The Outdoor School Program
The Outdoor School Program at Cheakamus Centre (formerly North Vancouver Outdoor School) has been involved in world-class residential field based environmental studies since 1969. The program provides all learners the unique opportunity to work in the outdoor classroom of Paradise Valley near Squamish BC. Environmental and First Nations cultural education are the foundation of the program,
Cheakamus Centre Facilities
At Cheakamus Centre students wander under 1,000-year-old cedars, gaze at hundreds of wintering bald eagles, and marvel at thousands of spawning salmon. These unique experiences lay the foundation for life-long learning.
While at Cheakamus Centre the children and adults that come to study utilize:
- 165 hectares (420 acres) of old growth forests, salmon spawning streams and ponds
- Learning resources that include a salmon hatchery, farm, forest lab, Coast Salish Bighouse, and the LEEDS certified Blueshore Financial Environmental Learning Centre
- An on-site staff that provides 24-hour supervision, first aid coverage and locally sourced, gourmet food service
- Electrically heated and winterized rustic log cabins
Outdoor School Program Teaching Strategy
All environmental programs are based on a common teaching strategy:
- Create an emotional tie between students and natural thing, like a newly born chick or ancient massive cedar.
- Teach lessons in a real setting, an environment where all senses can collect information, such as our salmon hatchery or farm.
- Have students work with enthusiastic teachers – role models with special skills in fields such as fisheries technology or cultural interpretation.
- Equip students for exploration and inquiry with real-world tools, like binoculars, magnifying glasses and microscopes.
Study units at the Outdoor School include:
Students explore the life cycle of Coho and Chum salmon, learn about a fisheries biologist’s role and investigating the intricate tapestry of the spawning channel adjacent to the hatchery. Cheakamus Centre rears 100,000 fry annually. Visiting students help this process by helping fertilize eggs, feed, examine, and release the fry each spring.
The Outdoor School farm has pigs, goats, ducks, chickens, bees, and more. By interacting with and caring for these animals, students learn about their needs, agricultural issues, and their role in the human food web.
Understanding forest processes and our role in influencing them is imperative for continued use of our forests. Through hands-on exhibits and forest exploration, students are motivated to investigate forest interactions and ecology.