May 30, 2014 3:50 pm
Updated: May 30, 2014 5:59 pm

School board safety protocol leads to canceled Grade 8 graduation trip

TORONTO – It could have been the trip of a lifetime.

Grade 8 students at Amesbury Middle School were looking forward to a three day excursion to a camp in Bancroft to celebrate their graduation.

However, those plans were unexpectedly cut short because safety protocols had not been followed.

“I was looking forward to hanging out with my friends at camp to socialize outside the city,” Daniel Borshe, a student said. “I just wanted to make new friends in other classes but sadly the trip is over.”

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Parents and teachers were informed by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) superintendent that proper documentation was needed to ensure safety at Camp Walden in Bancroft, Ontario.

Despite planning beginning for the trip a year in advance, the staff was unaware swim tests had to be done and other safety protocols had to be in place.

Activities at the camp included archery, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and time by a campfire. In each of those cases, there must be a certain amount of adult supervision.

“At no time did we suggest that things weren’t allowed,” TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said. “We just want them to be done safely.”

Students were supposed to leave on June 10 but the staff at the school wasn’t informed in time to get all the paperwork done because of a “miscommunication.”

Former students at the school had made the trip in previous years and safety measures had been confirmed verbally, according to the TDSB.

“They have to make sure that all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed,” said personal injury lawyer Sandra Zisckind.

“Does it limit the activities? Absolutely, but there’s a reason to limit the activities.”

The Ontario Safety League suggests this could have been an opportunity for students to learn about safety while at the camp.

“I think teaching people to take risks safely is a skill set for life,” said President & CEO Brian Patterson. “Whether it’s on an obstacle course or any other activity.”

The school board also said only 30 per cent of students had paid the deposits needed for the trip and staff wanted more participation.

“I’m disappointed because we are paying to sleep in the cabins and walk around,” said student Andrea Lewis.

Plans have now been made for a one-day trip to Niagara Falls instead.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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