Year-end event ‘an incredible community building experience,’ says principal
More than 160 people from Durham Christian High School (DCHS) spent four days at Algonquin Park recently, canoeing, camping, eating and enjoying the outdoors and one another’s company.
“It’s an incredible community building experience,” says principal Fred Spoelstra, noting the DCHS all-school campout has been taking place for the past 40 of the school’s 42 years of existence and is a cherished tradition.
“The focus is on enjoying ourselves as a school community, celebrating the blessing of the year that we’ve had and looking forward to the next one,” he says.
The majority of the Durham school’s students as well as staff and about 10 parent volunteers participates in the June event, requiring three school buses, two large trucks as well as an assortment of other vehicles to get to the park.
Spoelstra notes there is so much enthusiasm about the campout he doesn’t advertise for volunteers.
One volunteer, Hans Snoek, has become a special figure at the campout. Warmly known as Grandpa Snoek, he has been coming for more than two decades, starting when children attended the school and now taking part with his grandchildren.
Especially cherished throughout the four days are the nightly campfire sessions, which include devotional times, games and skits.
The final evening includes an opportunity for open-ended sharing and reflection, which can often be an emotional time as students express appreciation for the friendships they’ve formed and activities of the year.
The school rents 25 canoes to add to the regular camping activities of swimming, hiking and playing games.
Meals are eaten as a group, with everyone sharing the responsibility for preparation and clean-up. Two school buses and an area sheltered with a large tarp create the temporary kitchen and dining space.
Spoelstra notes organization for the event is a “well-oiled machine,” with parents on the lookout for food sales well in advance. A refrigerator truck donated by a local company makes hauling the large amounts of food items much easier.
Cost for students for the four days is a minimal $55.
The cherished tradition will definitely be continued, as long as the school is at a size that it can accommodate such a trip, says Spoelstra.