this course changed my ENTIRE outlook on Ontario Tech. I felt like I just came to class and then left, and there wasn't a sense of connection, especially downtown, which is isolated. Now I feel like I actually belong.

Anonymous, OTU
I have 33 friends now that I wouldn't have had otherwise. Now that I am back from this trip I feel kind of homesick for the closeness that we all shared. It was really special to see this one guy who is so quiet totally bust out (at the campfire night). That was wild.

On the Food and Accommodations

Anonymous, OTU
Amazing! I was overjoyed by 1. how beautiful the interior was 2. how accommodating the staff was 3. how they gave us SO much food SO often. It's impossible to starve there, even if you try.

Anonymous, OTU
The accommodations were fantastic! The food was great, there was always enough for more! The facility was very clean and well taken care of. The staff at Ganaraska were great, extremely nice and thoughtful.

Anonymous, OTU
I am the pickiest eater EVER. Like EVER. To keep it short, I eat like a 5 year old. I brought meal shakes in case I didn’t like the food. But pleasantly to my surprise, I didn’t drink a single one!

There was something for me at every meal! There was a nice change in food from meal to meal. And the thing I liked most was that each meal had 5 or 6 components to it, whether it be different types or flavours of food. This made it possible for me to choose at least 2 to 4 things per meal that I liked!

So to answer fairly, I am a picky eater, but I did like the food.

Anonymous, OTU
Excellent. We were warm, comfortable and well fed. The food was amazing and the centre did an excellent job of accommodating food and dietary restrictions. Also, there was coffee and tea available all day so I basically contemplated moving in.

Anonymous, OTU
The food was amazing! There were options for vegans, gluten-free people, and different options for everyone at every meal. I was very impressed with the variety of food and the quality of the food. The centre was very clean, and we slept comfortably there. I did not hear any complaints from anyone about the facilities.

Anonymous, OTU
The food was delicious and filling. There wasn’t a meal that I was disappointed with. The food/ chefs offered everything from a variety of salad to the main dish being different each meal. The chefs ensured that all allergies/ food restrictions were met. The chefs were friendly and made sure there was always seconds. The area that we slept in was comfortable and welcoming. The washrooms were clean and the educational instructors were welcoming and genuine too.