Our trip to Loon Lake took place on March 4 – 7. We stayed there 3.5 (rounded up to 4) days and 3 nights.
During our ‘learning advance’ to Loon Lake I learned so much that I will split this post into two parts. The first will be a chronological overview of what we did and what I learned from it at the time. The second will be my reflection of all the learning and growth I have done on the Loon Lake trip and as a consequence it.
When we started our trip to Loon Lake, I didn’t really know what we were going to do. I was expecting that we would work on our 7 Habits learning and do team building exercises which would strengthen the integrity of our class. I also knew a few things off the top of my head, like that the first stop on our trip would be at Raptors Ridge, and that’s what we did. To start off our trip, we made a stop at Raptors Ridge where we got to see many rare and interesting birds. We also learned about the natural lives and habitats of these raptors as well as their artificial uses (such as pest control).
A short trip later, we arrived at Loon Lake lodge where we would stay the next 3 nights. The lodges themselves were quite comfortable with lots of space for us and our stuff. We used the space wisely and played a few games of Uno in one of our rooms before dinner.
The food for dinner that day was as it would be for the rest of the trip, quite good. For me it was a step down from my mum’s excellent cooking but I was still very positively surprised by how it tasted. It was definitely a lot more American than what I’m used to.
After dinner, the lesson started. That night we started the goal setting journey, but first we did something else. We were asked the question, “What do you think the secret agenda is?” to which the correct answer is, socio-emotional learning.
We would be learning how to become good learners and therefore also good people by reflecting on who we were and the people we wanted to become. With this came the question, “How would you describe yourself from the viewpoint of your peers or teachers?” and the subsequent question, “What is the identity you intend to present during the learning advance?” as well as, “What evidence will teachers see that supports and aligns with this identity?”. I had many answers to these questions. At that time, I had described myself as impulsive, sometimes even arrogant, but overall well meaning. This wasn’t the identity I wanted to present to people I interact with though. I wanted to become a more mature version of myself and become more open to concepts, ideas, and activities which I disagreed with at first.
After doing the learning, we had a bit of free time which me and my friends used quite unwisely. We then went off to bed.
This day started, as always, with breakfast. After breakfast we learned a bit about our goal setting but the teachers mostly prepared us for the activities ahead.
The first activity my group went on was canoeing.
Within this activity we were able to reflect on all the good things about being out in the middle of nature and in such a wonderful environment. We also learned about why canoeing is so much better than motorboating as well as paddling techniques. We were told to note the environment around us, for example we listened for streams and wind. While canoeing, I noticed the two cars that drove off while we were on the water just because of how quiet we were and how loud and disruptive the cars were. This compelled me to actively look at how the camp was planned and what the space was dedicated for. What I noticed was that most of the camp was built with cars in mind, rather than foot traffic.
The second activity was archery.
Although I wasn’t too good at archery, I did enjoy shooting the arrows. It was a good opportunity to learn since at home I have two bows but no arrows. Archery was more of a time for us to socialize because we spent most of our time watching while one or two of us shot arrows.
Our third activity was top-roping.
Top roping is when you climb up about 8 meters into the trees and then do cool challenges on ropes that are spanned between trees. We were secured to harnesses and were always safe. Even when that was the case, the perceived risk was still quite high just because of the distance between the top ropes and the ground. Due to me being a climber and me insisting on it, I learned how to use a belay device. With me being able to belay someone, three people could go up on the top ropes at once instead of just two.
Our fourth and final activity was climbing.
Before we got on the wall, we had a short break because our instructors had to grab something. During this time, I managed to do a bat-hang on some jugs. Once the instructor came back, I quickly told Keenan how to use the belay device, and I started climbing. The one complication I faced was that I had not properly taught Keenan to use the belay device and was therefore being unsafe. Luckily for me, I could climb down from the top without jumping or falling and I therefore avoided any injuries. Although I had known that what I was doing was unsafe, I had not considered how the consequences of my actions might affect everybody, and not just myself.
After taking turns climbing for a while, I started challenging my friends to races up the wall. First I raced them, specifically Jordan with me campusing. Then when we decided I was still too good in the races, even without feet, I decided to go both feet but only one hand. While this challenge is likely easier, it’s a lot scarier. The risk of going with one hand was also added onto by the fact that the holds on the climbing wall weren’t screwed on as well as they should be and I ended up spinning a few holds.
After the activities, we went in for dinner.
