What is the Fall Exercise?
One of the most unique and important activities that we have at Robert Land Academy (RLA) is the Fall Exercise. The event which takes places the week before Thanksgiving sees all of the students at RLA complete a 3 day, 70 km hike in and around the Bruce Trail (on the first two days) and from Fort George to Queenston Heights on the last day. The Exercise takes place no matter the weather – the 30C humid day or the 18C day with wind and rain. The weather makes one feel uncomfortable and really does not affect the student and their task of completing the march.
The last day of the exercise is special, as we take time to remember those who defended Fort George and who fought in the Battle of Queenston Heights. We do this by having a military parade at Queenston Heights and pulling a canon along the Niagara Parkway, which is then used in the parade.
The Fall Exercise is truly a teachable moment where a student learns a lot about himself (physically and mentally), how to rely on others and the value and importance of training for a goal which is then accomplished. The Fall Exercise is uncomfortable, difficult, draining and yet invigorating – in particular when you reach a goal, the end of a day and the end of the exercise. It is an accomplishment and no matter what else you do or don’t do in your life you can always look back and say “yes I accomplished that”.
To most of our students completing a 70 km exercise over 3 days is unimaginable, so when they are able to complete this activity and are acknowledged for doing so, it is amazing to see them take pride in this accomplishment. This experience provides them with a great deal of confidence that can be transferred into the classroom and onto the playing fields or gymnasiums.