Outdoor Leadership and Enrichment Program
Is your child tired of learning from teachers in front of a computer screen? We are offering an amazing opportunity for students in Grades 5-8 to engage in valuable in-person learning experiences by discovering, exploring and enjoying local natural areas, while developing critical 21st century critical thinking and leadership skills through participation in conserving, restoring and sustaining parks, gardens, natural areas or other special places. This is a wonderful way for students to get outside, collaborate with others, explore their environment and make learning more meaningful!
The Outdoor Leadership and Enrichment Program will have a key focus on urban biodiversity, conservation and mentorship through collaboration, experiential learning activities and inquiry-based projects.
Key Skills Developed:
- Environmental stewardship
- Navigation and mapping
- Observation and inquiry
- Mental health and self-awareness
- Sense of “place” and belonging, including our role in the community
- Local culture and heritage
- Social justice
Typical Activities Include:
- Nature journaling (arts and writing)
- Trip to a local ravine to learn about biodiversity, habitat and geography of landforms
- Arts enrichment through photography, sound, drawing/sketching
- Technology integration with apps as tools for citizen science and navigation
- Development of a community garden with native plants
Materials to Bring:
- Close-toed shoes
- Hat/jacket/layers for cooler days
- Lightweight backpack with snack
- Water bottle
- Journal of choice (preferably 5” x 7” or larger; hard or soft cover)
Materials to Leave at Home:
- Cell phones and other electronic devices
**NOTE: This program is an all-weather Outdoor Education program and runs rain or shine. In the rare case of inclement weather, activities will be relocated to an indoor location.
Ages: Ideal for students in Grades 5-8 (Ages 10-14)
Scheduling: Thursdays, 3-6pm | Fall 6-week Session runs Thursday, September 24 through Thursday, October 29, 2020.
Fees: $600 (6 weeks)
Why Go Outside?
Playing and exploring outdoors are experiences that most adults today grew up with. Yet in the past few decades, the amount of time that children spend outdoors and the ways they experience their neighbourhoods, have changed drastically. Much of the recreational time of today’s children is spent on indoor pursuits, even among children who live in rural areas. Many research studies over the past decade links children’s mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health with time spent outdoors, experiencing nature. For example, students have been shown to have increased focus, confidence, self-esteem and overall feelings of happiness and satisfaction with school. Even something as simple as looking at a tree can have surprisingly calming effects! In addition, directly observing plants and animals help children develop an understanding of “systems”, that is, the relationships and processes in nature, while building their connections to community. Not only that but learning outside is fun! Students are excited and enthusiastic to try new activities and discover new things. This type of experiential, “hands-on” learning often reaches students who don’t thrive in a typical classroom setting.
Michelle Pomeroy, Director of Outdoor Education
Michelle graduated from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto with a Master of Arts in Child Study and Education and Specialist qualifications in Special Education and Environmental Education. For the past two decades, Michelle has worked with children in a variety of settings, including private and public schools, camps and respite centers. In 2014, Michelle moved to San Diego, California to utilize both her academic background and experience in the classroom to create robust curricula for teachers for The Social Express and Cool School, both of which are social-emotional learning apps primarily for children with social and emotional challenges. In 2017, Michelle then moved to Vancouver, where she further delved into her passion for environmental and outdoor education through teaching and conservation initiatives. She brought this passion back to Toronto with her and it has been her focus ever since! In her spare time, Michelle loves to photograph abandoned buildings, explore all the green spaces that the city has to offer and perform improv comedy routines with her best friends.