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Learning in the outdoors

VCS students gain wilderness skills

Posted 6/8/22

 ELY- About two dozen students from the Vermilion Country School in Tower received a hands-on chance to learn outdoor skills from experienced guides here in Ely recently. Friends of the Boundary …

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Learning in the outdoors

VCS students gain wilderness skills

Posted

 ELY- About two dozen students from the Vermilion Country School in Tower received a hands-on chance to learn outdoor skills from experienced guides here in Ely recently.
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness partnered with Spirit of the Wilderness outfitters to provide the all-day skills building course for the students in grades 7-12. The skills included canoe paddling, canoe portaging, and orienteering, and it was all held at Semer’s Park on Shagawa Lake on May 25. Students also had a chance to investigate some of the animal species that live here in the North Country. 
Students worked in small groups, rotating through a series of educational stations. At the portaging station, students worked together on a few team-building games before practicing their communication and teamwork as they portaged a canoe. They rotated to the next station, where they learned compass and map-reading skills, and used these to navigate around an orienteering course set up in the park. At the animal adaptations station, students gathered evidence on common Northwoods species and used this knowledge to identify animal artifacts. Finally, students had a chance to canoe the south bay of Shagawa Lake with help from guides from Spirit of the Wilderness outfitters, based in Ely. The day included a lunch at the Semer’s Park pavilion.
“Even with some light rain, the students fully embraced paddling and all of the Boundary Waters skills,” said Alison Nyenhuis, the Education Director for Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. “They brought such positive energy and asked great questions about the wilderness. We look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”
VCS Director Mary McGrane noted that the day fit well with Vermilion Country’s strong environmental education mission. “This activity day reinforced skills and knowledge we want our students to know, including map and compass skills, portaging a canoe and the teamwork needed to have a safe and enjoyable canoe trip, and solid canoe paddling etiquette. Hopefully, our school and Friends of the BWCA partnered to facilitate the next generation of young paddlers and stewards of our environment,” McGrane added.
The program was funded through the Friends of the Boundary Waters’ “No Boundaries to the Boundary Waters” program, which works with schools across the state to deliver a Boundary Waters curriculum to students at no cost to schools. In addition, the No Boundaries program provides scholarship opportunities for students from diverse and underserved communities to go on weeklong Boundary Waters adventures in the summer.
Funding for the No Boundaries to the Boundary Waters program was provided by the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. For more information on the program or to get your school signed up, visit www.friends-bwca.org/outdoor-education

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