Outdoor experience enhances student skills
By Frank Flegel
YORKTON — About 100 Grade 7 students from four Yorkton Roman Catholic
schools spent the week of May 28 to June 1 without access to any social
media, television or radio and instead learned in “God’s
classroom,” said St. Alphonsus School principal Quinn Haider.
This year was special because it is the 40th anniversary
of this unique educational program that has taken Grade 7 students to
Camp, Duck Mountain Provincial Park. They live without all the electronic
communication tools usually available to them and while some of them
go through withdrawal, all appear to enjoy the experience.
“Yes, Yorkton is near parks but it’s amazing how many never
have the chance to visit a park or get out of the city,” said Haider. “We
work them really hard with all kinds of activities, most of them with
ties to curriculum objectives.”
There is also a strong spiritual component in the week’s activities,
said Haider. There are prayer services during the week and Rev. Francis
Hengen, pastor of Yorkton’s St. Gerard’s Parish, celebrates
a mass concluding the week.
The activities are what is found at many summer camps — boating,
canoeing, archery, survival techniques and wilderness experiences that
emphasize teamwork. Haider said it all in some way ties in with curriculum
“Students have to present a report on their accomplishments
when they return to class.”
A unique twist is the requirement that all participants,
prior to the camp, have to write a suspense story which some of them
are asked to read when all are sitting around the campfire. “It doesn’t
have to be a scary story,” said Haider, “but one that has
some suspense to it.” Not everyone has to read but each must prepare
a story as part of their language arts class.
The students appear to enjoy the week, if the reaction
of two is any indication. Wyatt Kowalyshen and Shelby Hnatiuk, 13, both
said it was a good week. “I was a little scared at first, said Hnatuik, “it
was the first time I’d be away from my family for a week, but when
I got there it was really cool.” Kowalyshen said his favourite
activity was canoeing. “It was so much fun, and I met a lot of
The program is called AMPO, an acronym of the first letters of the four
Yorkton elementary schools in the Christ the Teacher Roman Catholic School
Division: Sts. Alphonsus, Mary, Michael, Paul Outdoors.
Haider said some kids who have difficulty in school thrive in the program. Haider is also a math teacher and he says that his students are much more focused and attentive when they return from the week’s camp.