Trampoline

Trampolines are, objectively, a total blast. Students were taken to the Sky Zone in Mississauga and, according to Morris Chen, Grade 11, one of the highlights from this year’s trip was getting to play trampoline volleyball—which turns out to be not that much different from regular volleyball, except, well, you’re on a trampoline, and fouls are probably a lot more common. Did I mention you’re on a trampoline?

Overall Rating: 5/5

Skating

Skating at Harbourfront Centre is a nice go-to option as long as you have friends, know how to skate, and don’t mind the cold.

Anyone who’s been skating before knows that, really, that’s all there is to it—skating in circles for four hours, talking with friends between your chattering teeth, contemplating your place in the universe.

This activity is not recommended for rookie skaters (no lessons were provided), the weak at heart (with wind chill, temperatures dipped below -30°C), and those who despise the directionlessness of “hanging out.”

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Winterfest skating

Skating at Harbourfront Centre was a popular option for Winterfest. Photo: Khadija Jawwad

Pottery

Pottery at the Harbourfront Centre is recommended for those lost arts-and-crafts souls who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. Students toured the centre, looked at works of art, saw craftspeople in action, and attended a workshop. They were given the opportunity to craft their own vessel out of clay.

Students had fun letting their creative spirit loose. The only mild complaint was that more time would have been ideal to add more detail to their masterpieces, but overall, students were immensely satisfied with the day.

Word is, one guy even made a rocket.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Snow Tubing at The ROC

Simply put, snow tubing at The ROC was fun. For two hours, students tubed down four slopes made only accessible to MGCI students. Though there were many positive comments, many participants would have preferred the event to be longer.

Tubing styles varied – some enjoyed the slopes for larger groups, while others found the individual or pairs slopes more to their taste.

“When we were traveling in pairs, we put our legs on the other person’s tube and then held each other’s boots instead of handles. It was awesome; we kept spinning round and round,” said Rabia Mahmood, Grade 12.

Tubes, helmets, and a pizza lunch were provided, so what more could you ask for?  According to one Grade 12 student, “One improvement could be the slopes. The higher, the better.”

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Skiing at Horseshoe Valley Ski Resort

Pros of the trip: lessons are provided for beginners, students have the run of the resort from their arrival at 9 am to their departure at 3 pm, and skiing is, well, fun. Mostly everyone who attended this activity this year went away extremely satisfied.

If you ignore the freezing winter temperatures (the cold is just part of the experience, right?) there was really only one downside to this trip: the long bus ride. Students had to arrive at the school at the ungodly hour of 6:45 am, and were due to return by 6 pm. However, partway into the drive back, it was discovered that a Grade 11 student had been left at the ski resort, and the bus had to double back to retrieve him.

Final verdict—Horseshoe Valley is a must-go, but be warned that Marc Garneau takes the maxim “Leave no man behind” very seriously.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Toronto Zoo

Though a cold weather alert was in effect, the temperature didn’t deter brave students from wandering the zoo.

“It was an awesome trip and I really liked how they gave us a lot of independence on the trip. It’s not every day you can see the animals without having hundreds of people shoving you aside and trying to take pictures of the animals,” said Sophia Song, Grade 11.

One Grade 12 student, Rida Fatima, even claims to have seen an alligator head emerge from an egg.

It was the perfect day to visit the Toronto Zoo. Humphrey, the zoo’s baby polar bear, was spending one of his last few days in the zoo. CP24, Toronto mayor John Tory, and other news channels arrived for the memorable occasion. Good luck in the future, baby Humphrey!

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

First Aid & CPR Training

In case of emergency, CPR and First Aid are important skills to have.

Students who attended were impressed with the instructor, who was a firefighter. She taught them about life-saving as a profession.

“I had the opportunity to learn firsthand about how to save lives, and the current techniques to employ when someone is choking or not breathing. This could really be a useful skill in the future, in case it is ever needed,” said Justina Ilevbare, Grade 12.

Suggestions for future improvements included having more demonstrations to reinforce ideas taught during the session.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Rinx

Students were given the opportunities to play laser tag, mini golf and a game of bumper carts. However, students felt that the availability of free choice led to long lineups and the inability to try every activity. Though it was fun, students felt that better options were available.

