The ESL Wilderness Ranch combines classroom studies in the mornings with ranch and wilderness based activities in the afternoons 5 days a week; join with the Ranch Staff to participate in a variety of Ranch-based chores and wilderness lifestyle experiences. Weekends and evenings are free for the students to join in with any of the other activities going on around the ranch including the Free Activities or the Add-on Fee-Based activities.
The “Activity Schedule” is usually planned at the beginning of the week with any changes to the program discussed either the day before or in the mornings. Changes to the program may be due to weather conditions, changes in schedules, etc.
Activities are supervised by qualified staff and where necessary, safety instructions, equipment and clothing are to be worn. Some of these activities may last all afternoon and some just a couple of hours.
Horseback riding is sometimes one of the main reasons that students choose to come to our school. We have over 30 horses to choose from and students of all levels and experience can enjoy “Western” riding. Our horses are very calm and safe. For all ESL students, a free Horse Riding orientation is included; additional riding is available for a fee.
Experience: No experience is necessary, we take the approach that all our students have no or little experience in Western Mountain Riding, so we begin with showing our students everything from how to approach a horse up to saddling and riding on mountain trails.
Requirements: Instruction and a short written test is necessary before riding.
Equipment: We do not insist on “riding hats” but these can be worn if a student wishes. We usually ride in casual jeans, cowboy hat, etc. Hiking boots are best for Horse Riding.
Once a student is comfortable in the saddle, we offer the chance to ride “Bareback”. Riding bareback is not that difficult but getting on the horse can be a different matter. We do not use tables to help getting on the horses, we show you how to stand next to the horse, then swing yourself up onto it. This is lots of fun for everyone! Extra fees apply.
Bear Aware Orientation
This is important for all students, especially during the summer months. It is the first activity we do with our students. We are in the wilderness of British Columbia, it is bear territory and all our students need to be aware of how to react if and when they see a bear. Interaction with other animals is also covered in the orientation. This program is included at no extra charge for all ESL students.
Because we often ride up in the alpine or on the tops of the mountains, we need to be able to replace a lost or loose shoe on a horse. Students are shown how to trim a horses hoof (foot) then replace a shoe. Extra fees apply.
Equipment: We provide all equipment required.
Our trips up to our alpine camps are done “Pioneer” style and we pack all our fresh food and other supplies on a packhorse. Students are also shown how to pack a horse correctly so that everything arrives safely. We show our students how to tie the famous Diamond Hitch that has been used by pioneers for hundreds of years. Extra fees apply.
From time to time we go up into the forest behind the ranch to collect firewood for the winter. We cut down dead trees and then have the problem of bringing the wood back to the ranch. We go back to the old traditional way of horse logging. We have some especially strong horses that can pull the whole tree down to the ranch for us. To control these horses we use a method called “Long Reigning” it means that we can walk behind the horse and direct which way we want him to go.
Just being with our horses
Our horses are not kept in stables but stay outside all year. They have become a herd and because of this, they are much more relaxed and easy to be with than horses that are stabled all the time. We encourage our students to take part in chasing the horses into the corral in the morning and even rolling out a bale of hay for them in the evening. This program is included at no extra charge for all ESL students.
Another activity that no other school can offer! We use the rifles and targets that are used during the winter Olympics Biathlon. This activity is under the supervision of a trained and licensed instructor. Extra fees apply.
Archery is another target sport that we offer as an activity for our students. Once again, this activity is under the supervision of a qualified instructor and under strict range rules for the safety of our students. Extra fees apply.
Using a chainsaw is something most of our students have never even thought of trying. With us, they will watch an instructional film followed by a safety and instruction orientation. We then instruct our students on cutting logs using full safety and protection clothing and under the watchful eye of our instructor. Extra fees apply.
These vehicles may seem formidable but after instruction from our staff, even someone who has never even driven a car can try driving one of these around. We even get our students to unload the hay for our horses off of the big hay truck when it comes. Extra fees apply.
Our location in the wilderness of the South Chilcotin mountains makes this the perfect place for hiking and wildlife viewing. Organized hike trips are arranged as part of our student activities. We always insist that our students go with a guide, that they have had their “Bear Aware Orientation” and know how to react around animals when they see them. Extra fees apply.
Hiking around the Ranch trails with a friend or work buddy from the Ranch provides a new wilderness experience around every corner: there are rich opportunities for wildlife viewing, fishing, bird-watching, flora and wilderness photography. This program is included at no extra charge for all ESL students.
If you decide that you want a more immersive Guided Hike, with an expert Hiking Guide, then extra fees apply.