Wilderness Youth Leadership Development (WYLD)
Our Mission is to teach the wonder, spirit, and worth of people and the natural world through outdoor pursuits.
Run in association with Strathcona Park Lodge, Canada’s award winning outdoor education centre, Wilderness Youth Leadership Development (WYLD) Expeditions are summer camps for adventurous tweens and teens, 12 to 17 years old. Based out of the Lodge’s lakeside location, the 8 to 12 day camps explore the hiking trails, lakes, inlets, beaches, islands and mountains of Vancouver Island by foot, sea kayak and canoe. Along the way kids learn life skills, like leadership, problem solving and teamwork, and harder skills, like navigation, canoe strokes and rock climbing.
About Strathcona Park Lodge
Strathcona Park Lodge, WYLD’s home base, is a year round outdoor education centre. Since 1959 more than 100,000 school kids have visited the lodge and participated in various outdoor adventure programs. During the summer it is a wilderness resort specializing in custom outdoor adventure holidays. WYLD summer camps, like all aspects of Strathcona, are governed by a core set of principles we call the Strathcona Circle.
A WYLD EXPEDITION demands a lot from its participants. It asks them to lead a group and to follow, to be resourceful and creative and to explore and discover. It requires them to learn and master new skills, to build their level of fitness and confidence, and to work together with their team. In return, it will give them the opportunity to see and do things that they could only dream of. It will offer them the chance to push their limits, and take home more skills than they left with.
All of our programs focus on the fundamentals of backcountry travel; the basic skills that help people survive and enjoy the wilderness. These include minimum impact camping, route finding, expedition behavior, cooking, campsite selection, tent set up and stove use. Skills like communication, teamwork, problem solving, leadership, and trust are all an integral part of a WYLD day. Personal growth and increased self-awareness are just a few of the side benefits of a WYLD program.
WYLD Summer Camps
There are four WYLD summer camps each with different itineraries and destinations, but all four teach life long skills.
Self-respect: by setting and achieving goals, students are able to build a healthy confidence that will foster a greater respect for themselves and the people around them.
Self-reliance: instilling the added responsibility involved in wilderness travel helps people to work for themselves. This can help create a sense of independence and personal accomplishment.
Compassion: in working with others and sharing in their hardships and triumphs, one learns compassion as well as a sense of tolerance.
Appreciation and Awareness for the world around us: our classroom takes people away from the convenience of their everyday lives and requires them to live in balance with their surroundings.
Choose from these WYLD Expeditions:
New for 2013!! Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award Adventurous Journey
AGE GROUP: 16-18
Length: 6 DAYS
Date: July 2-7, 2013
Skills: Trip Planning and Preparation, Backcountry Basics, Paddle Strokes, Canoe Tripping, Map and Compass, Navigation
Stay tuned for more information and a detailed itinerary of this comprehensive Gold Award Expedition early in the New Year. Experience a journey like no other and leave knowing that all aspects, including the paperwork, have been fully completed.
Discovery Camp – High Ropes, Canoeing, Rock Climbing and Hiking
AGE GROUP: 12-13
Length: 8 DAYS
Date: July 13-20, 2013
Skills: Backcountry Basics, Paddle Strokes, Rock Climbing, Map and Compass
Our introductory camp combines an overnight canoe trip and a mountain hike with rock climbing and high ropes course at Strathcona Park Lodge.
Strathcona Park Lodge sits on the edge of the vast lake system in the shadow of Vancouver Island’s highest mountains. The Discovery Expedition brings in the best of both worlds – campers will paddle down fjord-like Buttle Lake with snowcapped mountains all around and hike deep into Strathcona Provincial Park to visit one of its hidden jewels, Landslide Lake.
Day 1: After arriving at Strathcona you’ll meet your fellow Expedition members and your instructors. The instructors will show you around the Lodge and play a few games to get to know your group. You’ll also begin planning your Expedition. Dinner is in the Whale Room and the night is spent at the Lodge.
Day 2: To the High Ropes Course you’ll go. Suspended 40-feet in the air this exciting challenge is a fun introduction to your Expedition. After lunch at the Whale Room you’ll pack canoes and set off for a three day canoe trip. The trip starts on Upper Campbell Lake with its intricate shoreline full of bays and sandy beaches before passing through the narrows into Buttle Lake, and Strathcona Park.
