Canada Canoes 2

Cam and Kirsty's Canadian Adventure

In 2015, 19 cadets and 6 adults from Strathallan School CCF went on a sea kayaking expedition to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Two of the cadets were supported by grants from CCFA; Cam and Kirsty recount their highlights of the expedition.

The expedition started at Brackendale on the British Columbia mainland, we made our way from the mainland to Departure Bay, on Vancouver Island.  We then travelled north to the large fishing town of Campbell River.

The day after arriving at Campbell River, we were given the task of planning, organising and purchasing what provisions were need for our expedition. After another night in Campbell River we moved by ferry to Quadra Island where we met the kayak guides and loaded the boats.  The next four days were spent kayaking around the Discovery Islands as part of our Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Gold practice expedition – it was here we learned the necessary skills for required kayaking and the qualification expedition. On this first trip we were fortunate enough to experience the amazing wildlife that Canada has to offer, such as a pod of transient orca, seals, porpoises and bald eagles. On this trip we learned many lessons, especially on providing and cooking food for ourselves on the practice expedition.

We returned to Campbell River and once again went to the supermarket with newly amended shopping lists - learning from our mistakes on the practice expedition. For example, steak was not as filing as we would have expected but we learned that pasta was a good nutritious, filing meal for after a hard day on the water. The cadets then had a night in the Travelodge at Campbell River to rest and recover for our four hour journey up to Telegraph Cove, where we would start our qualifying expedition.

After arriving at Telegraph Cove we packed up our boats and set off quickly. Just an hour after departure our group had the mesmerising experience of being roughly 100m away from a pod of Orca. .  The qualifying expedition was 5 days in duration. During this trip we once again experienced a variety of wildlife which included humpback whales, transient orca, minke whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, dalls and harbour porpoises, sea lions, seals, bald Eeagles and many other species. We also managed to catch a glimpse of sea urchins.

On our second day our group took a detour off route and went to visit the Killer Whale Conservation Observatory, where we learned about the work this organisation we were doing to protect the orca and the local environment. On arriving at each destination we spilt up the roles of taking up the boats, cooking and setting up tents, this way everyone in the group was taking responsibility for the group kit that we needed for the expedition.

The trip finished with all groups returning safely.  Equipment management was vital and the cadets needed to be organised and logical, to make sure that nothing essential was lost or misplaced.  We left from Telegraph Cove for the long drive to Departure Bay and the ferry back to the mainland.  We arrived back in Horseshoe Bay and then picked up a coach to take us to the University of British Columbia.

On the last day of our trip we went to visit Vancouver and go shopping in the city, we all bought gifts for families back home and we all enjoyed the experience of being in the city. In the evening when we got back from Vancouver we went out for a group meal. There were trip awards presented at the end of the meal and one individual got the golden paddle award for best pupil on the trip. The next day we packed up our stuff and headed to the airport for our return journey home. This was the end of our enjoyable and memorable three week trip to Canada.