Instead of making individual shelters, the students in Linda Wagners outdoor education class teamed together to build larger shelters to house roughly four students. Photo Submitted

H.J. Cody students learn about outdoor survival first hand

Students went on an outdoor ed trip only to experience seven inches of snow and cold temperatures

What was supposed to be an average outdoor education trip turned out to be a learning experience about winter survival during a recent H.J. Cody class trip.

Taught by Linda Wagers, the outdoor education class trip to Alford Lake on Oct 2-4 had an unexpected outcome.

The overnight trip was originally meant to have the students learn ways to work by themselves to create shelter and how to be prepared.

However, an unexpected snow storm that brought more snow than anyone thought changed the plan.

“They were originally supposed to work by themselves to create their own shelter, but I wasn’t going to risk that,” said Wagers who had the students work in groups of four throughout the trip.

What could have been seen as an easy trip test their knowledge became a little more challenging and a lesson in preparedness.

Wagers said the cold and snow really showed her students how important it is to be prepared for any situation when going out into the wilderness.

“When you think you have enough clothes, pack more. Especially socks, you need to have lots of warm, dry socks, just in case,” said Wagers.

Wagers said the students experienced snowfalls of about seven inches and temperatures that dropped down to roughly -15C.

Wyatt Herbst and Damek Dye have both taken Wagners outdoor ed class for the last three years, including a trip last year to Alford Lake.

While temperatures were cold last year, the students said it was nothing compared to the snow and cold experienced this year.

“It was fun but it was a lot of work,” said Herbst. “Mrs. Wagers teaches us how to survive out in the wilderness, and she is really good at it.”

“We had to group together at the last minutes, because it was all supposed to be on our own,” explained Dye.

Dye said was disappointed because he had been researching a specific type of individual shelter he was looking forward to trying. However, this “super shelter” was too demanding of specific materials and would not stand up to the unexpected snows.

The students said the learned how important it was to be prepared.

Making sure you have extra options and appropriate clothing is important, says Dye. He noted he wore boots that said they were water proof, but were anything but.

“You need to be prepared, that is the biggest thing,” said Dye. “If you have just regular socks then makes sure you have some wool socks to put over them.”

Herbst noted attempting to survive in the wild is not an easy task.

“Trying to survive out in the wilderness is not easy, some days you get cold. Some night you have to wake up early… to heat up your sleeping bag,” Herbst said.

“It is definitely an experience you may never get in your entire life.”

For Wagers the biggest concern wasn’t the cold of the first night, but the following day and night.

The temperatures warmed up the second day the class was out at the lake, however once material becomes cold and damp, it often stays that way.

“The biggest danger was actually the damp after the cold. Our main concern was staying warm and dry to stave off hypothermia,” Wagers explained.

Wagers said she had been planning a winter survival unit with this course, however the students got to experience a little earlier than planned.

She was happy with the way the students adapted and worked together over the course of the weekend trip.

Herbst and Dye said the outdoor education class is more than just an “easy credit.”

“Mrs. Wagers is teaching us important stuff that we can actually use in our lives,” said Herbst.

Dye continued to say what the class teaches is different than any other course taught at H.J. Cody.

“She teaches hunter safety, we get our boating licence and we can get our PAL. What other class does that,” said Dye.

For Wagers, she hopes her students will take the information she gives them into life, as situations may arise where outdoor survival could be necessary, even if it is just used for camping.

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