Day 3-4: Exploring coves, bays and river mouths you’ll paddle down Buttle Lake under the towering massifs of snow capped mountains. The scenery is spectacular looking down this long and narrow lake. In camp you’ll work as a team to set up shelter and make meals. You’ll learn about no trace camping, canoe strokes and more. If the wind blows you’ll hoist a sail and relax before returning to Strathcona Park Lodge before lunch on day 4. After lunch you’ll be able to test your climbing skills on one of the rock climbing bluffs and then move onto the bouldering wall where you’ll learn about technique. You’ll then head to a rock cliff near the lodge and you’ll learn rock climbing etiquette, proper harnessing, climbing, belaying and the rappelling technique. After your climb, enjoy a meal in the Whale Room and a night at the Lodge.
Day 5-7: An after-breakfast shuttle will land the group at the Elk River Trail in Strathcona Park – this will be the start of a three day hike. This excellent hike climbs through old growth forest to Landslide Lake, one of the most scenic lakes on Vancouver Island, surrounded by the towering walls of Mount Colonel Foster. This is your group’s opportunity to use everything you have learned to fully manage the navigation, campsite selection and set-up, and meal planning and preparation. Upon completion of your hike, head back for a celebratory feast in the Whale Room and your final night together at the Lodge.
Day 8: After packing up, enjoy a final morning of fun and games before travelling home.
Backcountry Beginnings – Rock Climbing and Multi Day Camping
AGE GROUP: 14-16
Length: 8 DAYS
Dates: July 20-27, 2013
Skills: Backcountry Basics, Paddle Strokes, Rock Climbing, Map and Compass
Difficulty Level: Introductory/Moderate
By the end of this moderately challenging backcountry introduction participants will be leading the group as they travel by sea kayak and by foot in the Strathcona Park wilderness.
This introduction to backcountry travel is a sampling of the best of Strathcona’s chunk of paradise: rock climbing and high ropes at Strathcona Park Lodge; day hikes into the Vancouver Island mountains; and a multi-day sea kayak trip on glacier carved lakes. You’ll challenge yourself high off the ground, hike a pristine valley and follow bear and elk tracks across an estuary, all while learning how to be self sufficient in the backcountry.
Day 1: After arriving at Strathcona you’ll meet your fellow Expedition members and your instructors. The instructors will show you around the Lodge and play a few games to get to know your group. You’ll also begin planning your Expedition. Dinner is in the Whale Room and you’ll sleep at the Lodge’s base camp.
Day 2: The high ropes course will be your first challenge. Suspended 40-feet off the ground the ropes, logs and wires are a physical and mental challenge that requires team work and trust to navigate. It’s also a lot of fun. In the afternoon you’ll head down to the water to become familiar with sea kayaking skills, strokes and rescues in preparation for your kayak expedition. Eat and base camp at the lodge.
Day 3: Start the day with another challenge, this time on the rock climbing bluff to learn the basics of climbing, knot tying, rope systems, safety equipment, rappelling and grabbing the rock to climb up. Getting off the ground and reaching the top will require teamwork, trust and perseverance. The feeling of accomplishment at the top is matched by the adrenaline of rappelling back down. After lunch you’ll pack your sea kayak and head out on an adventure.
Day 4-7: Over the next four days you’ll explore Upper Campbell and Buttle lakes. You might take side trips into the river mouths, or look for the perfect swimming spot, or you may just lay back and float enjoying mountain rimmed lakes. A highlight of this expedition is a day hike through the pristine Tlools Valley where you will attempt to reach spectacular Mia falls. Tlools is a wild and rugged old growth valley, home to abundant wildlife. By the last few days you and your group will become self sufficient, you’ll be taking over the decision making from your instructors, you’ll navigate, pick campsites, set up camp, prepare meals and light fires. A celebratory dinner and last night with your group rounds out your WYLD experience.
Day 8: On your final day, paddle back to Strathcona Park Lodge, enjoy a shower, clean up, pack up and head home knowing you have accomplished more than you likely thought possible; proud of your new skills, increased confidence and shared memories.
Nootka Adventure – Sea Kayaking
AGE GROUP: 14-16
Length: 8 DAYS
Dates: July 20-27, 2013
Skills: Backcountry Basics, Kayak Strokes & Rescues, Ocean Travel, Marine Navigation and Weather, Surf Landings and Launchings, Trip Safety
A moderately challenging sea kayak trip in Nootka Sound, a little known remote and wildlife rich destination on Vancouver Island’s west coast.
