As every year, CAS Week 2018 saw our students engaged in a variety of adventures, service projects or honing their creative skills. While the campus was fairly quiet with all of the students and most faculty gone, students were taking part in 24 different CAS Week activities across Vancouver Island, The Gulf Islands and Vancouver. There was a group of students working with the Victoria Brain Injury Society and another group on Saltspring Island supporting seniors at Braehaven Assisted Living. We had students teaching dance with Victoria Highschool and others getting certified in mental health first aid. There were over 50 students that took part in outdoor trips that ranged from hiking in Cape Scott Provincial Park to paddling in the Broken Group National Park Reserve.

”I am always amazed by the variety of projects proposed by our students, faculty and staff. It is a lot of work getting every group organized and ready to go, but so very rewarding when I get to hear the stories and see the pictures at the end of the week!” states Travis Young, Activities Coordinator at Pearson College UWC.

Here are some impressions from this year’s activities:

A group of students from the Wilderness CAS hiked the Cape Scott Trail on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, braving some rainy weather to have an authentic West Coast experience. Aude, a first-year student from Quebec, was awed by the experience: “I think the biggest highlight of my week was the nature. Coming from the east side of the country, I’m not used to the rainforest – the trees looked like giants, the ferns were way too green to be real, and the ocean was spectacular!”

Members of the Paddle Sports CAS also had a rather wet, if invigorating, adventure paddling in canoes around the Broken Group Islands off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Noeli, who completed this expedition for her second year in a row, loved seeing her fellow students experience wilderness camping for the first time. “It was their first time staying in the outdoors,” she recounts, “and it was marvelous to see them grow as they slowly adapted to the minimalist lifestyle. We bonded over water-logged boots, oatmeal in the morning, wet socks and ukulele songs around the bonfire.”

The Outrigger Canoe CAS students also used their week away from campus to hone their paddling skills, as well as taking the opportunity to connect with other like-minded watersport enthusiasts. They ventured to Powell River on the mainland of BC, where they practiced with local paddlers in preparation for their upcoming canoe race. They also volunteered their time to help some local residents with garden work, showing their gratitude to the community for hosting them.

One of our second-year Outrigger Canoe CAS members, appreciated the chance to increase his leadership skills during the week. “For me, being a leader was the most educational part of the experience,” he said. “My co-leader and I got to experience leadership and decision-making, and I think we were able to keep the group on track.”

Other students took the opportunity to build their fundraising and presentation skills, while helping to further causes they are passionate about. Members of the PC KULE CASKULE is a non-profit working to raise funds to support community-based projects in Kenya – spent the week in Victoria connecting with local businesses and community groups to solicit support, and presenting on KULE’s work at local middle schools. They even organized a pen-pal writing session to connect youth here to those in Kenya. An important part of CAS week is making and strengthening connections with individuals outside the campus community, and second-year student Foday found this one of the highlights of the week. “I stayed with a wonderful host family – the same ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ that I stayed with during my first few days in Canada!’ – and had a chance to get to know some of my fellow students better as well.”

Still other students found CAS Week an excellent opportunity to develop their inner artist and performer. Members of Pearson Dancers CAS spent the week in Victoria taking dance lessons in a variety of styles with local residents. “It was a humbling experience to have to work hard to catch up with others who were already familiar with the choreography.” one of our first-year students said. “It was challenging and bonding for us as a group. We had to learn a lot very quickly and I definitely garnered a new appreciation for my peers and their abilities.”

Members of the Victoria Brain Injury Society (VBIS) CAS spent the week learning more about individuals living with brain injuries, and the tragic consequences of excessive use of drugs and alcohol. The students gained first-hand experience in fundraising for VBIS, calling and emailing potential donors while also having the chance to meet and converse with many people who are supported by VBIS. The student co-leader of this CAS found the experience highly impactful: “Meeting people living with a brain injury, hearing their stories and how they overcome challenges daily had a great impact on me. I couldn’t help but feel the desire to one day support an organization like VIBS and the people they serve.”

Check out all the images we received from CAS Week 2018 on our Flickr profile.