After traveling the globe teaching in different countries, I returned to Canada and scooped up the first job I could, which happened to at an office. I decided to leave my cushy job to pursue my field of study in Outdoor Recreation and Education, which pays dramatically less, but I do not regret it! My passion is teaching in the outdoors and I was lucky enough to facilitate a large group of grades 4, 5 and 6 from Wheatley Public school this week.
Explore Pelee recently purchased some fun rickshaws, which I found a way to play music from. Having the pop music bumping as the students emerged from the boat was a great way to start the day. The weather was perfect, the students were excited and their parents were still smiling. The only drawback was that the mayflies just hit the island hard the previous day. As girls are trained at a young age to react to bugs, there were immediately some “Ewww”, “You have one in your hair!” and “Gross” comments emerging from the crowd. I was not about to allow these pesky visitors to ruin the students time, so I devised a game. Once I had the students’ attention I explained the game “Every time you take a mayfly off a friend you get 1 point. The student with the most points at the end of the day wins a prize!” This immediately changed the reactions from “Gross” to “I have one who wants to take it off?!”
Pelee Island Winery was kind enough to allow the students to use their facility to eat their bagged lunch with no charge to the school (Thanks!). As the students and adults finished up their lunches, they had a bit off time to play on the play set. Then, we broke the students into mixed groups. Each group was given a list for the scavenger hunt. If they spot the item they receive 1 point and if they get a picture they will receive 2 points. Each team chose a team name and instantly chose animal names such as ‘The Blue Racer’ and ‘The Black Birds’. The students and parents were fully engaged in the unique wildlife and cultural finds on the island. One of the students put up his hand and asked “Can I throw my own shoe in a tree to check that off?” I promised them they will see a shoe in the tree by the end of the day. Once we made the turn by the shoe tree 100% of the people on the bus screamed to get pictures and take out their cameras. Even the parents were excited about the scavenger finds.
After arriving at the Lighthouse we ran into researchers from Toronto University and the Department of Fisheris and Oceans. They informed us that Lake Henry is actually very healthy and has many fish, turtle and mollusc species present. The students were so excited to meet a researcher and I am sure he was an inspiration for the students to continue studying science in the future.
Once we arrived to our final destination, Coneheads Ice-cream, I had the groups tally up their points and get their proof pictures ready. We figured out the winning group! I ran to the dock to pick up the rickshaw and played the latest Taylor Swift jam. I brought the rickshaw to the ice cream place and let the winning team get a ride on the rickshaw to the boat. The students felt like royalty being pulled back listening to their favourite songs. Finally the students with the highest mayfly count won a ride around the block on the rickshaw! They had taken over 100 mayflies off their friends and I am pretty sure those were the same girls that said “EWWW” when they first arrived on Pelee!
Overall we had amazingly high engagement from all of the students, parents and teachers. We all learned lots while having a blast. If you have a class or large group, contact us to book your educational and fun eco-tour on Pelee Island!