Helping students experience education outside the classroom has long been a priority for RJC. From class retreats at Shekinah Retreat Centre, to ALSO trips to places like Guatemala or Saskatoon, RJC knows the value of getting students immersed in the world around them. So when an 80 acre plot of land near Duck Lake became available in February 2021 the school was tempted to purchase it. They could imagine taking students to spend time among the spruce, trembling aspens, wild roses and strawberries while observing the deer, elk, porcupines, birds and other animals. They would spend time learning from God’s creation around them.
But the timing just wasn’t right and the school chose not to purchase the property.
Then last fall, that dream started to become a reality. Generous donors, who wish to remain anonymous, approached RJC with the offer to buy the same land and donate it to the school. “The money we used was part of a gift to us. We wanted this donation to be a first fruit offering,” they said. “We hope RJC can make use of this gift to support creative and innovative out-of classroom learning experiences.”
They were impressed by the work that RJC is already doing with the IMAGINE, THRIVE, EXPLORE and BELONG initiatives and ALSO week, and they hope this gift can be another way to offer students new and experiential education. That vision is exactly what RJC hopes to do with the space, what they’re now calling the outdoor classroom. “We are increasingly trying to be more intentional about exposing students to environmental stewardship and opportunities to be outdoors and connect with the land,” says principal Ryan Wood. “I would envision using this space to take biology, science, phys ed. social studies, Indigenous studies, and Christian ethics classes, along with day retreats or campfires for students.” The donors also hope that the school will continue to steward the land well for future generations, and that it might be an opportunity to work towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, something RJC is interested in as well. “We want to learn more about what it means to connect with Indigenous communities in the area, and we are looking for ways to share this space in a responsible way,” says Alex Tiessen, director of development.
RJC is extraordinarily grateful for this generous gift that will provide creative, and experiential education opportunities for many years to come.