Overall Rating: 4/5

HoopDome

A faction of ball-loving students was taken to Toronto’s very own HoopDome, described (by its own website) as “Canada’s premier multi-court basketball only facility.” Students on this trip played basketball for about 3 to 4 hours.

It was a fun and fantastic workout—which made the lack of provisions a common source of distress.

“What could have been improved was the snack situation,” says Vasu Dhirar, a Grade 12 student on the trip.

“They should provide free Gatorade,” says Prince Kamanyi, Grade 10.

Dhirar pleads, “Order a pizza or something.”

Overall Rating: 4/5

Rock Climbing

At the Toronto Climbing Academy, students climbed walls, and contemplated the meaning of life. They also learned to tie proper knots and to belay each other in teams of three.

Students praised the excellent guidance and demonstrations provided by the instructors. However, since a lot of time was spent on getting equipment and learning safety procedures, some students wished they were allowed more time on the walls. Regardless, students with all levels of rock climbing ability overcame new challenges and had fun doing it.

Overall Rating: 4/5

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Rock climbing at the Toronto Climbing Academy. Photo: Rebecca Wong

Bowling

Bowling in groups of five, students strengthened friendships and formed new bonds while surrounded by the lyrical sounds of falling white pins.

Attendees praised the low cost and the sheer, simple fun of a good old bowling alley, as well as the unique opportunity to observe their teachers having fun and channeling the raw, primal spirit of competition.

“It’s pretty refreshing to see your teachers in their natural state, and how their demeanour can change pretty drastically,” says Aahan Rashid, Grade 12. “There was screaming abound. The enthusiasm from a successful strike was always in the air.”

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Mini Indy

This popular activity gives students the opportunity to go go-kart racing and play glow-in-the-dark mini golf. Though that is guaranteed fun, not everything was smooth sailing.

According to one unhappy camper, “right from the morning, everything was disorganized and chaotic.” The bus arrived late, no disciplinary action was given to students who hogged the go-kart track, and miscalculations led to the pizza being distributed unevenly.

Grouses the dissatisfied student, who shall remain anonymous, “What could have been better? Everything.”

Other attendees were more forgiving.

“Maybe the organization of the teams could’ve been better,” admits one student. “It’s understandable, though. Forty students is a lot to look after, especially if they’re all so eager to get on the track.”

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

TIFF Bell Lightbox

This event is relatively new to the Winterfest scene—and, this year, was a resounding success. In this unique workshop, students were led through the basic process behind making a film.

Students wrote scripts, voted on their favourite one, and then filmed that script using professional equipment. Each student became comfortable with their role in the film crew, whether they were directing, working with the cameras, acting, or operating professional sound equipment.

Steven Spielberg would be proud.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

CN Tower

A simple trip ideal for students who—for shame—have never visited the CN Tower.

Students walked around downtown Toronto, checked out the view from the famous CN Tower glass floor, and watched a video about the revolution of Toronto streetcars. New heights of excitement were surely reached.

Overall Rating: 4/5

ROM

Students and teachers went on a guided museum tour that brought them from dinosaurs to Egyptian mummies to the history of armour. Also, rocks!

“My favourite part was going to see all the precious gems that the ROM had,” says Robert Lao. “I especially enjoyed seeing my birthstone.”

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Food Tour

The food tour was the Winterfest option for true Torontonians—a walking food tour in -30 °C weather, celebrating our metropolis values of gluttony and multiculturalism. Students roamed St. Lawrence market and sampled foods ranging from Toronto’s renowned peameal bacon, to Ukrainian pierogi, to fancy cheeses that no one really knows the names of.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Porter Airlines

With only five students attending, the Billy Bishop Airport tour was one of the most exclusive trips Winterfest offers. Students visited the hangars, hung out at the on-site fire station and were given opportunities to try on a full set of firefighter gear. They also checked out the inside of the air traffic control tower, and relaxed for a bit inside a live airplane right before the passengers began to board.

Perhaps most excitingly, students were driven to the airport by Garneau’s own PC Sirbos (in his police van!) and later got to take the fire station’s fire trucks (worth upwards of $1 million each) for a joyride around the island.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

 

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A student tries on a fire fighter suit. Photo courtesy of Pranav Tandon.

Unfortunately, a proper review could not be compiled for select trips. If you attended an event without a review and would like to submit one, please email [email protected]

This article’s feature image is courtesy of Teodora Blidaru.