2019 Science & Nature Camp
Williams Lake, BC | August 5-9

Monday August 5th
Vancouver to Williams Lake

The normally 6 hour drive from Vancouver to Williams Lake will be broken up to lay the context for the program, with some fun reasons to stretch some legs and enjoy refreshments.

Alexandria Bridge

Visit the site of the original Cariboo Wagon Road bridge over the Fraser River.  This historic place includes the 1926 bridge, its associated roadwork and retaining walls, and the abutments and footings remaining from the original bridge built in 1863. Situated adjacent to surviving remnants of historic fur brigade trails and early roads which are currently used as public walking trails.

LEARNING TOPICS: Historical development of BC, including infrastructure and culture; the importance of the Fraser River in BC; salmon migrations

Sugar Shack

While not a typical BC experience, the Sugar Shack is run by a Quebecois who wants to share his love of Maple syrup and poutine with the Cariboo!  The sugar season (temps des sucres) is one of the oldest of Quebec culinary traditions.

LEARNING TOPICS: Maple Syrup production

Cultural Welcome Ceremony & Native Plants Walk

If they are available, experience a welcoming ceremony to camp performed by a Secwepemc elder, and join them on an interpretive walk to learn about traditional uses for some of our local plants.  

LEARNING TOPICS: Cultural heritage and respect, plant identification, traditional uses

Tuesday, August 7th - Thursday, August 8th
Key Curriculum Modules

In order to have the most immersive, hands-on experience possible, the students will be divided into six crews to work with throughout the week.  With their crew, they will complete two 3-hour modules per day that have both an engaged learning component and related activity. Modules are listed below:

Backcountry Basics & OPTIONAL overnight camping (David Hamilton, FIT, Jr. Operations Supervisor, Alex Fraser Research Forest)

Learn how to plan trips, buy and pack equipment, build fires, tie knots, stay safe in the wilderness and what to do if you forget something along the way.  If you are feeling adventurous, join David and another instructor for a mini overnight backpacking trip for the night in lieu of the after-dinner activities.

LEARNING TOPICS: Trip planning, weather considerations, communications, map reading, equipment types, efficient packing, fire-building, firewood selection and splitting, bear safety, knot tying.

Canoeing (TBD, certified canoe instructor)

Other than hockey, there is nothing more Canadian than canoeing!  Learn the basics of canoeing with a certified canoe instructor.

LEARNING TOPICS: Canoe history and construction, open-water safety, trip planning, paddle strokes, rescue methods and navigation.  

Wetlands and Wildlife (Cathy Koot, RPBio, Research Coordinator, Alex Fraser Research Forest)

Southeast of camp, there is a large, fertile wetland teeming with biodiversity.  Visit the wetland with our in-house professional biologist to learn about wetland formation, why wetlands are such important ecosystems, what inhabitants you might find there, and some of the ways we work to preserve their function.

LEARNING TOPICS: Wetland formation processes, hydrologic function, insect, fish and wildlife ID, key characteristics of this habitat type, wildlife surveying methods.

Ecological Classification and Plant ID (Candy Lo and Skye Jarvis, Undergraduate Interns, Alex Fraser Research Forest)

Topography and climate influence the ecological condition of the forest, which is reflected by the soils, plants and growth rates.  Join two senior undergraduates as they explain those processes, teach plant ID and how forests are measured and described by forest professionals.

LEARNING TOPICS: Ecological classification, plant identification, tree measurements, soil properties, forest-level descriptions, measure tree heights, count tree ages, measure tree diameter.

Fire Science (Don Skea, RFT, Operations Supervisor, Alex Fraser Research Forest)

Wildfire requires the perfect set of conditions to burn, including fuel, temperature and humidity.  Forest condition, terrain and management actions can change the way a wildfire burns and the ways we can fight to extinguish those fires.  Hear from Don about his personal fire fighting experiences while he teaches you how to use the tools of the trade!

LEARNING TOPICS: Fire weather, fire behaviour, fire-fighting equipment (pump. pulaski, shovel, axe) use, axe sharpening.

Landscape Planning and Disturbance (Stephanie Ewen, RPF, Manager, Alex Fraser Research Forest)

British Columbia is full of publicly-owned wilderness.  We rely on the resources and services from the land to support our livelihoods and communities.  We also need to ensure those resources are available for future generations, even in the face of large-scale disturbance and wildfire.  Learn from the manager of the Alex Fraser Research forest how she evaluates land-management decisions. Engage in a multi-stakeholder debate to understand how values are managed in the British Columbia wilderness.

LEARNING TOPICS: Landscape-level planning, weighing multiple values, land management in British Columbia, Wildfire, Insects, climate change, sustainability.

Soils (UBC graduate research intern)

“Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals.” Aldo Leopold

Soils are the medium in which all life is based.  Learn about how soils are formed, what lives in them, how to describe it, and it’s structural properties.

LEARNING TOPICS: soil biology, chemistry and texture and their relationship to nutrition, and structural capacity.

Tuesday, August 7th - Thursday August 8th
Free Time & Evening Activities

The Gavin Lake Forest Education Centre is full of engaging activities for all-ages to explore on their own.  During free time, students can swim, play sports, hike, boulder, canoe, do archery or crafts or just relax by the lake for some down time.  Snacks and juice will be available during free time.

After dinner, students who completed the Backcountry Basics module during the day have the option to go on a short hike through the forest to set up camp and sleep in tents for the night.  Be aware, there are no facilities on this optional trip, just like it should be in the backcountry!

Those who are staying on-site will have nightly events and team-building activities tailored to the group’s preferences.  Some options include a hike after dark to listen for nocturnal wildlife, looking at the stars through the telescope, playing capture the flag, soccer, volleyball, charades, or doing a team orienteering challenge on the obstacle course.  Tea, hot chocolate and snacks will be available after dark.

Facilities Available During Free Time & Evening Activities

  • Canoes

  • Climbing / Bouldering Cave

  • Fire Pit (may be fire restrictions)

  • Volleyball

  • Basketball

  • Swimming

  • Wood Sauna

  • Walking Trails

  • Card and board games

  • Obstacle Course

  • Ping Pong (only available during inclement weather)

  • Pool Table (only available during inclement weather)

  • Recreation Room (only available during inclement weather)

  • ** There is no WiFi available at this facility, come prepared to expand your imagination! **

Friday August 9th
Williams Lake to Vancouver

Head back down the Fraser Canyon in the morning, ready to see and learn more about BC’s rich history in this area.  Again, the trip has been broken up to avoid too much time on the bus!

Hat Creek Ranch

First stop will be at the Historic Hat Creek Ranch for lunch and an opportunity to travel back in time to the late 19th century to observe the lifestyle of an HBC trader living on the gold rush route and to explore the historic lifestyle of the local Stuctwesemc First Nations.

LEARNING TOPICS: British Columbia History

Othello Tunnels

In the Coquihalla Gorge, the river cuts a 300-foot deep channel of solid granite. To traverse this gorge with the Canadian Pacific Railway in the early 1900s, a straight line of tunnels were built through the granite, known now as the Othello Tunnels.

LEARNING TOPICS: Hydrology of rivers, Canadian Pacific Railway, construction and infrastructure in the 1900s.