During dinner I talked to the camp leaders and I heard them reflect on what they learned from being with us. This was a perspective which I hadn’t considered earlier. This experience encouraged me to consciously consider, not only by how they impacted me and other people’s perceptions of me, but also how they impacted other people and their perceptions of themselves and what they do in ways that I hadn’t considered earlier.
Then we did our lesson for that night. With that lesson, we worked on our goals. I also reflected on what we did during the day and updated my goal to account for what I had learned and ideas I had come up with during our many activities.
In almost total opposite to the previous day, on this day we really did some work, with us getting 3.5 hours of free time in between 8:00 and 22:00. This doesn’t mean that the day was boring. I found the subject of our learning to be quite compelling.
What we learned about was readiness.
Life is all about challenges and transitions. Nothing is the same, every moment, every second, is different. You need to constantly change in order to successfully get through life. Whether you know it or not, you already do constantly change in life. So how can you be ready for this constant change, a lot of which you cannot control? Here, you must differentiate readiness from preparedness. Preparing for the future is impossible. It is extremely unfeasible, if not impossible to be prepared for the massive amounts of variables that life can be, but you can be ready. You must be ready to take on risks without knowing whether you will weather the challenge. You must seek to understand and then embrace change.
So, how do we get ready for change?
Within this lesson I learned about four stages of readiness.
The first stage of this is being ready for the now.
In order to be ready for the now, you must be able to stay focused on one task. You must be mentally present and dedicated to a task which may require emotion and dedication. In order to achieve this state of readiness you must be able to get rid of distractions. Many people may think, “Oh, that’s easy! I’ll just put anything that might distract me away and out of sight.” but this way of thinking does not realize that even when people are physically present with no distractions in sight, their minds might be somewhere else. People are great at thinking of things that are unimportant to the current situation. I found a strategy to help with this that is quite helpful. When your mind starts to wander, try consciously assessing what you were thinking about and asses whether thinking about this thing will help your current situation. If it doesn’t and you can’t actually do anything about what you were thinking about, then don’t think about it. If you can do something about the situation you were thinking about, then it might be better for you to focus on that, rather than letting it distract you from your current occupation and getting you nowhere in both realms.
The second sage is being ready for ‘what’s next?’.
This is being ready for things that you know are going to happen. If you have a train to a foreign city which you need to catch first thing tomorrow, it would be best if you packed your bags today. I found that this was the easiest stage to conceptualize because of just how fundamental it is to modern life. You need to plan in advance and you therefore do it without having to be conscious of the fact that you are doing it.
The third stage is being ready for transitions.
There are times in life when you experience a, sometimes fundamental change in life. These are big shifts in key areas of your life. A lot of the time these changes are sudden and easy to spot, but you must also be ready for slow and gradual changes. The changes that you only realize happened when they’re done and normalized throughout life. Think of old people saying “kids these days”. The kids had been changing for decades, slowly evolving to their current state, but the old people only really notice when they start feeling or seeing the consequences of this change. These are changes that require long term planning but can still be predicted and planned for. Like the saying goes, ‘plan for the worst and hope for the best’.
The fourth and final stage of readiness is to be ready for anything.
This means that you feel ready and maybe even prepared for whatever comes your way. Even when you don’t have control, you can still have perspective. You can still know your position in life and what you have to do in order to succeed. To be ready for anything, you need to be flexible, adaptable, and have forethought. Only when you master these attributes will you have what it takes to live life to the fullest.
While practicing readiness you might come across an interesting observation; that there is a state of readiness for everything, even things that don’t seem like they need readiness. Things like games, vacations, family, and other people. If you do not seek to comprehend that you must be ready for these things and that these things can and will distract you, then this stuff may ruin your life. Try to think of something that could get in your way, which you’d normally enjoy. With this, I learned that no matter what it is, anything can become a pressure. Even things that you love can become such pressures that you no longer enjoy them. So how do you deal with all of this stuff? For control, you really only need two things, appropriate control and perspective over your life.
So how do you gain control over your life, especially with the loads of homework that you will receive once in university?
