Wilderness School is a two-year, gender-inclusive program for youth. Monthly weekend, day, and after-school programs, seasonal weekend trips, and multi-day spring and summer excursions lead participants through some of the most beautiful wilderness areas on Vancouver Island. Wilderness School offers youth a unique opportunity to build positive and supportive relationships, learn about self regulation and self care, practice healthy interpersonal skills and push comfort zones through dynamic nature-based programing. Youth learn skills such as backcountry camping, kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing, surfing and participating in environmental stewardship and education through their journey in the program.

Who is Wilderness School for?

Wilderness School is for youth who will be starting grade 8 in September 2023 within the school district boundaries of SD 61, 62 or 63.

Each year we accept up to 10 youth into the program based on their Need, Fit and Desire.

NEED:   This program is designed for youth who are not already involved in many extracurricular activities; for those youth who are struggling to find a place socially with their peers or at school; for those who are lacking the opportunities to experience outdoor activities.

FIT: A positive attitude, a willingness to challenge yourself, an openness to making new friends, a sense of curiosity and adventure are a good start to being successful in the Wilderness School.

DESIRE:  The Wilderness School requires a 2-year commitment.  Monthly programs, seasonal trips throughout the year and multi-day expeditions in the spring and summer require a high level of commitment.  Our curriculum is progressive so missing one trip can mean missing skill development for the following trip.  As the group grows closer, each member plays an important role, missing trips affects the whole group.

Where is the program offered?

The program is available in Victoria.

What are participants saying?

“I learned a lot of things about how to live life, especially that making mistakes did not mean I was a failure.”

“The program showed me how to be a leader and not follow other people.”

“It’s so much fun!”

How much does it cost?

With the support of our donors, all of our program fees are subsidized, minimizing cost to our participants. Wilderness School fees are offered on a sliding scale from $200 – $1200 per year. Program fees includes all transportation, equipment, gear and food for all single and multi-day adventures. Bursaries are available to cover a partial or full program fee amount if cost is a barrier to families.

How to Join

  1. January to April teachers, counsellors and/or community support personnel consider candidates for the program.
  2. Teachers or counsellors submit referrals on behalf of applicants through the month of April.
  3. Interviews are scheduled with short-listed applicants for end of April through early May.
  4. Selected candidates are notified in early June and invited to an orientation program in July/August 2024.

The current intake for Wilderness School is closed and will resume in 2025.

“Wilderness School has encouraged me to be more fearless and take more risks. It’s opened me to being more positive and accepting of people around me.”