The YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island has announced its Y Outdoors School, which will be held at Camp Thunderbird in Sooke, starting in early January 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)

The YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island has announced its Y Outdoors School, which will be held at Camp Thunderbird in Sooke, starting in early January 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)

YMCA offers outdoor school for elementary students

Program to max out at 10 students per staff member, five-days a week

The YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island is rolling out a small outdoor program for kids who want to spend time in nature while continuing their education.

Y Outdoor School is an outdoor program that will host up to 24 children for five days out of the week at Camp Thunderbird in Sooke, beginning in January.

The 1,200-acre space gives children between six and 12-years-old the chance to learn new skills, connect with their group members and nature.

Each day is planned to begin with a morning check-in and students’ chance to participate in small nature activities, such as a hike, studying animals by the lake or counting animals in the forest. The rest of the day will include more outdoor activities, such as canoeing, team building games and storytelling.

In respect of provincial health recommendations, one staff member will be assigned to 10 children.

ALSO READ: Life away from devices offers young campers a welcome change

There will be a 90-minute period daily where students can focus on schoolwork assigned through their regular school program. A qualified teacher will provide academic support, and the outdoor education staff will help.

“Even before the pandemic, we have seen that increased screen time and less time spent outside with others has often come at the cost of reduced social skills, physical health and mental development, including the ability to focus,” said Fiona Hough, manager of mental wellness and Y Outdoor School program developer at the Vancouver Island YMCA‐YWCA.

“Immersive time in nature has been shown to improve focus, inspire curiosity and creativity and supports health outcomes in children and adults.”

Registration for the outdoor program is open, and school districts must be notified about participation. The outdoor school is tentatively set to run during school hours Monday through Friday starting Jan. 12.

Bus service is provided to and from the Downtown Victoria Y or Langford Westhills location. The Y has plans to extend its program through spring 2021 after spring break in March.

READ MORE: Victoria’s YMCA-YWCA reopening with new app, membership structure


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The YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island has announced their Y Outdoors School, which will be held at Camp Thunderbird in Sooke, starting in early January 2021. (YMCA-YWCA Vancouver Island)

The YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island has announced their Y Outdoors School, which will be held at Camp Thunderbird in Sooke, starting in early January 2021. (YMCA-YWCA Vancouver Island)

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