If COVID has taught us anything it has been that we are not alone, and together we can reflect, revamp and redesign. Through the Outdoor Council of Canada’s Canadian Outdoor Summit, we have had two phenomenal opportunities arise. One is the creation of a subgroup called the Outdoor Inclusion and Accessibility working group. This group is represented by our allies across Canada; Alberta’s Rocky Mountain Adaptive, Quebec’s AQLPH a non-profit organization that participates in the promotion and development of leisure for people with different abilities, and Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador’s School of Human Kinetics and Recreation. Together we have developed a guide for running inclusive events and we are working closely to research and share a library of tools and information on running adaptive outdoor programs; specifically relating to philosophy, training and equipment resources. These tools will be shared with outdoor professionals across the country at the upcoming Canadian Outdoor Summit. These members work hard at providing inclusive outdoor programs, training tools, and research, and educating students and staff. Together we are aligning what inclusion in the outdoors could look like if we had more common practices, approaches, and an ability centered perspective.
In addition, we have been able to meet like-minded, yet diverse professionals also connected to the Canadian Outdoor Summit in other working groups, and we have formed a BC group that looks at regional trends and emerging needs. We assist one another to clarify our program design and participant engagement strategies so we can learn from another, reduce duplication, and align our practice as a region to support how we all move forward to plan and program during COVID. We have co-written procedures, shared resources, and enhance each other’s standards through collaboration. Representatives from YMCA’s Camp Thunderbird , Outward Bound BC, Fireside Adventures, Powell River School District, Vancouver School Board’s TREK Outdoor Program, SKILS, University of Victoria’s School of Child and Youth Care, BC Camps Association and Strathcona Park Lodge are a few of the partners involved.
As we all strive to “build back better” we realize how valuable and important it is to wade in the unknown waters with others in a similar field. We all have the vision to provide great outdoor opportunities for people, families, and groups to connect to nature, learn new skills, and be apart of a wider community. Through collaborations like these we can steward more for our participants because as they venture to new regions and programs within BC, we are building trust and accountability collectively.