In partnership with Parks Canada working with staff at their Wood Buffalo National Park, the Wilderness Bondar Challenge was first offered as a pilot in Fall 2012, and is now offered each year in the Fall.
Developed for youth from the Fort Smith area in the Northwest Territories, the Wilderness Bondar Challenge is held at the Sweetgrass Field Station. Students participating are from P.W. Kaeser High School.
The Challenge takes place over six days and involves travelling 130 km by bus to the Peace River, 70 km by boat and a 12 km hike through the wilderness to reach the site near the Athabasca Delta where biomes of forest, wetlands and rivers meet to form an area of cultural and natural importance. Combining learning about Aboriginal culture, biology and landscapes, elements of the Bondar Challenge and program at Sweetgrass tie into the curriculum in various core subjects providing a retreat-like experience for youth, many of whom are aboriginal.
Goals of the Wilderness Bondar Challenge:
- To help participants develop a lifelong affinity for both the joy of photography and the love of nature
- To provide an environmental and artistic learning opportunity for students and leaders
- To help students use the camera to ‘see’ the environment around them with a discerning eye and mind
- To teach students how to use cameras as an effective means of capturing images and concepts
- To help students articulate their feelings about what they see and express those feelings clearly
- To help students understand the science contained within the art