BOW VALLEY – Whether it’s learning to budget for groceries or tackling more serious issues like healthy relationships, the Outdoor Learning Centre (OLC) provides its students with practical education through its Career and Life Management program.
As a way to thank the many community volunteers who visit the classroom almost every week to help teach this course, Canadian Rockies Public School (CRPS) division and OLC hosted an appreciation event at the end of October.
“We wanted to give a big thank you – these volunteers have been coming in week after week for years, it’s not just a one-off thing,” said John Bromley, a teacher and OLC coordinator.
“We’re very appreciative of what they bring to the course.”
Bromley explained volunteers from different fields in the Bow Valley come to the classroom to explain different aspects of their jobs that tie into the curriculum, like budgeting, or building resumés.
“Basically they come and kind of talk about their careers, how they got there, things to expect on a daily basis,” he said.
“They cover some curricular parts of the course. For example, part of the course is to talk about drugs and alcohol – the RCMP does that. We also have a component based on healthy relationships, so victim services from the YWCA and the RCMP do a joint presentation on healthy relationships – what abuse looks like … RBC talks about budgeting, another part of the course.”
Bromley further explained the Town of Canmore sends someone to help build resumés and cover letters as well. All of the volunteers involved come in on their own time.
“They’ve been coming out for multiple years and they volunteer their time – they’re not getting paid,” said Bromley.
Peter Prescesky, co-ordinator for the OLC, said the above mentioned are not the only ones taking part in the teaching.
“Alberta Parks they come in, each week we have a different person from a different area of work within the park – someone from public safety, someone from the education side, someone from the administration side,” said Prescesky.
Bromley added the guest speakers are integral to the learning.
“It’s a nice change from having the teacher talk about everything all the time,” he said. “The kids are typically more engaged when a guest speaker comes in, so it’s a good program.”
For Prescesky, the appreciation day held for these volunteers was an important one that shows the value of community.
“[We wanted] to thank everybody for coming together as a community,” he said. “A lot of our students come from outside the Bow Valley, but its really great to show these students and parents that come in and drop their kids off ... how tightly knit we are as a community to come together and create a program like this.”
A sentiment echoed by CRPS board chair, Carol Picard, who said in an email the OLC is a self-supporting project.
“I am always amazed and so grateful at the Bow Valley community and those people who give so freely and generously of their time and expertise for these students, and to partner with us at the Outdoor Learning Centre,” said Picard.
“The Career and Life Management [CALM] courses pretty much fill our entire summer, create jobs for seasonal instructors, opportunity for students from across Alberta to get these mandatory credits outside of the semester system, and helps the revenue stream from the OLC. The OLC is self-supporting, no dollars are taken from government grants to make it happen, and the revenue it generates for our school division employs two full-time and one part-time certificated staff and puts the equivalent of four teachers back into CRPS' budget, not to mention providing intense, hands-on, experiential education to students that will stay with them for a lifetime.””
Along with the careers and life management program, the OLC hosts a variety of different programs for students across the province. Visit olc.crps.ca for more information.