McNair Mini School’s Grade 8 Cycling Trip on Saltspring Island

McNair Mini School’s Grade 8 Cycling Trip on Saltspring Island

The first day of the trip started out cold and wet but that sure wasn’t going to get this group down.  After a month of bicycle training and practice rides (one to Dairy Queen!), the class was ready to take on the ever-popular Saltspring Island Cycling Trip, the Spring Trip dreaded by many but loved by all.

In a nutshell, the trip starts out at the Ladner McDonalds with a short ride to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal.  From there, it is a ferry ride to Long Harbour on Saltspring Island where they cycling continues to Ruckle Park.  In total, the students and staff will cover approximately 95 kilometers over the two and half day trip.  In addition, students are expected to plan, prepare, and cook all their meals at the campsite that also must include foods from the four main groups.

From the staff point of view, this trip was simply great.  The group tackled the hills of Saltspring Island with tenacity and were thoroughly engaged in their outdoor education opportunity.  The motto of the McNair Mini School is the “Push the Envelope” and students did have many chances to do so.  If you have ever been to Saltspring Island, there are hills, and hills, and more hills!  One of the pre-trip conversations goes a little like this:

When facing one of the many hills, look at it like another challenge.  Your only goal is climb as far up the hill as you can.  There is a huge difference between stopping at the bottom of the hill and walking your bike up the entire way, and cycling up as far as you can until you finally must put your feet down to walk.  You may find the hills difficult, and you may even surprise yourself!

Have a look at what the students had to say about their experience below:

Every activity met my expectations in a different way.  For example, the hike helped me realize the beauty of nature and the upward hills helped me realize its challenges when biking.  I learned that I’m also an incredibly competitive person and after every person would pass me on their bike, I slowly learned that not everything’s a race.  The only person you need to race against is yourself and that’s the best reward you can achieve.

On this trip I learned many things.  I learned to pitch a tent, cook my own food, and how to deal with being wet.  But above all, I learned a few things about myself.  One was that I actually enjoy camping.  I thought I wouldn’t like it because I had never been before but as it turns out, I quite enjoyed it.  Also I learned if I want something enough, I can do it.  On the last day I really wanted to go all the way without getting off my bike.  I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it when I saw the hills, but after I kept telling myself to keep going, I went all the way without stopping.

Showing one of the ‘locals‘ (yes, that is a slug!) a little bit of affection!

I have learned that I follow my parents in many ways like in cooking or personality and that I can actually cook.  I found that if I push myself I can accomplish what I want to and that it’s alright to let people pass you because you do everything at your own pace.  I learned that I rely on my parents too much on things I could do and that I need to laugh more.

I learned that you shouldn’t sweat the little things and to not complain about everything because it brings the mood of everybody down when you complain.  I learned that if something goes wrong, not to make a big deal about it.  To push myself more is another thing I learned and the life’s not a race and sometimes you need to go at your own pace whether it is faster or slower than everybody else.  I learned that I can fix bikes and that I’m better at cooking than I give myself credit for.  I think that this trip really taught me a lot and that I became a better person from this experience.

We are so proud of our Grade 8 class and their performance on the trip.  Until next year!!!


About bsoong

Vice Principal at Gladstone Secondary School in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Son, husband and father. Sports and movie fan.
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