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Y1 report from Norval

Q: What has messy hair, knows how to swing a MacLeod tool, can identify two species of crayfish, can steer a canoe through rapids and smells like wet socks?

4The answer, of course, is a Year 1 student. All the Y1 classes are at Norval this week, and what a perfect week to be outdoors! It’s been a week full of adventurous activities, learning new skills, making new friends and self discovery. The Y1 boys have been fantastic this week. They’ve tackled new and challenging activities with enthusiasm and determination. They’ve laughed and played with each other. They’ve learned exciting skills such as how to steer a canoe, rappel off a cliff, create environmental art, build a mountain biking trail, start a campfire by rubbing sticks together and much more.

But there is more to the Norval Y1 trip than adventurous activities. For many boys, it’s a challenge to live outdoors for a full week. They include staying warm during cold nights; cooking meals over a camp stove or a wood fire; learning more about your classmates; and spending a full week without a cell phone or computer.

When I chat with the boys around the campfire at night, it seems each boy experiences the week differently. For every boy who found an activity like canoeing hard, another said it was easy. Some boys will say not having cell phones for the week is easy, while others find that very hard. Hopefully every boy has had the opportunity to stretch his boundaries and maybe learn something about himself in the process.

7As the week draws to a close, the boys are getting tired, but they seem proud of themselves. We’re proud of them too. We talk a lot at UCC about developing character and it was so rewarding for us to see that process of character building in action. I encourage you to get them to talk about the week, but don’t be surprised if it takes a little while at first. We did a lot of talking while they were here, so they may have used up a lot of their word quota. After you ask the general questions such as, “How was your week?” you might choose to ask questions like these:

• Tell me more about the activities. Which ones did you like best?
• Did any of the canoes in your group tip?
• How can you tell the difference between different types of crayfish?
• Tell me about the mountain biking trail you helped build. How do you build a trail along the side of a hill?
• What did it feel like as you were leaning back over the side of the cliff to start rappelling? What were you thinking?
• How did cooking your meals go? Any that you were proud of? Did you burn any of the meals?
• What did you do in the primitive skills program? That sounds cool.
• Is there anything from the equipment list you forgot to bring but wish you had?
• What did you learn about yourself/classmates/teacher that surprised you?
• They talk a lot at UCC about character and resiliency. Resiliency means the ability to recover readily from adversity, setbacks or challenges. So, you just had a week full of different kinds of challenges. How did it go? How can you learn from that for the next time you face that level of challenge?

1Of course, you’ll never use all these questions. They’re just suggestions in case you aren’t sure where to begin. I’m sure your conversations will take on a life all their own.

As you know, the Y1 Norval trip is the last extended overnight trip to Norval for your boys. Thank you for lending us your sons for one last week. On behalf of all the staff at Norval, please know that we feel lucky and privileged to be able to teach and get to know your sons over many years, some as far back as SK. (I confess, I am the “Winter Wizard!”)

It’s been also been very nice to meet the handful of new boys at Y1. We hope that the lessons learned at Norval will be lasting, positive and empowering.

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