- Surfing waves with an instructor in a double sea kayak.
We’re not sure why more people don’t sea kayak in Nootka Sound, but we’re not complaining. The rugged coast near Gold River on the west side of Vancouver Island is a sea kayaker’s dream. There are dozens of islands, empty beaches, tidal pools galore, coves, inlets and passages to explore and resident whales, sea lions and sea otters to spot. On this 8-day adventure we’ll learn about thousands of years of First Nation history, hundreds of years of European occupation, the tides, weather and ocean navigation all while visiting some of the best campsites on the coast.
Day 1: After arriving at Strathcona you’ll meet your fellow Expedition members and your instructors. As a group you’ll begin planning your trip, including an introduction to sea kayaking skills, strokes and rescues. Dinner is in the Whale Room and the group will sleep at the lodge’s base camp.
Day 2: The adventure beings after breakfast with a van ride to the Nootka Sound. In a quiet marina you’ll pack your kayak and set off across the sheltered waters following the coast of Bligh Island. As you paddle past coves and small beaches you’ll begin to get comfortable in your sea kayak. By late afternoon the group will begin looking for a good place to camp for the night.
Day 3-6: Over the next several days time is spent learning the backcountry basics as well as exploring the islands, beaches and shores of Nootka Sound. You may spend time fishing for dinner, or scrambling around tidal pools teeming with new and exciting sights, or you may just lay back and float, enjoying the peaceful solitude of the Sound. You may visit Friendly Cove where Captain Cook landed in 1778. Here you are introduced to the First Nations people and culture of this region. Being in the wilderness means attending to the essentials. As days pass you will find you have honed many of your camping skills and your group begins to take over more responsibility from your instructors, taking over the navigation, campsite selection and set-up, and meal planning and preparation. It is your opportunity to use everything you have learned to finish your journey and succeed as a team.
Day 7: The last strokes return you and your group to the marina where a van will be waiting to take you back to the Lodge, a warm shower, a celebratory meal and a final night with your group.
Day 8: On your final day campers clean up, pack up and head home knowing you have accomplished more than you likely thought possible; proud of your new skills, increased confidence and shared memories.
Backcountry Classic – Hiking
AGE GROUP: 15-17
Length: 12 DAYS
Dates: Aug 11-22, 2013
Skills: Backcountry Basics, Paddle Strokes, Map and Compass, Alpine Hiking and Route Finding, Ice Axe Use and Snow Travel (depending on snow conditions)
Our most challenging camp and a true expedition. Starting at the lodge, participants will paddle by canoe to a trailhead and hike for several days into the alpine culminating in a steep mile long climb to reach the summit of Mount McBride before returning home.
Our most advanced camp is a 12-day multi-sport expedition. Beginning at Strathcona Park Lodge the group sets out by canoe down Buttle Lake heading for the Marble Meadows Trail, a water access-only backpack route into the Vancouver Island mountains. The trail leads to a huge alpine meadow where several mountains and ridges can be climbed, including snow covered Mount McBride, one of the highest peaks on Vancouver Island. After six days of hiking, its back in the boats for a two day canoe back to the Lodge.
Day 1: After the group arrives at Strathcona Park Lodge they will begin packing and planning the expedition. Dinner is in the Whale Room and the group will sleep at the lodge’s base camp.
Day 2: With a hearty breakfast out of the way you’ll load the canoes and begin paddling down Upper Campbell Lake. The mountains will get higher and snowier as you head south into Buttle Lake, exploring coves and beaches. After making camp you’ll begin learning the backcountry basics: how to set up shelter, prepare dinner and light a fire.
Day 3: The group will continue down Buttle Lake, passing several river estuaries before arriving at Phillips Creek and the trail to Marble Meadows. Here they will set up one more lake camp and lighten their load before heading into the mountains for six days.
Day 4: The switchbacking trail climbs steadily, passing through old growth forests and onto the edge of Marble Meadows; a wilderness camp will be set in the rolling plateau of wildflowers and patches of forest.
Day 5-9: Spend the next 5 days exploring the alpine area of Marble Meadows including Wheaton hut, Limestone cap, Morrison Spire and, the highlight, the summit of Mount McBride. Each destination demands fitness, group management and teamwork, as well as new skills like ice axe use, snow climbing, off trail navigation and map reading. At camp each night the group will take on more responsibility with meals, group decisions and planning.
