Outdoor Education

Students enjoying outdoor education at the Middle SchoolThe Middle School offers an outdoor education program uniquely designed for each grade.

Outdoor education excursions provide opportunities for leadership, team-building and physical challenges as well as the chance to take a break from technology.

As the students progress through the program each year, they’ll continue to take on more challenging outdoor activities which will prepare them for the more demanding Senior School Outdoor Education program.

Four-day program (two overnights) highlighting:

  • outdoor skills;
  • group dynamics; and
  • environmental awareness.

This four-day program has been designed to introduce students to a wide range of outdoor activities including climbing, orienteering, team-building/initiative tasks, paddling and hiking as well as camping. Throughout the program, we stress environmental minimum-impact techniques and group dynamics. The first day is an activity day, offering a range of options. The final 3 days will be spent at Camp Thunderbird, camping in the cabins and participating in a wide range of outdoor activities.

Camp Thunderbird experience (five days, four nights) highlighting:

  • group dynamics;
  • outdoor-living skills;
  • environmental awareness;
  • First Nations culture; and
  • hiking and overnight camping.

The Grade 7 program continues the environmental focus established in Grade 6 while introducing important outdoor living skills in a residential setting. The importance of group dynamics is stressed through team-building exercises utilizing the ropes course, rock climbing, and other activities. Guest speakers might include a conservation officer to discuss wildlife issues, an expert on traditional native lifestyles or a local artist.

Most of the program develops outdoor-living skills, such as:

  • navigation;
  • outdoor cooking;
  • fire-building;
  • erecting shelters;
  • basic survival; and
  • minimum-impact camping.

Students spend the first two nights in cabins at camp. The final two nights will be spent camping in the wooded areas of the surrounding Sooke highlands.

Grade 8 programs are designed to give students an opportunity to specialize in an area that particularly interests them. All the program options are offered at the introductory level only. These are a few examples of possible courses:

Canoe Tripping I

Participants will learn basic paddling skills and rescue techniques while exploring Finlayson Arm between Goldstream Park and Saltspring Island. Students will camp out each night on secluded beaches and will spend the days paddling their Voyageur canoes, learning the cultural history of the area and improving their general outdoor skills.

Fly Fishing Workshop

The fly fishing workshop introduces students to fly fishing. For two days, students learn about the equipment along with casting, knots and fly-tying. Students then test their skills at a local lake or beach before camping overnight to spend two days river fishing. Fish are released.

Island Sampler Adventure

The Island sampler adventure takes students on a five-day tour of the unique features and activities that Vancouver Island has to offer. Students learn to sea kayak, make fires, build shelters, survive in the woods without modern technology and to surf in Tofino.

Rock Climbing

Students learn the fundamentals of roped rock climbing, including hazard assessment, equipment, knots, belaying, movement skills and rappelling. Students camp lakeside and climb daily with guides. Zip lines, Tyrolean traverses and rappels are also covered.

Sea Kayaking I

Participants learn basic paddling skills and rescue techniques before spending four days paddling and camping. While on the ocean, students refine paddling techniques, explore the Gulf Islands, learn cultural history and practice general outdoor skills.

Sea to Sky Explorations

Sea to sky explorations teaches fundamental skills needed to explore wilderness areas. Skills covered include equipment choices and care, organization, minimum-impact camping, and wild animal avoidance. Students camp and hike throughout Vancouver Island.


Students travel to Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island and camp throughout a five-day surfing workshop. Lessons on the beach will emphasize wave and surf dynamics, equipment, clothing and safety procedures. All necessary surfing equipment is supplied.