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Getting to know you

Good times and a few lessons learned at Saamba Deh Park

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Oct 11/02) - Not all people get along, but the chances vastly improve if they know each other on a personal level.

With that in mind, 31 junior high students from Thomas Simpson school and several teachers boarded a bus and headed a few hours down the highway to picturesque Saamba Deh Park on Sept. 25.

Their three-day camping trip was a chance for students to bond with their peers and their teachers.

"We get to know them on a different level and they get to know us on a different level," teacher Teresa Bezanson-Byatt said.

For Jeff Cressman, a new teacher at the school, the retreat gave the students a chance to see "that I'm human."

Raymond Horassi, a staff member who also went along as a chaperon, already knows some of the students, but he said he sensed a real difference among them in that outdoor environment.

"Everybody became a family there. Everybody looked out for one another," Horassi said.

They cooked food together and ate together, including what special needs assistant Wesley Hardisty described as "Mackenzie Highway Special," also known as "road chicken" or grouse.

They went for nature walks as a group and endured the cool nights as a collective.

Shannon Cazon, a Grade 9 student, said the teachers helped to ensure everyone had a good time.

"Some of the new teachers have a really good sense of humour," Cazon said.

Skyler Tanche, who is in Grade 8, played a little doubles crib against his classroom mentors. He and his partner won a game and lost a game, he said.

Cressman noted that the teachers were able to slip in a few lessons here and there. For example the students collected fossils for study.

"They were actually learning and they didn't realize it," he said.