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School of Continuing Studies | University of Toronto

The Canadian Experience

It’s that time of year again! Winter Camping! Two winters ago, I partook in one of ELP’s most popular activities and had an unforgettable experience with ELP students. This is an article I wrote that winter about what you can expect from Winter Camping. Don’t miss out!

The Canadian Experience

For three days and two nights, the students of ELP were taken on a journey of a lifetime: Winter Camping at Wanakita. Where are you going to get another chance to play soccer in heaps of powdery snow? And where are you going to find the gear and players to play broomball? In case you were wondering, broomball is a Canadian (and also Swedish) ice game that is similar to ice hockey. The difference is that broomball players do not wear ice skates, and the sticks and ball are different from ice hockey. If you think about it, I guess the only similarity between ice hockey and broomball is that they are both played on ice and the purpose of the game is to score the ball/puck into the opponent’s net! When night fell, students were taken over to a nice, warm fire where we told a true ghost story about a boy named Peter. If you want to find out about what happened to Peter, you are just going to have to come to Wanakita yourself! The highlight of this evening, however, was not the cold or the interesting winter activities, or the scary stories, it was those things that were shining down on us. The sky was so clear that I swear I could see all of the stars in the universe! And so the first evening came to an end.

ELP student get ready to slide down the hills at Winter Camp

ELP student get ready to slide down the hills at Winter Camp

The second day was much warmer (it snowed all day) and it was filled with even more Canadian activities. Students had the opportunity to go cross-country skiing, ice skating on the lake, snowshoeing, and tackle the high ropes. There were many brave souls who successfully made it to the top in the high ropes course! Students who brought their own ice skates also had the opportunity to skate on the lake. The second day ended with another campfire. This time, instead of telling ghost stories, students made s’mores and sang songs in their languages. The cultures represented by ELP came together and beautifully ended the final night at Wanakita.

The last day at Wanakita was spent tobogganing and tubing. Many students have said that this was their favorite activity. I mean, how could you not enjoy sliding down a pile of snow at warp speed? It was hard to believe that three days of winter camping had already come to an end. It was not only a way to get away from school work and the stress (and excitement) that comes with learning a new language, it was also the best way to experience Canada.

ELP students live and study in the heart of Canada: Toronto. Multiculturalism is one of the things Toronto is known for. As soon as you step foot at Pearson International, you will likely notice that there are people from all over the world (not only because it is an airport). The downside to being in the city is that you do not get the full Canadian experience. What does that mean? Sure, we know that Canada is known for maple syrup, maple candies, the Maple Leafs, and everything else maple, but where is the nature part of Canada? Students who participated in winter camping had the opportunity to live and breathe nature (even if it was only for three days). You will not be able to build a campfire and sing songs in different languages or play unique Canadian sports like broomball or go snowshoeing in the woods in downtown Toronto. Where in Toronto are you going to be able to look up at night and see many of the stars in our universe? Where are you going to be able to spend quality time with Canadians (and the most wonderful Cultural Assistants) and learn a little something about Canada outside of the classroom? And where are you going to find multiple cultures sitting on one big yellow school bus? The answer: Only. At. Winter Camping.

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