On October 17, 2018, 185 students, 10 teachers and 2 administrators traveled to Muskoka Woods on Lake Rosseau. This was the inaugural year of this three-day, two-night retreat for grade 10 students.
No venue could be more tranquil, pristine and inspiring than Muskoka Woods, located on the Canadian Shield, bordered by Lake Rosseau, and covering acres of native Canadian trees, home to a multitude of animal species. Facilities are welcoming, modern, functional and most important, student-friendly and accessible.
From High Ropes to Zip Line and Escape Room to Nature Hike, students had the opportunity to engage in as many activities as they wished. During this time, I witnessed the greatest learning taking place, as they encouraged and assisted each other in trust activities.
The spiritual focal point of the retreat was the plenary on the significance of The Eucharist and what it means to be followers of Christ. Students had the opportunity to write a letter to themselves, to be revisited at the retreat in their graduating year. Mass was celebrated by Father Peter Selvaraj of St. Michael Roman Catholic Parish in Muskoka.
It was truly moving to see genuine peer encouragement and collaboration. Unlikely friendships were forged and others were reacquainted and strengthened. Undiscovered talents were showcased at the Camp Fire. The cold temperatures were muted by the general warmth and collegiality of the student group, as they cheered on their peers. Perhaps, the favorite activity amongst students was the dance, which took place on the second night of our stay. The Muskoka Woods’ DJ captured the hearts of his audience, with his carefully-selected repertoire of dance music. The dance was definitely an inclusive, bonding experience.
Student testimonials highlight their experiences:
- Muskoka Woods is a great experience where I met different people and made lifelong friends. It taught me to be more independent and it allowed me to really pay close attention to the beautiful surroundings!
- The Muskoka Woods Retreat Experience allowed me to make new friends.
- This experience was truly life-changing…I made new friends with people I may have never talked to at school.
- It was a really fun experience. I think it will be one of my favorite high school memories.
Clearly, this retreat achieved our goals—community building and opportunities for students to exercise understanding, compassion, and awareness of self, other, and the environment, within the parameters of our Catholic values and faith tradition.
Ms. Capozzolo, Vice Principal
**Thank you to Ms. Capozzolo and the office staff for organizing this awesome event. Thanks as well to the staff who volunteered to supervise! Well done!