As the students in grades 6 –12 immerse themselves in the myriad of activities at  Strathcona, I am reminded of the importance of experiential learning and stepping out of your comfort level to experience new things in an environment that is not confined by the four walls of a classroom.  Even our younger learners will spend a majority of their time outside this week while visiting a number of local parks and campsites in Greater Victoria.  Outweek at SMS has reached the milestone of 30 years which we hope to showcase in our next SPIRIT magazine.  I look forward to reflecting on the success stories and seeing pictures of the girls’ adventures upon their return to school.

Outweek is the cornerstone of our experiential learning program, and aims to provide a wide range of activities that help the girls learn about natural science, geography, environmental studies, outdoor living skills, group development, and adventure living.  All of these experiences align with our goal to help our girls build confidence, competence, and capacity – essential skills to becoming self-reliant and learning how to push beyond their comfort levels.

The nature of the opportunities the girls experience truly embrace the goals of the Strategic Plan, providing our girls with the chance to extend student learning outside of the classroom and into the outdoors.  Our girls are provided with unique and diverse educational experiences that hopefully help them develop positive self-esteem, increase connections with nature and service, and finally, practice courage. My hope is that upon their return to school, every one of them will have experienced the benefits of Outweek and come back stronger, more capable, and empowered.

We encourage our girls to try new things, feel the discomfort, and be satisfied with their efforts recognizing that sometimes the most lasting lessons come from learning from our failures. When girls are provided with a safe environment to take risks, learn from their mistakes, and keep trying until they get it, we help them build their capacity to embrace new opportunities for exploration in the future. Sometimes a change in the environment can be the impetus for attempting something new and just enjoying the experience for no other reason than just trying!   It is the journey of exploration and not the actual accomplishment that has the greatest influence on a person’s sense of worth.