John Fallis

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The Journal of Experiential Education

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It's so nice here compared to Toronto. The air is fresh and the water is so clear. You people don't have any problems.

The city is such a polluted mess. I'd like to help out but I don't know where to start, plus, it seems hopeless!

These are comments of frustrated, environmentally aware high school students who have participated in residential school programs at the Boyne River outdoor and environmental education centre. During their stay of up to a week, their lives have been enriched through a range of outdoor, hands-on, learning experiences. They may have gained a new perspective of the land through cross-country skiing. They may have learned something of the diversity of life through a stream study. Students may have challenged themselves through ropes-course activities and gained self-confidence. Through regular informal evaluations with students and teachers, we felt we were achieving many of our goals. The students reported more knowledge and awareness of their environment. They often developed a greater feeling of self-worth and a greater understanding of each other. Despite this positive feedback, this new understanding about themselves and the environment was not the leading to responsible environmental behavior, but instead to frustration and apathy. Our students are aware of current environmental problems, but they don't know what to do or how to do it. Our objective was to develop a program which culminated in positive environmental action.