Belmont Secondary’s Backcountry Experience

On May 22nd, 2019, educators Emily, Ria and Syd greeted 16 students from Belmont Secondary at the Millard Learning Centre. Throughout the following three days, they participated in the Galiano Conservancy Association’s Backcountry Experience program which aims to teach students about “leave no trace” camping and wilderness safety. 

On Day one, students are taught how to properly pack all of their camping gear into a hiking pack before hitting the trail. They then hike from Laughlin Lake back to the learning centre through the mid-island protected network with their gear to get a sense of what hiking in the backcountry is like. 

The students from Belmont were phenomenal at native plant identification and had fun practicing their skills in the beautiful coastal forests of Pebble Beach reserve. They also had the opportunity to do some intertidal exploring during our lunch break on the beach. 

After the long day of hiking, students learned how to set up their tents and cook with camp stoves. The Galiano Conservancy Association is fortunate to be able to provide Backcountry Experience students with backcountry camping gear for the duration of the program generously provided by grant from Mountain Equipment Co-Op in 2016. 

rough-skinned newt

On Day 2 Belmont Students learned how to use a compass, take on a fun orienteering challenge through the woods, and explore the importance of wetlands in a pond study. Students we very excited to find a Rough-Skinned Newt in the pond. Even though they are called the Rough-Skinned Newt, these amphibians are actually part of the salamander family. They are BC’s only poisonous salamander (through ingestion not to the touch!)— they each produce enough tetrodotoxin to kill 25,000 mice! In the afternoon, students enjoyed the sunshine and their lunch at crystal cove. 

The last day of the trip was jam packed with a native plant teaching train, basic wilderness first-aid and shelter building. It was then time to say goodbye and Belmont students hopped back on the bus to the ferry terminal where they enjoyed pizza on the beach. 

It was truly a pleasure having the students from Belmont stay with us at the Millard Learning Centre. We wish them all the best and hope to see Belmont Students again next year!