On Sunday July 2, students and supervising teachers left Toronto for a canoe trip to Algonquin Park. It was part of an outdoor education program to bring city students out of their urban environment and face the challenges of the Canadian North. The students were from C.W. Jefferys C.I. and Westview Centennial S.S. of the Toronto District School Board. The students, as in canoe trips taken out in previous summers, could earn credits towards their secondary school graduation diploma. The program has been well received.
This year, however, tragedy came when one of the students, Jeremiah Perry, drowned while swimming in Big Trout Lake. His parents and his brother, who was also on the trip, were grief struck. A candle vigil was held and attended by students and parents of Jeremiah’s entire school community. His funeral on Monday July 17 at Revivaltime Tabernacle on Dufferin St. was full of compassion.
Let us go back two weeks from Jeremiah’s funeral to Sunday, July 2nd. Students, parents and teachers were gathering at their school for the Algonquin canoe trip sendoff. There was anticipation and excitement as there had been in previous years. I have shared this canoe trip sendoff excitement many times.
Actually, when I was Jeremiah’s age, I was on a canoe trip from a summer camp with other campers in this park. We canoed along rivers and across lakes; we portaged the canoes between them; we swam and made camp sites. We enjoyed the Canadian North.
The Canadian North with its rivers and forests has been the place where Canadians test their strength and ‘enduring metal’ since the early fur traders to today’s newcomers putting down their roots in our cities.
The question for administrators, the teachers who lead the trips and parents of the campers on trips, is what training do students need before they go on the trips and what level of supervision is necessary for trips of different difficulty levels.
Tom Kear, Managing Publisher