By Mark Pearmain, Superintendent, North Vancouver School District
Walking along the Cheakamus River, the freshness of the April spring morning is invigorating. The sound of excited children flows from both longhouse and Outdoor School. There is a feeling of renewal with the change of the seasons and a sense of positive energy. Cheakamus Centre has been undergoing much revitalization, and the efforts and momentum are creating tangible results.
Here is a snapshot of the renewal initiatives underway:
1. Creating Cozy Cabins project – The cabins at Cheakamus Centre are central to the student experience. Dating back to 1950, the cabins were in major need of upgrades. Renovations to cabins five and six are now complete. Renovations to cabins one through four are slated for this year. The upgrades are improving comfort for students, increasing energy efficiency, and enhancing accessibility. A partnership with BCIT enabled cabins five and six to receive full energy efficiency makeovers. Cabin one will be another BCIT partner project. Please click HERE to find out more about the renovations.
2. New mattresses for the teacher cabin are on the way! The goal to replace all of the cabin mattresses this year. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated so everyone can rest easy.
3. New food – The food at Cheakamus Centre has been transformed under Chef Wade's guidance. There is always some new vegetable on the menu to support the healthy eating food program at the centre. The centre grows much of its own produce, and a Farm to School grant is supporting expanded garden beds and greenhouse equipment. Students regularly come away from their Cheakamus Centre experience wanting to know how to recreate Chef Wade's recipes at home. Look for the Chef Wade cookbook in the future!
4. The Environmental Learning Centre and longhouse access roadway will be getting upgraded this year.
5. Canoe pond boardwalk improvements – Thanks to a $10,000 grant from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, improvements to the canoe pond boardwalk will soon be underway. The project will greatly improve the esthetics and functionality of the boardwalk as an outdoor learning and gathering space for our students and visitors.
6. Curriculum enhancements – The Cheakamus Centre instructional team are excited to share recent curriculum updates to the Outdoor School program. New planning resources and instructional materials are helping to build connections to student learning – before, during and after students' program experience. These innovative and engaging instructional resources will soon be available on the North Vancouver School District's online Curriculum Hub.
7. Friends of Cheakamus – The Friends of Cheakamus program has expanded and continues to grow. This year, First Sunday events for Friends of Cheakamus members was launched. Themed walk and talks run the first Sunday of most months through December 1, 2019. Turnout has been excellent thus far, and the feedback from participants is great.
8. Many new volunteer programs are now in place, offering plenty of opportunities to enjoy the exquisite Cheakamus Centre property while giving back.
9. Upcoming events:
- 50th Open House – A '70s themed family and community event is being held on Sunday, May 5, 2019, from 10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Cheakamus Centre. Everyone is invited.
- Professional learning day for elementary staff – Placed-based inquiry: Promising practices and inspiring possibilities. Monday, May 6, 2019 from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. (from North Vancouver, school bus return transport from Carson Graham Secondary provided). Join elementary teachers, mentors and community partners for a full-day of place-based, experiential learning at Cheakamus Centre in Brackendale. We'll spend the day immersed in place, inquiry and indigeneity as we share promising practices and explore inspiring possibilities. Lunch and snacks will be provided. $65 per person. Click HERE for more information and to register.
- River Feast - An exclusive dining experience hosted by the Cheakamus Foundation in support of environmental education for youth is being held on June 09, 2019 from 5:00pm – 8:00pm on the banks of the Cheakamus River. Join us for a multi-course paired menu featuring local, seasonal fare. For more information and tickets, click HERE.
Revitalization and renewal efforts are re-energizing Cheakamus Centre! We look forward to welcoming your children and students to the Longhouse, Outdoor School and Secondary School Counselling programs. The learning spurred from these programs is powerful and everlasting.
Established in 1969, Cheakamus Centre is an overnight field school and environmental studies facility located on 165 hectares (420 acres) of ecological reserve in Paradise Valley, Brackendale. This Centre is owned by the North Vancouver School District and offers a wide variety of experiential environmental and cultural programs to children and adults from the Sea to Sky corridor, lower mainland, and beyond. The flagship Outdoor School program includes field studies, youth leadership, outdoor recreation, and other direct experiences in nature intended to instill in learners a sense of respect and appreciation for the natural world. The Skw'une-was indigenous education program for Gr. 3 students is an immersive overnight experience based out of the centre's traditional Coast Salish longhouse.