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A New Era in Outdoor Education

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John Bruno, Rose Burton Spohn, Louisa, Tiziana and Erica Brescacin

The Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board has dedicated two bunkies at the St. Kateri Outdoor Learning Centre.  The Brescacin Bunkies were dedicated in honour of the late Ron Brescacin, a former teacher who was the driving force behind the creation of the outdoor education site – formerly known as Camp Korah.  At a time when outdoor education was not a priority, Ron championed the programing and saw the value of experiential learning.

“It is with great pride that we dedicate these bunkies and honour a former staff member who was, in essence, the architect of what is now the St. Kateri Outdoor Learning Centre.  These buildings will allow us to greatly enhance what is already a fantastic learning space,” said Director of Education, Rose Burton Spohn.

“It was a beautiful tribute to the love and commitment my husband felt to his students and their learning in the classroom of Mother Earth.  A special thank you goes out to all who helped to make Ron’s dream a reality. Although Ron is gone, he lives on in the lives of those he touched.  All are welcome in this place.  It is a place for all to come and experience the embrace of Mother Earth: students, teachers and all Board staff,” said Luisa Brescacin, who performed the ribbon-cutting along with daughters Erica and Tiziana.

Erica, Louisa, Tiziana

“For my sister and I, this space was more than just an education facility, it was where we got to spend quality time with our father.  Through him, we gained an appreciation for the outdoors.  Our father also fostered our sense of adventure by encouraging us to independently explore the wilderness. This developed our appreciation for all living things,” said Erica.

The two bunkies will allow for overnight stays for students to extend their visits to the 160 acre parcel of land on the northwest edge of the city of Sault Ste. Marie.  They will also be available to staff who wish to participate in retreats or team building exercises.  The two bunkies, which can accommodate 15 people each, are insulated and have electrical access.

“Teachers and students can now look at St. Kateri as a year-end trip destination.  Classes can come for disc golf, soccer golf, hiking and co-operative games.  Students can explore our 180 acres of property during the day, while using one of our nine trails. In the evening, they can relax around our camp fire pit.  We are excited about possibilities,” said Outdoor Education Teacher, Jim Pedatella.

“There is no over-stating Ron’s role in outdoor education in our Board.  Without his perseverance and vision, our outdoor learning facility would not exist today. The dedication of the two bunkies in Ron’s name ensures that we will have a reminder of his contribution to this program for years to come,” said Eco-Edventure Teacher, Greg Sicoly.

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Greg Sicoly, Erica, Jim Pedatella, Tiziana, Steve Baum

“When I started working at St. Kateri, I was asked to lay out my long term goals. One thing that I wanted for St. Kateri was to provide the opportunity to offer an overnight experience for our students. I’m very pleased to see this come to fruition and to have been a part of the process.  Having the bunkies bear the name of Ron Brescacin is a fitting tribute to the man who saw the education potential of this beautiful place,” said retired Outdoor Education Teacher, Steve Baum.

The bunkies were constructed by students in the Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) Construction program at St. Mary’s College.

“All the students involved loved the experience.  They basically learned all the aspects of building a house from framing to siding. Even students, who started the project and graduated last spring, stopped by the school to see how the project was progressing.  It’s a big source of pride for them,” said SHSM Construction teacher, Craig Pierman.

Students in the SHSM program will wrap up the project by pouring concrete foundations for the bunkies and hooking up the electrical service.