Sooke School District students learn about nature and survival skills during the French Nature Camp during spring break last year.

Sooke School District students learn about nature and survival skills during the French Nature Camp during spring break last year.

SD62 spring break camp explores vive la différence

French immersion students learn survival skills in the great outdoors

French immersion students in the Sooke School District have a chance to sharpen their second language skills in an outdoor environment that focuses on fun as much as learning a new language.

Participants in the French Nature Camp are expected to speak “en Français” to staff, volunteers and other students for the duration of the outing, planned for spring break from March 20 to 31 at Camp Barnard in Sooke.

The day camp aims to forge strong ties to nature with a focus on food, water, fire, shelter, safety and navigation.

Local high school students in immersion programs serve as volunteers and assistants, to ensure the transition to French is an easy one during the camp, said Cendra Beaton, president of the Sooke District chapter of Canadian Parents for French, British Columbia and Yukon.

“Last year’s camp was so much fun, like an Olympics in the woods,” she said. “It really made a difference in the students’ learning and confidence.”

Activities such as a treasure hunt that had the children exploring their surroundings, and learning how to read bird calls to be alert for predators, were very well received, she said. “They learned survival skills they would not get elsewhere.”

Beaton said it was rewarding to hear a parent of one participating student share that, although their child initially had doubts about the camp, the week made a significant difference to their confidence and abilities in French.

“The emphasis on having fun and exploring the natural world promotes fluency and natural conversational skills,” she said.

A valid CPF membership is required to participate in the camp. The cost of the camp is $150 per student. Parents without a CPF membership must add an additional $25 to cover the cost of a one-year registration. Twin rates for two campers from the same family are available for $250 for CPF members and $275 for non-CPF members.

To register or for more information, check out CPFSooke@hotmail.com.

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com