Strangers to Friends in the Course of a Kayak Trip
Familiar faces alternated with newcomers as the Brentwood ODPers (plus a few additional hosts) welcomed students from Glebe Collegiate, in Ottawa, last week. After waking up at 4am their time, traveling all day, and hiking Mount Finlayson, the Glebe kids were more than ready for dinner and bed: thermarests on the floor in the boarding houses of their ‘twins’.
Brentonians are accompanied to classes on Saturday – it was a new, strange experience for the Glebe kids – before an afternoon session of wet exits, practice paddling the sea kayaks, and preparing for departure. Sleeping bags waterproofed and snack bags packed, everyone headed to bed to get a good sleep before setting out.
Unfortunately, as an early start was necessary, our visitors did not get to experience Brentwood’s delicious Sunday Brunch. Leaving in mid-morning from the school docks, one group paddled about 16km to Sansum Narrows, while the other drove to Crofton to launch there and paddle to Wallace Island. This second group spotted huge sea lions on the log booms of the Crofton Mill, which was quite exciting for those who had never seen them before!
On the second night, both groups convened on Tent Island (and dried out wet gear from the pouring rain that morning) with permission from the Penelekut tribe, which owns it.
As well, we were very fortunate to have Hwiemtun, a member of the neighbouring Cowichan tribe, come speak to the group about Native culture and spirituality. Thank you to Mr. Featherstone for bringing Hwiemtun and the equipment to cook dinner for 27 people to Tent Island.
Rinsing cups from hot chocolate and stirring the water with paddles proved, that evening, to be an excellent way to excite the phosphorescent algae. Seeing the glow-in-the-dark sparkles in the water was a fantastic new experience for many.
The next day, each group headed to the campsite that the other had occupied for the first night – Wallace Island for the group that started at Brentwood and Sansum Narrows for the group from Crofton. A clear, starry sky was perfect for our last night out, prompting some to choose to sleep outside or in hammocks.
Wednesday afternoon found the group that started from Crofton at the Brentwood docks, rinsing boats and hanging wet gear to dry. Even Steve, the caribou mascot given to the Glebe students by Experiences Canada, made it back safe and sound. Just as that group finished its cleaning, the bus and boat trailer rolled up to the kayak shack with the other.
Sport set aside for Thursday afternoon, the Glebe and ODP students made their way to the Royal BC Museum in Victoria. With focus on the First Nations gallery as follow up from Hwiemtun’s presentation, it was great for those of us who had been there before to see the museum again, and a good first visit for those who hadn’t.
Tears rolled down some cheeks as hugs were exchanged the next morning at cookie break when we gathered – similar to a week prior, only instead of friends next to strangers we were shoulder-to-shoulder with “slightly less strangers” – in a circle to say goodbye.
On behalf of all the students involved in the first half of the ODP exchange (10 Brentwood ODP students will travel to Ontario in May, 2017) I would like to thank Mr. Norman, Mrs. Olszewski from Brentwood, and Mrs. Rhimes and Ms. Christy from Glebe, for their efforts in making such a great experience possible. We can’t wait to see everyone again in the spring!
Hannah R, Mack ‘18