One of our instructors’ favourite times of the year has arrived: the time when they get together in the mountains to brush up on winter expedition skills, share stories and experiences, and have a great time together while making sure everything is in tip-top shape for our wilderness courses.
We host three seasonal trainings for our instructors each year to help them better understand Outward Bound Canada’s curriculum, improve their skills, and ensure they’re prepared for whatever they encounter in the field. This year, the winter training for the West Coast team took place in January and the training for Northern Ontario was held in February.
WINTER TRAINING ACTIVITIES
Winter training sessions are held in small groups to provide better opportunities for mentoring and personal connection. They include theoretical discussions, hands-on activities, and ice-breaking games (no pun intended!) to improve bonding and communication.
This year, the group from the West Coast snowshoed four kilometers through deep snow in a national park in the mountains to get to a warming cabin where they set up the cooking area, then dug a snow trench and set up a tarp tent for a cozy night in sub-zero temperatures. After two days of workshops on navigation and terrain management, participants took to the slopes with and without snowshoes to show how important these tools are when hiking in deep snow.
On the other side of the country, the Ontario Wilderness team met at its base in Minden, Ontario, for on-site training before heading into the field. The team covered topics such as ice safety, snowshoeing, and building winter camps in a controlled environment. After a few days at the base, they loaded up the truck and headed to their entry point in Algonquin Park to begin their journey into the wilderness. On snowshoes and sleds, they crossed the famous “Old Railway Trail” and set up camp in three different locations where the real work began: Gathering water and firewood, pitching large, warm tents, and tending to multiple fires. Each night, the instructors could choose to sleep in makeshift shelters or cozy up in the warm tents. The teams had a lot of fun and learned a lot while preparing for the 2023 winter season.