Members Showcase - Outdoor Education Thrives At Gamiing

Submitted by Mieke Schipper

As a not-for-profit charitable organization, Gamiing Nature Centre and its amazing team are dedicated to share and promote the importance and joy of living in harmony with nature by balancing human needs with nature. From the shores of Pigeon Lake, the organization’s goal has always been to work together towards sustainable ecosystems, stewardship of our natural resources and heritage for our future generations. All delivered through inspirational and effective environmental programs for children and adults, schools and community groups. The onsite and outreach school programs are linked into the Ontario Education Curriculum.

Over time, Gamiing has shifted focus from lakeshore restoration to outdoor education. It was quickly evident that education is for everyone and more inclusive, attracting a large and enthusiastic audience. Last year, the new "Wild at Heart" Forest School was established. Now known as the Outdoor School, parents who are interested can enroll their children for one or two week programs at the Gamiing Outdoor School as part of their school curriculum. 

So, you might ask -- what is an Outdoor School? A perfect question for the participating students, who offer a diverse array of answers and sentiments - "It is a feeling". "It is where I feel at home, where I feel I can be myself". These comments describe the essence of the Outdoor School. As the name implies, they are outdoors – literally all the time. There are no prescribed activities or programs, which makes it difficult to explain how the school day flows. But at the same time, that is exactly what it is. 

The focus is completely tailored to where the children are, as they engage in their natural surroundings, socialize with each other and find solace in themselves. They learn to take risks and to support each other, all the while learning to adapt and interpret math and science concepts, and ultimately learn how nature is integrated in our lives as human beings. 

Many workshops and guided events are offered throughout the year. John Wager of First Nations Curve Lake offers regular carving workshops where he gives participants a block of wood and they go home with a beautiful spoon. 

Other outings include monthly plant walks, full moon walks, and interpretive bird walks. Gamiing hosts seven annual events, including Winterlude, EcoEgg Hunt, Earth Day, Summer Lakeshore Festival, Traditional Manoomin (Wild Rice) Harvesting, and Fall Fest. All are typically family events. 

Homeschool Nature Days and the annual Summer Day Camps bring children to Gamiing to enjoy time at the pond, climbing trees, kayaking, eco-fishing and more. All activities are focused on honouring our past, educating our present and preserving our future, conscious actions reflected in all we do.

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