What is the Bark Lake Advantage?
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to lead an Information Session we were running for one of the new Schools coming to Bark Lake this Spring. The Public School, on the other side of Toronto, had decided to stop sending their Grade 8 graduate trip to Ottawa: instead their Class of 2015 would be getting a 3-day Bark Lake adventure. I made my way down to make a presentation and showcase who we are and what we do while answering any questions the students and parents might have – a free service we offer to all our school groups.
This particular night one of the parents stood up and asked a great question. “I see all your photos and heard what activities you guys offer,” he told me. “But I send my kid to summer camp every year and he gets to go canoeing, and climb a High Ropes course, and shoot a bow and arrow. What makes Bark Lake any different than what he does there?”
Bark Lake brings a focus on personal development and leadership education.
I replied that it was about intentionality. Where these summer camps offer opportunities for kids to have fun paddling, climbing, shooting, meeting people, and exploring nature; Bark Lake brings a focus on personal development and leadership education.
“It’s still fun,” I explained. “We just don’t stop at fun. Our team of facilitators are qualified to help diagnose the team and individuals’ needs, to modify their programming to address those needs, and to lead a reflective observation of why we did that activity and how that can play into their lives outside of Bark Lake.”
At Bark Lake we work to facilitate powerful experiences. When we run a voyageur canoe period, we use the canoes as tools to build a team. When we head out on a snowshoe hike, the important thing isn’t that we’re snowshoeing, it’s understanding the different roles people have in any group. Our survival skills program won’t equip you with all the skills and knowledge to go live in the forest, but it will help you to learn to take care of yourself, plan ahead and mentor others.
Our activities serve as a backdrop, the real learning and personal development is all in how we deliver those activities. That’s the Bark Lake Advantage.
~ Dylan Reinhart