Building Leadership and Legacy in the Haliburton Highlands

James Darling, Director of Character and Leadership Development
HTS has a long tradition of building leadership and service initiatives that ask students to lead in the service of others. Nowhere was this on greater display than the recent Grade 5-6 and 11-12 Breakaway trip to Camp Timberlane. As part of a growing focus on developing our students’ leadership skills by creating experiences that offer character building as a definite outcome, this year’s Breakaway offered all students the opportunity to move away from their busy lives and to spend an extended amount of time building important skillsets in the great outdoors.

For their week at camp, the Grade 11 students had the chance to pick one of two leadership streams. The Leadership in Practice group were trained to be counsellors for the younger students and spent the week teaching, guiding, and at times comforting their younger charges. The Leadership in Development stream spent time in rotational groups participating in all manner of camp experiences from high ropes to archery tag while reflecting on how each activity built leadership skills and character. The Leaders in Development group also used those skills to plan and lead the entire camp in a powerful closing ceremony.

The Grade 12 students spent the week thinking about their important final year ahead. Sessions led by Ms Tracy Howard and Mr. Steve Poplar, both faculty, focused on understanding themselves and coming to appreciate the strengths of others in their grade. Questions related to the university application process were asked and answered and a full day hike offered the grade a chance to share more of their hopes and fears for the year ahead. The 12s also led the entire camp in the first, and hopefully annual, Holy Trinity Games house competition. There were many memorable moments of collaboration across ages and grades throughout the week, but the Games took it to another level with Grades 5 and 11 students competing together in a three-legged race and Grades 6 and 12 students racing their canoes across the lake. Indeed, it was in those moments where the 12s were leaving one of their most important legacies.

The Grade 5 and 6 students had their own incredible adventures alongside their older peers. Running Pictionary, campfires and a carnival night organized by the Grade 11 counsellors were all big hits as were the chances to climb, swim, paddle and play together. In the middle of it all there was still time to catch a snake, have some ice cream, shoot a few hoops and make a new friend. Along the way, ALIVE Outdoors staff worked with and beside the Grade 11 counsellors making sure everyone was learning skills properly, being safe and having fun.  

And as they head into the new school year and begin to focus on the incredible learning available in their classrooms, the students lucky enough to have attended Camp Timberlane will hopefully carry many powerful and productive memories with them. Whether it was a moment around the campfire, a shared laugh in the dining hall, a glorious paddle on the lake, or perhaps new success on a ropes course, these Lower and Senior School students can all think back to how they worked and played together – starting the year as a community – one united by an incredible common experience and a magic that can only be found at camp.