Jennifer Ritchie’s students are happy campers – despite planning trips at a time when available tent and trailer sites in Manitoba are hard to find before another summer of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Looking for a creative way to distract their 7/8 grade both virtually and from the challenges of distance learning, Ritchie asked her students to create an itinerary for an overnight trip to a local park.
Middle school students must look up various provincial parks and permits, plan camping meals, and make shopping lists that include price tags for all the items necessary for their stay in the wild. During this week, the school groups will give their classmates a presentation about their imaginary journeys.
“I have 27 children and many of them have never gone camping so they don’t know what’s on offer in the province,” says Ritchie, who is both a class teacher at Winnipeg’s Frontenac School and an avid camper.
“A couple of them have said they want to find out how they can get their families camping now.”
Ritchie said her intention is to use the project to cover numerous curriculum areas and skills – research, critical thinking, writing, synthesizing information, social studies, geography, and math – while also teaching students how to use booking systems and parking cards navigated. At the time, she did not know how enthusiastic her students would be about the project.
A trio of 8th grade friends convinced their teacher to let them choose Riding Mountain National Park instead of a provincial site for their stay – partly because the Northern Lights are visible from the park and they want to take photos of the scenic landscape.
So far, Shafia Razzaq, Petrinah Mukendi, and Ushna Gull have decided to pack marshmallows, cameras, and a nine-person tent for maximum comfort on their mock weekend camping trip, which is estimated to cost around $ 2,000.
Petrinah said that exercise planning is important so students are aware of any things they will need to bring, such as packaged snacks that do not attract animals to a campsite when they are camping.
Since she has never camped before, the 14-year-old wants to convince her family to camp together in the future.
“Some people think Manitoba is a really boring place, but it’s not,” said Ushna, 14, after researching various parks in the province. “There is a lot of beauty here in Manitoba. I’ve lived here in Manitoba for eight years and have not yet explored all of Manitoba. ”
During an unpredictable school year with many students currently sharing electronic devices and caring for their siblings at home, Ritchie has spoken extensively with her students about mental health and wellbeing.
“My hope is that there will be an opportunity for outdoor exploration close to home that is accessible and within reach. If they choose to, I want them to have the skills, ”she said, adding that this summer students will be able to help their parents navigate park websites and organize park visits, even if only for a day trip.
Manitoba Parks completed its busiest series of opening days in the history of the province this year.
On the first three days of introduction, a total of 72,845 campsite reservations were booked this spring, more than twice as many or 117 percent more than last year – a record year before 2021.