White Pine is a five-day leadership camp in September for all grade 10 students, often described as a life-changing experience by participants. The benefits don’t end there – the entire school thrives afterwards. Learn why ECI Principal, Mrs. Rath, and Ms. Stapleton, Assistant Curriculum Leader for Student Leadership, believe that White Pine is an opportunity that students should not miss and why students agree.
The lead-up to White Pine requires a full year of planning. Older students are busy completing applications to become Program Leaders and if successful will attend in-depth training seminars before they go. A selected 12-member student Executive coordinates and prepares the entire team while organizing and planning five days of activities from dawn to dusk that will help students build confidence, encourage positive risk-taking and ultimately nurture leadership and growth.
“White Pine Leadership Camp is an integral part of the ECI educational experience and it’s the differentiating opportunity that separates us from other schools,” says, Mrs. Rath. “We continue to value, support and invest in leadership because students are able to utilize their new skills not only in the classroom but in all facets of life, long after they finish at ECI.”
In addition to the student commitment involved in White Pine, there are also up to 25 teachers either recommending students, reviewing applications or participating in a selection process for Program Leaders and Executive members. “It’s a complex process that we have fine-tuned for over 25 years,” says Ms. Stapleton, “and one the teachers and students dissect annually to build upon the previous year’s success.”
Besides White Pine, there is also a leadership camp held at Albion Hills in February for grade 9 students who have been recommended by at least two teachers. “The criteria remains the same whether it’s for grade 9 leadership camp or White Pine – teachers review students’ marks, attendance and late arrivals – all good indicators of commitment and reliability,” says Ms. Stapleton. “Although marks are reviewed to ensure that candidates maintain a 60% average, attitude and behaviour are just as important in our opinion. It’s part of White Pine’s appeal, building special niches, ones where students can shine and be a leader outside of the athletic and academic realm at school.”
Once all grade 9 students are selected, their names are put into a lottery for 40 spots divided between girls and boys. Although grade 9 leadership camp is run on a much smaller scale, it too follows ECI’s commitment to leadership and building relationships. “It’s really about paying it forward,” says Ms. Stapleton, “and it’s effective because we see these students move up the leadership chain in skill and maturity.”
The new ECI Leadership Certificate Program that began last Fall is derived in part from the success of the White Pine Leadership camp. Both will complement each other while providing benefits to incoming and existing students. “The best investment parents can make in their children’s education at ECI is to send them to White Pine Leadership Camp,” says Ms. Stapleton. “The skills developed are invaluable for their future, regardless of the career path they choose."
Cost for White Pine is $335 for the 5 days and it includes all food and accommodations. Vice Principals Ms. Greeley and Mr. Genge can discuss financial aid options with families that require assistance. Also, ECI coordinates an annual "Send Another Kid to Camp," campaign. Parents sending their child to White Pine are asked if they can make a donation to help cover the full or partial cost for other students that may not be able, for financial reasons, to take advantage of this invaluable program. The Rai$e-a-Ruckus campaign organized by your Student Council Fundraising Committee also annually dedicates funds to families that need assistance for camp.
“I was really skeptical going into White Pine. All the older kids talked about how amazing White Pine was for them and how it made everyone come together as friends. When we got off the buses, I knew they were right. All of the counsellors and program leaders tried their hardest to make White Pine amazing and they did. I became so close with everyone and it really was a life changing experience. I look at my classmates now as family.”Grade 10 student
“I learned that just because White Pine Camp ends, it doesn’t mean that the friendships do. This is what White Pine is all about – making bonds with people that last. I was nervous that when we returned to school that the leaders and counsellors in the older grades wouldn’t talk to me. I was wrong. After White Pine, ECI felt more like a community than ever.” Grade 10 student
“White Pine was the greatest experience I had over my four years at ECI. Spending five days up at camp with your peers as a camper is an amazing bonding experience, but the real reward comes as a Program Leader. Watching campers grow and change over just a few days is incredible. When a grade 10 student looks at you and says, ‘This has completely changed my life,’ it makes all of the time and effort put into planning such an elaborate camp worth it.” Alumni
"What makes ECI's leadership program unique is how it brings the school together - regardless of your age - into one collective student body. It’s a camp for students run by students. Everyone takes ownership and deep pride in making it the best it can be. You learn the fundamentals of leadership from older students and pass on the important ECI traditions including: White Pine, 12 Hour Run and Grade 9 Leadership." Alumni
“The energy, atmosphere and diverse group of students make White Pine a special experience. Stepping out of your comfort zone in high school isn’t easy, yet that’s what happens with almost every camper. The campers seem to discover new sides of themselves through their skilled Program Leaders. White Pine was the best part of my high school experience at ECI.” Alumni