Outdoor Pursuits - Cold Feet and Even Colder Water

Friday, March 19, 2021 - By: Damien B, Privett ‘21; Photo by Dan Norman

Of the many sports offered at Brentwood, Outdoor Pursuits (ODP) is, in my experience, the most unique. Led by Mr Norman, who is often accompanied by Ms Wolinsky, Ms West and his son, Jacob, ODP is full of fantastic and varied experiences. Although not for everyone, it offers a wide range of activities from hiking to kayaking in both river and ocean and it never fails to challenge.

As a student, I had heard about ODP many times in the past. Friends of mine joined and participated in different terms throughout the years. Some left due to the higher time commitment ODP requires compared to most other sports, but most of the comments surrounding it mention the amazing, fun-filled trials as well as how tired you are afterward. If you are looking to experience the beauty of Vancouver Island’s forests, rivers, and coasts, then ODP could be perfect for you.

Mr Norman is known to be an avid outdoorsman, having competed as a kayaker at the Olympics in 1992 and possessing one of the most impressive athletic resumes at Brentwood. His work in ODP as a leader and a guide has provided a spectacular display of kindness and Canadian spirit, and for the little time I have known him, he has been unbelievably supportive. Managing a growing class of under-experienced teenagers through rocky terrain or frigid waters - which I will get to in just a moment - is no easy task, and the staff in charge of ODP have embodied the Brentwood values of Grit and Joy with their refrain: “We won’t make you do anything we wouldn’t do.”

As I mentioned, the water we are encouraged to enter is extremely cold. I’m not talking about just dipping your toes in, or just a quick swim either; I have completely submerged myself for much longer than I would ever deem reasonable and I don’t regret a second of it. I can see now one of the reasons some people are hesitant to try it out, but I encourage any who are considering ODP to have more faith in themselves. If I can do it, anyone can.

According to a number of my fellow Outdoor Pursuers, “The first week seems tough, but it gets a lot easier”. I sure hope so, as the first week has been exciting, but something that I would rather not repeat if avoidable. I can’t wait to see the evolution of this wonderful sport and hope to see it grow in the future.

Damien B, Privett ‘21

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