Educators across the valley will be able to take advantage of a different resource next year as Fairmont Hot Springs Resort is holding a kickoff celebration this week for its brand new BC Rockies School of Nature.
“Our real mission is just to get more kids outside,” said BC Rockies School of Nature Outdoor Education Co-ordinator and Curriculum Director Kristen Idiens.
Based out of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, the BC Rockies School of Nature aims to generate healthy lives by providing first and lifelong connections to the natural environment. The school will provide a wide range of programs including bushcraft re-skilling, survival skills, cooking in the outdoors, geocaching, animal tracking, orienteering and much more alongside curriculum matched programs for educators and classes that provide a more concrete educational aspect. Curriculum matched programs are also tailored to individual age groups from kindergarten to Grade 12.
Idiens said it was their goal to have a good mix of curriculum-based educational programs and outdoor programs, and that they recommend combining the two to offer a full-day experience.
“I’m really looking forward to being able to give teachers and students opportunities to get out in a safe environment and learn a little bit about what this area has to offer,” Idiens said. “I feel like with all the indoor activities and video games and things like that, kids are forgetting to appreciate what’s around them, and so it’s a great opportunity to share our enthusiasm and excitement and passion for the outdoors.”
The School of Nature will run during the school year to avoid any conflicts with guests at the resort and to allow the program to take advantage of a greater range of facilities and services. The school will be staffed by current employees of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort BC Rockies Adventures, however Idiens said teachers will have the option of leading a program by themselves.
Either way, students will have 2,400 acres of resort property to explore including mountains, the headwaters of the Columbia River, wetlands, and Canada’s largest hot mineral pools.
Indoors, students will be able to take advantage of a full range of facilities including the historic Wolf’s Den, a number of resort convention rooms, and a new facility that is opening in spring of 2013 — a smaller more intimate indoor space named the Turtle Shell.
“(We don’t) even necessarily have to run the programs ourselves, which we love to do,” Idiens said. “If teachers want to be able to take their kids somewhere, then they have somewhere to take them.”
To celebrate the new School of Nature, Fairmont Hot Springs Resort and the BC Rockies School of Nature will host a Outdoor Education Celebration Day.
Taking place on Saturday (December 15) from 1 to 4 p.m. at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, the celebration day will feature a host of activities for young and old. Snowshoeing, a fireside cookout and a hands-on ‘Animals in Winter’ presentation are just a few of the activities at the event, weather permitting. More than 100 educators from across the valley from as far north as Golden and as far south as Kimberley have been invited to attend. It’s an opportunity for them to truly take in the environment and facilities, said Idiens, and staff will be available to answer any and all questions the teachers might have. The event is also open to the public, and those interested are asked to register ahead by calling 250-345-6049 to help ensure enough food is prepared.