Day 10-11: Down at lake level again – it’s time for the paddle back. As a well-oiled group, the canoes will fly across the lake. Enjoy refreshing swims and lakeside campsites as your canoes hug the shore on the journey home. A celebratory dinner and last night with your group rounds out your WYLD experience.
Day 12: On your final day, paddle back to Strathcona Park Lodge, enjoy a shower, clean up, pack up and head home knowing you have accomplished more than you likely thought possible; proud of your new skills, increased confidence and shared memories.
Because of the environments we operate in we demand more from our instructors (they are not summer camp staff). They work with youths in an outdoor education environment year round and have the certifications and skills to do the job safely.
We’re the only company taking youths into many of these areas, including sea kayaking trips to Nootka Sound. On many of our trips we don’t see other people.
We’ve been leading trips in our backyard longer than anyone, since 1959 in fact. And we’ve been taking kids into the wilderness longer than almost anyone else in Canada. Experience breeds more knowledge, safer expeditions and a better trip for participants.
Why do WYLD as well as a school program?
Dozens of schools visit Strathcona Park Lodge every spring and fall so their students can learn in an outdoor classroom. These programs are just touching the surface of what can be learned and experienced in an outdoor education experience.
WYLD Expeditions take off where school programs left off. There’s little repetition as the goals and itinerary of school programs and summer camps are different. Participants spend more time away from Strathcona Park Lodge learning camp crafts and self reliance. They’ll build on skills touched on during a school visit and they’ll meet new people with similar interests.
If a student liked their school experience, they’ll love a WYLD Expedition.
Visit our Forms and Downloads page to find all the relevant forms and information that must be completed and read prior to applying for a WYLD Expedition, including consent forms, medical forms, gear lists and more. They are organized by the Expedition you’re applying for. If you have any questions or problems please contact us by phone, 250-286-3122, or contact us.
Strathcona’s Mission is: To teach the wonder, spirit and worth of people and the natural world through outdoor pursuits.
In addition we strive to be good stewards to the environment. We generate our own clean power, shop locally, work to protect wild places and always look for ways to reduce our environmental impact.
Exciting goals to have, but not easy ones to achieve, we do so with a core set of values called The Strathcona Circle: More with Less; Stewardship; Challenge by Choice; Living on the Edge; Generosity of Spirit; Happy Warrior.
These six principles govern everything that happens at Strathcona Park Lodge, the food we serve, the people we employ, our environmental ethos and our teaching style. We live them every day and teach them as part of all our programs, often by example. Here’s how:
More with Less – Minimizing one’s impact on the planet through one’s choices.
Strathcona is a self contained community of more than 20 buildings, 50 or more staff and hundreds of guests. The entire operation is powered by a micro-hydro system, which means we’re highly sensitive to energy conservation. We also treat our own water and heat some of it with passive solar technology.
Stewardship – Caring for one’s local environment and teaching others to care too.
When a logging company planned to cut old growth trees in a pristine valley Strathcona helped organize a land swap, even though it meant more logging in our viewscape. The Lodge and its employees have been instrumental in keeping Strathcona Provincial Park protected and wild.
Challenge by Choice – Providing the opportunity for individuals to choose to take appropriate risks in a safe environment where success is guaranteed.
While the zip lines at Strathcona appear dangerous, the cables, pulleys and carabiners are strong enough to hold a car. That doesn’t make that first step off the platform any easier for a lot of people. Whether someone leaps, balks or just puts on a harness, trying is considered a success.
Living on the Edge – Being open to new experiences, new ideas and people’s differences.
Hand in hand with Challenge by Choice, Living on the Edge means trying a bite of that new food at dinner. It’s being brave and climbing into a kayak even though you’ve never been in a boat. And most importantly it’s leaving stereotypes and preconceptions behind.
Generosity of Spirit – Thinking of others with kindness and charity, giving others the benefit of the doubt, treating people with respect.
Instructors genuinely want to share their skills and knowledge. They want everyone to succeed and do their best to make it happen. They are never happier than after a challenging day when everyone in their group exceeded their goals. That is why they work here.
Happy Warrior – Going at tasks (including the mundane or daunting) with gusto, being a positive contributor to a team and always pitching in.
The rain is pouring down and camp is still a long way off, yet the entire group is singing at the top of their lungs. That’s a happy warrior. We’re never surprised when we hear about groups of all ages and backgrounds overcoming hardship with a smile, a laugh and a song.