This is where GTD comes in. GTD, or Getting Things Done is a methodology which allows for a better approach to life and work. This methodology consists of five steps which are made to establish increased efficiency, especially in terms of work. The five steps are capture, process, organize, reflect, and do. When receiving tasks, guidance, or even having ideas, you should have a place where you can capture put information. After putting the information there, you should process the information ask yourself, “What is this?”. I also like to ask “Why is this?” because I find that having information or a task is useless if you do not know the purpose of this undertaking. After processing the information, you must organize it. You may have an extremely interesting assignment that you are exited for but have work which is more urgent. In order to be on top of things, you should schedule your work so that you finish everything before it’s due. You should also have projects linked and connected, so you know how they’re coming along. This means that you should schedule to mostly work on the more urgent work, but also so that you can work on the more interesting assignments and not get off track. That way you will be less likely to be bored and will also be more ready for the now, without having your mind wander. As you do this, you can also reflect on your work and how well you did it so that when you get a similar assignment, you will already have groundworks for it. Throughout all of this, you cannot forget the most important aspect of your labour, actually doing it. A great way of making sure you’re getting all your work done is by having a list, categorized by urgency and category which you can check off.
As you might note by the amount of writing for this day, I found the lessons quite interesting. After the lessons, we also played a game of Jeopardy. This game was eminently fun. I found this to be a particularly enjoyable group game, although my team only got in third place.
After the games, we washed up. While washing up, I planned out a little ‘expedition’ with my friend, Jonathan.
Early on this Thursday morning, Jonathan and I got up and took our first steps into the brisk morning air. We had planned to hike to the other side of the lake but upon farther inquiry had realized that much of the path no longer exists. With this knowledge and us not wanting to take such great risks, we decided to only go about a kilometer on the trail.
Once we got to a certain point on the trail, we decided we’d have to head back due to us running out of time. It was nice to go on a foreign and new hike, especially when I had a friend to experience it with. When we finished our hike, it was already time for breakfast. Unfortunately, I hadn’t brushed my teeth before the hike so I was a bit late for breakfast.
After breakfast, we did some more work on our goal setting. At that point I had determined my goal which was, “I shall strive to achieve a state of academic thought which shall allow me to learn better and grasp long term habits and ideas which will enrich my future in the long term.” With us being in the reflecting stage of our goals, I had to admit that my goal wasn’t one that I could accomplish within the four days we were there. I am still working on my goal and can admit that it is much more challenging to achieve than I had thought.
After our learning for that day, we went on a walk around on a road that had lots of fun obstacles. I enjoyed it quite a lot, especially the bars which I could swing and jump between. This walk also let me appreciate the nature that we were in and how it was similar to the nature that I have right at my doorstep, living here in Deep Cove. I talked with my friends about this on our bus ride home and we all agreed that we were a lot more lucky than even kids that grew up on the other side of the inlet, because the nature is much farther away from them than it is from us.
We had one more stop on our trip, the extreme air park. In the extreme air park, I decided to go for it, and I did my first backflip, albeit on a trampoline. We also managed to stack three of us, me being on the bottom, on top of each other’s shoulders.
Then we rode the bus and listened to music and just like that, it was over.
Now, the reflection.
During the trip, we wrote our goals and what we would do for them in a book.
My goal was “I shall strive to achieve a state of academic thought which will allow me to learn better and take away long term habits and ideas which will enrich my future for the long term.” I also ensured that I would know when I had achieved my goal and how I would achieve it using one of the pages of the booklet.
My goal was also nicely complimented by the four stages of readiness and GTD, due to it being a goal built up around my academic and scholarly asperations. What I want to do with my goal is to become a more effective learner by devoting all of my attention to my current activity (such as classes) and taking as many notes as possible which I would then reflect on at the end of the day.
With this, I would be able to get things done and create a more authentic and noteworthy product, as well as deepen my learning to a level at which I can excel. In order to accomplish it, I need to be at the third or fourth stage of readiness as well as practicing the seven habits in a revised form that fits me. At the time of writing this, I am taking daily notes most days, but not reflecting on them and putting them into weekly notes as I wanted to. This is because of a variety of factors, but it’s mostly because when I go to bed, I’m usually tired and want to sleep, so I forget or don’t want to take a note about what I learned during the day and how I can better my learning.
Through the trip, I have grown to be a much more dedicated learner in the classroom and at home. A sign of this that I have noticed is that my time spent playing videogames has decreased significantly. There is only one problem. I still have a lot of work which I need to catch up on. I spend time worrying about this work instead of doing the work which is more pressing and therefore am less efficient than I could be. The solution to this problem would be to complete the work that I have but it always seems like I have no time for it.
So in order to truly achieve my goal, I must first finish all my work and begin from a clean slate. This is what I have been working on for the past few weeks. I do hope that I will fully accomplish my goal by the start of June this year, so that I can feel the consequences of my positive changes.
Thank you for reading, goodbye.