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


Do you have a story tip? Email:

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


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)

Just Posted

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

Lawsuit filed last summer accused Barney Williams of verbal abuse

Darrel McLeod won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2018 for his first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. His newly-released memoir, Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, follows as a sequel. (Black Press Media file)
Critically acclaimed Sooke author releases new memoir

Peyakow follows as a sequel to Darrel McLeod’s first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

Downed trees account for the majority of power outages, according to BC Hydro, which plans to spend more money on tree pruning and hazardous tree removal in coming years in the face of changing weather and growing patterns caused by climate change. (Photo courtesy of the City of Langford)
BC Hydro says safety guides tree removal policy

Crown corporation says it will work with property owners wherever possible

(Photo by Mojpe/Pixabay)
Canadian kids extracting record amount from Tooth Fairy

Our neighbours in the U.S. receive slightly less from Tooth Fairy visits

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark. (Black Press Media files)
Former B.C. premier to testify at money laundering hearing today

Attorney General David Eby has been added to the witness list as well

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to table budget that’s expected to deal with COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Robinson released a fiscal update last December that said the impact of the pandemic on B.C.’s economy was uncertain

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver In a picture from April 2018. Photo credit, Melody Charlie.
Five western Vancouver Island First Nations celebrate legal fishing victory

Court ruling confirms Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights in case dating back to 2003

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Most Read