The Toronto Catholic District School Board sponsors over 80, 5‑day Community Living - Outdoor Education excursions throughout the school year.
Mansfield is one of five sites used by the Toronto Catholic District School Board for the Community Living ‑ Outdoor Education Program.
Mansfield is located on Airport Road approximately 110 kilometres Northwest of Toronto. Mansfield Outdoor Centre offers a wide range of activities over its 300 hectares. Mansfield supports two outdoor education centres: the Mansfield Field Centre and the facility we will be attending known as Mansfield’s Main Lodge.
Mansfield Main Lodge is a large facility designed to accommodate over 90 students. The main buildings are snuggled into the base of the Oak Ridges Moraine. It is here that students will spend much of their time.
Mansfield offers the students an opportunity to see some unique wildlife …
. . . as well as more familiar animals.
Mansfield Main Lodge consists of a large dining/classroom facility …
And small cabins for the students. Each cabin can accommodate up to 6 students.
The program at Mansfield is a balance between the two areas of study: SPIRITUAL GROWTH AND OUTDOOR EDUCATION. The overall goal of the week is to provide students with an opportunity to enjoy a break from city life and to help them explore their relationship with other students, the environment and their relationship with God, all organised around a community building experience.
The students will leave the school after 9 am and arrive at Mansfield between 10:30 and 11:00 am. The first order of business is to unload the bus.
Prior to unpacking or even going to the bedrooms the students have a meeting with the Program Director to set out the various rules and guidelines students are expected to follow throughout the week. Then it will be time to get the bedrooms organised.
Newly arrived students are usually hungry so once settled in it is usually time for a nutritious and delicious lunch. Outdoor education periods start immediately after lunch and last the rest of the day.
A typical day at Mansfield starts early.
One of the most important parts of any residential facility is the food. The food at Mansfield is abundant and great tasting. Nutritious, “kid-friendly” meals are prepared in modern, well equipped kitchens. Each day starts with a good breakfast.
Students eat at the Main Lodge’s Dining Hall. All dining halls at Mansfield offer the students an abundant view of the outdoors.
A warm wood stove in the main dining hall is a welcome addition on those cold mornings. Outdoor activities start shortly after breakfast.
The outdoor education activities are varied and are chosen by the school staff in consultation with the program director at Mansfield. The activities are taught by Mansfield staff. The next slides outline a few of the many activities available to the school.
One of the most active programs offered at Mansfield is Orienteering. Students learn to use maps and compasses to complete two courses spread out around the Mansfield property. The first course is a practice course. On the second more demanding course students work in pairs to find their way around the property. To make this part really challenging students are scored and timed on this course.
One of the reasons Canada was explored was to tap the wealth of furs found here. Students explore this unique world in an activity called “The Fur Trade”. Students take on the role of fur traders or “Coureurs de Bois”; the “Runners of the Woods” as the French called them. Students have to use map skills to find villages and then use trade goods to trade for furs and make a profit. Students learn not only how difficult life could be but that surviving in Canada was not easy.
An activity that explores Canada’s past is called, “The Settlers’ Game”. In this activity students take on the role of farmers trying to establish themselves. Students learn about day to day decision making and what life was like as a settler in Ontario around 1850.
Inside the barn is a professionally designed and built low elements ropes course. This course helps students develop leadership skills and fosters community development.
Learning to survive in the wild is the objective of the "Wilderness Skills' activity. Students are taught how to survive if they ever became lost in the wild. Making a shelter is one of the most important skills needed to survive.
Students become particularly proud of their shelters.
In addition to shelter building students learn how to set, light and maintain a fire.
When winter comes Mansfield offers other activities, such as cross-country skiing and
A very exciting game played at Mansfield is “Wolf Prowl”. Students wear coloured vests indicating the role they are playing. It is a big game of tag. Through hunting, being hunted and searching for food and water stations students develop an understanding of what it is like to be an animal in the wild. A variation of this game is called “Instincts for Survival”.
The Instincts for Survival and Wolf Prowl games are based on the food chain.
Sometimes life as an animal can become pretty tiring.
An opportunity to see the night sky without the interference of city lights is an experience students will never forget.
Souvenir making has become a very popular activity. Students make wood medallions. After sanding the medallions, students use the themes of community to draw illustrations and write phrases on the disk. The disks are podgied (varnished) to seal them and give them a shiny finish. A hole is drilled into the disk and a lanyard is used so students can wear the disk around their necks.
Students do have supervised free time. Most of the time and weather permitting students are expected to be outside.
Basketball is a very popular activity as is. A ll students are encouraged to spend as much time as possible outdoors.
In the evening or on bad weather days students can play indoor games such as board games, cards or even reading.
The evenings at Mansfield are devoted to community building activities. These may include discussion groups, role-playing, writing assignments in a journal as well as many other activities that promote the development of community.
The evening themes are chosen and taught by the school staff. In the journal there are diary pages. This allows students to keep track of what happens during a very full week. These journals are given to the students after the trip.
Students are divided into duty groups. When students are on duty they help by setting tables and preparing the dining hall for each meal.
The friendly Mansfield staff serves the food. The weekly menu is carefully designed to cater to students' needs and tastes. Even though waste is composted, Mansfield staff is particularly vigilant that students do not waste food. The rule is simple, if you take it, you eat it.
If your son or daughter is a big eater, don't worry seconds are always available. Dessert is part of most meals with fruit a very popular choice.
Mansfield staff can look after special diets or events.
At the Main Lodge students stay in individual small cabins.
There are bunk beds and regular beds in the cabins for the students. There are up to 6 students per cabin.
The students have access to showers and washrooms in a separate building.
There are some board rules and regulations that are part of any school trip. Students are not allowed to carry their own medications. All medications, even over-the-counter drugs, are to be placed In a container clearly labelled with the student's name and dosage. This is given to the teacher who will provide security for the medication in order that students can have access to it as needed.
Students are not allowed to bring any electronic devises such as: ipods, radios, televisions, stereos, video games, telephones or alarm clock radios. Flashlights are at the discretion of the school.
Students are not allowed, nor do they need, any junk food. All snacks are provided at Mansfield. This policy prevents mice from entering any building.
Students are encouraged to bring a camera. Since there is no place to buy anything students should bring enough film to last the whole week.
There is a pay phone for the students. Students are encouraged to call home, during free time, and let their family know how they are getting along. No money is needed for this. Students can call collect, use a calling card or a pre-paid long distance card.
The themes of environmental awareness and appreciation of God's creation are found in many areas of the curriculum. This is stressed as part of all Mansfield programmes.
One of the most rewarding results of a trip to Mansfield is the deepening of friendships and the making of new friends. The overall theme of the week is "community". Groups that work hard and are successful can continue to grow as a community throughout the school year.
Before you know, it's Friday! Time to head home and keep community alive and growing! Students will leave Mansfield after lunch on Friday and be back at school around 3:00. After a week at Mansfield students are usually a closer-knit community. Most students would like to stay for another week, however, all good things have to end.
Mansfield main lodge presentation
TORONTO CATHOLICDISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD OUTDOOR EDUCATION DEPARTMENT