NDSS program helping students fall in love with the outdoors

By Ian Holmes
September 29, 2018 - 10:19am Updated: October 1, 2018 - 10:43am

submitted/Franjo Crnkovic

Cabela's Canada recently stepped up to support the unique program.Submitted

NANAIMO — A unique NDSS course allowing students to explore nature, gain basic survival skills and learn about outdoor-related jobs is surging in popularity.

West Coast Wilderness Studies (WCWS) instructor Franjo Crnkovic said the elective course for grades nine through 12 has grown to 90 students. It started with just 17 students four years ago at Woodlands Secondary School, spawned from a school-based fishing club Crnkovic started.

"If you're passionate about something you probably can do it for a living, you don't always have to go to the stereotypical traditional routes, there are amazing things you can do,” Crnkovic said. “It seems like the students in this course are more engaged, it's something that excites them and I truly believe it helps them in their other studies.”

Students go on hiking and camping outings, as well as learn about various outdoor-based jobs and how to start a career being in nature. They're also taught how to live more sustainable lives and attain numerous certifications, including first-aid, rock climbing and boating.

Crnkovic said the program focuses on cheap adventures for the students, including a six-day camping trip in Nootka Sound, to show how easy it is to enjoy the outdoors.

“I think a lot of the kids either don't have the means to get out there or don't have the parents that are able to take them or just don't have the understanding.”

WCWS currently teaches all grades at the same time, though it's hoped a curriculum tailored for each grade will be offered in the future.

Cabela's Canada recently presented WCWS with a $5,000 grant, which Crnkovic called a “critical development” in helping to keep costs for students at a minimum.


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