There are many things we have all missed out on over the past two years. As life continues to flow ever closer to normalcy, we are all benefiting from being able to do the things we have not been able to. One of those things here at the Academy is the annual expedition to Cedar Glen. Although we were able to do a day trip there last year, is it really a Cedar Glen trip if it isn’t overnight? This school year, the school was once again able to journey to our 262 Acre home away from home, a pilgrimage we look forward to with excitement.
Our trip this year started on Wednesday October 19. After packing up 3 buses with bags, students and staff, the school made its way to Schomberg Ontario where Cedar Glen is situated. As always, our trip began with the students rotating between volunteering on the farm and playing various field games led by the amazing Cedar Glen staff. After lunch the Navy and Maroon squads faced off in a forty five minute game of capture the flag. Students zipped, dodged and zagged to steal each others’ flags while trying to avoid capture. Having moved into cabins and with food in everyone’s belly, students spent the evening doing various indoor activities as the weather outside although not frightful was bad enough to prevent the campfire and night hike.
Thursday morning’s activities had students choosing to partake in one of several activities. While some tested their balance on the low ropes course or played various field or arctic games, others tried channelling their inner Legolas at the archery range. The main focus of Thursday, however, was the fourth annual instalment of the Academy Games. Although young in its inclusion into the Cedar Glen trip, the Academy Games has very quickly become a source of fierce competition between the school’s to squads. Reigning three time champions Maroon were looking to defend their unbroken streak of victories to steal a fourth win, while the Navy team aspired to dethrone Maroon’s string of successes.
After lunch, both squads gathered to receive this year’s team swag which were Navy and Maroon hoodies. With their newly acquired swag on, and some previous ones as well, both teams faced one another and cheered off, trying to outdo one another. When both teams quieted, the official start of the games was announced and both teams ventured to their first stations. After about two and a half hours, the squads slowly started gathering at the final station that pits Navy and Maroon in a fire building competition that is mired in much controversy. The Navy team was first to show up with two of its four squads. Eventually a Maroon team arrived and in the blink of an eye, all four teams from each squad were present.
After looking over penalties and rewards gathered during the game, it was an even start for both teams. With representatives chosen for each team, it was now up to a few members to build the fastest and tallest fire in order to burn through three heights of rope before the other team. Both teams started slowly, battling the dampness in a lot of the tinder, kindling and wood they had gathered from the multiple bouts of precipitation from the day before, and that very morning. Eventually, the Maroon team’s flames started to rise and reach ever higher. The Navy team battled relentlessly to catch up, but had difficulty getting their fire to hold long enough to ignite the larger pieces of kindling and wood. Eventually, time and circumstances conspired against a first ever Navy win, and with the third and highest rope burnt through, the Maroon squad secured its fourth straight Academy Games championship, and still remains undefeated.
Both sides walked back to the main cabin together for dinner. One student disclosed that they had hidden some wood for next year’s game! After dinner students finally got to enjoy the campfire that was cancelled the night before as well as a night hike for those who wanted one.
On our last day we took part in our usual ritual of doing more archery and playing the now infamous teachers vs. students animal survival game in the woods. Eating one last meal at lunch, students packed up the buses and headed back to the Academy. Despite the weather not being great the first two days, everyone toughed out the elements and had a great time. This year’s experience at Cedar Glen was special. It brought everyone another sense of normalcy from the past, and gave an opportunity for some to experience Cedar Glen in its truest form for the first time. We can’t wait to be back next year.
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