Coquitlam Alternate Basic Education (CABE) is the School District 43 alternative high school for students not doing well in a traditional learning environment. The school offers smaller class sizes, a more personalized approach to student learning, and self-pacing with most courses set up to be completed within 2 – 3 months. Many students have experienced social or behaviour issues in previous educational settings, and some use CABE as a re-entry program to regular high school.
Last spring, two members of Coquitlam Search and Rescue, Bob Hetherington and Sandy Burpee, teamed up with teacher Shawn O’Brien to create the CABE Outdoor Opportunities Program, a program to provide interested students with an outdoor recreation experience and an opportunity to connect with their peers and adult mentors in a setting outside the classroom.
The program has had a modest start – the initial task was to create sufficient interest in the program that students would reliably show up for program activities – but is gaining momentum as word of mouth spreads and more students express interest in joining the program.
The program has 2 components: instruction and outdoor activities. Indoor instruction has included the 10 essentials, trip safety, bear and cougar awareness, basic map and compass use, knot tying, hypothermia prevention and treatment, and swiftwater safety. A session on snow safety was deferred due to lack of snow on the local hills. Some instruction has extended into the outdoors, such a shelter construction and stove use.
Outdoor activities to date have included hikes to Minnekhada High Knoll and Crystal Falls, climbing sessions at Climb Base5 Coquitlam (the students earned their belay certification), and a day of skiing instruction at Whistler, hosted by the Zero Ceiling Society.
Although outdoor activities to date have been constrained due to a lack of snow this winter, the spring 2015 term is planned to be an active one, with sessions on shelter and survival fire building, canoeing and an overnight camping trip in June.