Discovery 10: Blooming in The Wild
By Howie Wang
For some, it sounds cliche to hear the words one will “grow” and “become mentally stronger” without actually knowing what that means, especially teenagers; however, being a part of Discovery 10 is truly that experience no one ever could imagine.
The Discovery cohort boasts a plethora of activities - ranging from canoeing, hiking, kayaking, and even backcountry skiing. As one of the special cohorts offered in grade 10, Discovery offers an enriched course focusing on the outdoors, stewardship, and responsibilities as citizens. Throughout the year, the boys will have the opportunity to go on 50+ days of trips, approximately one each month, which all culminate into a 21-day end-of-the-year outing with a solo portion. Last year, the program faced challenges conducting its usual activities due to the restriction associated with COVID protocols, and the boys were limited to day trips. Unfortunately, eliminating overnight trips also meant that the year-end trip had to be cancelled, including the solo portion which many students regard as a rite of passage. However this year, things are back on track for the disco boys.
Part of being a Disco member means being a part of a team, as boys spend days together surviving in the wilderness. Students are required to think critically to solve problems, enhanced in an unconventional classroom where comfort levels are broken. Students can expect to build deep relationships with their fellow members, and cultivate leadership skills that can surpass those seen in the larger St. George’s student population.
The foundation also includes teachers who participate in the Discovery program. Teachers not only assist in setting up programs and enliven Discovery, but they also aim to challenge students and get to know them better. Teachers play a critical role in making Discovery a memorable experience for all students: they are the support that elevates these explorations and adventures, creating core memories for those involved. Incidentally, one of the main reasons why teachers are so enthusiastic is that they "have passion for being outdoors and taking students outdoors and introducing children to being outdoors safely" according to Mr. Siess.
The compassion and dedication that these teachers have for this program make it engaging and delightful in and of itself since they have dedicated themselves to helping students. Moreover, these teachers work to better learn and know their students by noting their strengths and shortcomings and gently pushing them to try new things. Teachers who are a part of Discovery can have another level of respect and compassion that very few student-to-teacher relationships offer. “It's hard to go out of the Sayward canoe trip and not have a care and respect for the people you went with,” said Mr. Siess.
Another reason why these teachers encourage and work in Discovery is to witness children's growth over time. Teachers, like parents, want to see their students succeed, grow, and learn essential values. Nothing is more emotionally inspiring than watching these students grow and develop throughout their time in Discovery. Every trip teaches students new life skills and values, which teachers appreciate seeing develop over time.
Discovery benefits not only students by teaching them life values and leadership abilities, but also teachers. Teachers love contributing to these experiences since the program allows them to create new moments with students, watch them grow and take on greater roles in the community, and become more resilient. Furthermore, guides and teachers have the opportunity to collaborate with each other, contributing to the overall sense and bringing talents to the table as on a trip. For example, lessons and activities sometimes have to be made on the spot-- especially during unfavourable situations-- and due to Discovery’s unique sense of collaboration among all teachers-- it is enlightening when multiple people teach different areas of their expertise.
Most importantly, the Discovery program is a transformative experience and is designed with the goal to help students grow. They are not only immersed in a wide variety of challenging outdoor pursuits in British Columbia, but will also make friends, and further develop knowledge in the wilderness. Discovery provides the students with a new environment away from the distractions of modern urban existence and allows their bodies, minds, and spirits to get a better understanding of their surroundings from a new perspective.
In this year-long opportunity, many students have developed a large multitude of knowledge, self-awareness, and tips and tricks to be strong leaders. The students benefit from a range of new skills such as refining their time management skills, conceptualizing risk and decision-making, connecting classroom learning with field trips, and even developing a personal environmental and social ethic. Past experiences in Discovery 10 have received nothing but a positive impact. Alumni Declan Burns (Class of 2019) said, “... it is moments like these that you remember forever.” Alumni Justin Del Negro (Class of 2019) also said that Discovery 10 was a, “really meaningful experience for me because I’ve always struggled with opening up myself and so when I saw other people were giving me the respect, trust, and empathy I needed and I realized that I could open up as well.”