Outdoor Pursuits

Coaching Staff
Dan Norman
Sarah Wolinsky

This exciting option takes full advantage of our oceanfront for kayaking and of nearby mountains for hiking and camping. Rooted in an appreciation of the natural BC environment, the program teaches students to respect and protect the environment through responsible use and service.

Fall Term

Kayaks on shore

This term is reserved for Grade 11 and 12 students only. The early focus of this term is on kayaking skills in preparation for a multi-day sea-kayak trip in early October. Students begin with wet exits and basic safety and proceed to learn proper forward stroke technique, basic handling of the kayak, and care of the equipment. Parallel with this, students learn to use camping equipment such as camp stoves, tarps and tents.The sea kayak trip is in the Gulf Islands, and often departs from and returns to the Brentwood dock. After this trip, the emphasis changes to hiking and climbing, with visits to indoor climbing gyms, and day hikes on local trails. Skills taught include top-rope climbing and belaying indoors and bouldering skills. More advanced climbers have an opportunity to learn to lead climb indoors. Late term options include overnight hiking trips on the Juan de Fuca trail, or day trips to go kayak-surfing at Jordan River.

Winter Term

Students hiking in the snow

This term is open to all students, with priority given to students in Grades 9 - 10. Experienced senior students are counted on for leadership positions. Students learn a variety of basic kayaking and camping skills: campsite selection, setting up a tent, operating camp stoves safely, selecting proper clothing for outdoor activities, campsite cooking, the art of tarping, lighting campfires, and trail and campsite etiquette. An introduction to kayak safety is completed in an indoor pool, followed by many sport afternoons paddling on Mill Bay, culminating in a kayak journey and cook out on a local beach. This term usually involves one overnight snowshoe camp-out, with avalanche awareness training. Additional activities include day hikes, paddling on Mill Bay, canoe polo, indoor climbing, and an introduction to wilderness first aid A 50 hour Wilderness First Aid course is often offered in this term as an extra for students who choose to take on this extra commitment.

Spring Term

A boarding student rock climbing

This term is open to all students. Initially, all students participate in basic hiking, an introduction to kayaking and rock climbing. After a short time, each student must choose to specialize in either whitewater kayaking or rock climbing. The whitewater paddlers head to the nearby Cowichan River at least once a week, where safety and paddling skills are taught and practiced. The students host a whitewater event for the BC paddling community in April and travel to paddle other rivers such as the Puntledge or Chilliwack. The rock climbing group travels by bicycle to a local indoor rock climbing gym where they learn how to top-rope climb and belay and develop fitness and technique on the indoor wall. Near the end of the term when the rocks are a little drier, the climbers will get several opportunities to climb outdoors in the Cowichan Valley and other locations such as Squamish or Crest Creek Crags. 

Outdoor Pursuits News

Sep 08, '22
River Gold, A Stay
Sep 13, '21
And We're Off!
Brentwood Logo
Outdoor Pursuits students camping
Boarding students going for a hike
Rock climbing in Nanaimo BC
Students kayaking in Mill Bay
Looking down from the top of a climb
Joe kayaking

Dan Norman

Dan Norman

B.Ed. (Ottawa), B.Sc. (Western) Mathematics, Outdoor Pursuits

Dan Norman was born and raised in Toronto, but quickly left. He studied mathematics at the University of Western Ontario and education at the University of Ottawa. During this time, he trained and competed in the sport of whitewater canoe slalom, first qualifying for the Canadian national team in 1988. In 1992, he represented Canada at the Barcelona Olympics. His involvement in competitive kayaking brought him to British Columbia and his interest in the outdoors became a cornerstone of his personal and professional life. Since 2001, in addition to mathematics, Mr. Norman has taught the Outdoor Pursuits programme at Brentwood College since 2001. His passion for the West Coast environment drives him to take students to beautiful places all over Vancouver Island. His preferred modes of transportation are human-powered and include sea kayaks, canoes, and hiking boots. Mr. Norman likes very few things more than goofing around in paddle powered boats – canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. His current challenges include developing and delivering outdoor and experiential education at Brentwood and finding ways to teach math outside the classroom. In his leisure, he and his family spend as much time as possible in remote wilderness locations, and work hard to minimize their footprint on this beautiful island they call home.

Josie Olszewski

B.Sc. (McGill), M.Sc. (SFU), Physics, Science

Josie Olszewski grew up in northern British Columbia before venturing to Montreal to attend McGill University for her undergraduate degree in Science with a major in physics. Her interest in experimental science and medicine led her to working with the Noble Gas Imaging Group on a project that worked on imaging human lungs with MRI techniques where she obtained her Master of Science. Armed with a passion for learning and a genuine interest in working with students, Josie arrived at Brentwood more than 10 years ago ready to teach. A highly qualified and respected physics teacher at Brentwood, she has also delivered high quality outdoor education to students. Josie has certifications in wilderness first aid, as a top-rope and indoor climbing instructor (ACMG), and she has extensive experience hiking, cycling and kayaking. Jose has a passion for experimental science and learning by doing, and implements both into her classroom. Her friendly presence and dedication to her students have been a major contributors to her success at the School.

Sarah Wolinsky

B.A., B.Ed., M.A. (Queen’s University), Assistant Houseparent - Privett, Outdoor Pursuits

Originally hailing from Toronto, Sarah has worn a variety of hats over the last few years. She has worked as a canoe trip guide and camp director, got her Master’s degree in early modern Japanese history from Queen’s, and started working with her teaching background in history and math. She finally found a middle ground in outdoor education and independent boarding schools, spending a year at Rothesay Netherwood School before finding her way to Brentwood where she now works as a Math teacher and Assitant Houseparent in Privett House. Equal parts outdoorswoman, historian, mathematician and gamer, Sarah brings her eclectic blend of passions and interests with her to the halls of blue.

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