WYLD Expeditions at Strathcona are delivered by professional and highly skilled instructors.
They love the outdoors and they love to teach and share their passion for adventure. Our instructors are excellent role models and are chosen, not only for their high level of technical skill, but because they are smart, energetic, caring leaders who have the ability to work with and look after youths. All instructors undergo a criminal record check and hold current certification in Wilderness First Aid & CPR. Other qualifications include: BCRCA Canoe Instructor, WKABC Whitewater Instructor, ACKSG and SKGA Sea Kayak Guides, Swiftwater Rescue Technician & NLS. Instructors receive ongoing training and evaluation and are encouraged to further develop themselves professionally.
Most of our instructors work as outdoor guides and leaders year round. Many are graduates of our own leader training semester the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training or similar programs. In addition, they have strong “soft skills” in leadership, group dynamics, motivation, skills progression and more.
They’ll keep campers safe, engaged and learning throughout their trip.
WYLD Expeditions qualify for Adventurous Journey in all levels of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a United Kingdom charity program that encourages personal development for youths aged 14 to 25. All three levels of achievement (bronze, silver and gold) are voluntary and self-driven. The ‘expedition’ component of the award can be earned by taking part in a WYLD expedition.
To find out more about the award and why someone would want to do it go to their website, www.dukeofed.org.
Students participating in the DOE must inform their instructor at the start of the Expedition. It is the camper’s responsibility to complete the section on the qualifying journey and then give the record book to their instructor the evening prior to departure. Record books will not be signed if submitted late. Instructors will only complete the assessors section if the student has sufficiently achieved the requirements and accurately filled in the record book.
All WYLD Expedition summer camps at Strathcona Park Lodge contain an element of risk that is inherent to outdoor activities.
Our instructors and staff understand the risks involved in certain activities and managing those risks and the safety of our participants is our first priority.
We tend not to think of driving as dangerous task because it is part of every day life but in reality someone is far more likely to get hurt in a car than they would rock climbing, sea kayaking, climbing a mountain or anything else a WYLD participant will do.
This is the difference between perceived risk (appears dangerous, but isn’t) and real risk (really is dangerous). At Strathcona we do as much as we can to reduce real risk as part of our safety and risk management planning. Instructors are highly trained, they use high quality equipment and procedures are in place to ensure activities are geared to the participant’s age, maturity and ability.
Perceived risk on the other hand is part of what makes outdoor education so exciting and valuable. Campers often approach an activity, such as rock climbing, with a notion that it is dangerous and hard. By explaining how the equipment works, the training the instructors have and breaking climbing into simple steps, kids are able to overcome their fears and succeed. The sense of accomplishment in the face of a huge obstacle, like a cliff face, is great and carries over to many aspects of their lives.
Outdoor activities will always carry a certain level of risk but it is an important factor in the learning success of an outdoor environment. We believe that the benefit of taking part in one of our programs far outweighs the risks – So do many others.
More than 100,000 school aged children have been to Strathcona with their class. Our greatest compliment is that many schools return year after year. They come back because we take safety seriously just like we do on each WYLD Expedition.
Instructors enjoy an open and honest relationship with supervisors and managers. Issues and concerns are dealt with immediately. We have detailed risk management protocols and procedures that are reviewed and re-evaluated regularly. Every three years the British Columbia Camping Association audits our safety practices. Our Executive Director and managers take part in risk management workshops and conferences to ensure Strathcona Park Lodge remains a leader in outdoor education safety.
Strathcona Park Lodge and its employees can’t manage all the risks on their own. A large responsibility rests with the participants to share in the safety of themselves and others during all activities. That’s why as part of our safety and risk plan we ask every participant to sign a youth consent form. This is not a waiver, nor does it pretend to absolve us of any or all responsibility for the safety of your child. It is an educational tool to inform parents and campers of the types of activities, and risks and responsibilities involved with in WYLD Expeditions. By signing it, participants agree to share in the managing of risk with their instructor, Strathcona Park Lodge and their group.
If you have any questions or concerns about safety and risk management at Strathcona Park Lodge please call 250-286-3122 and ask for one of our Program Directors.
We take safety seriously:
- All instructors hold a minimum 40 hour wilderness first aid & CPR certificate, many also hold the 80hr certificate. Each instructor carries a group first aid kit during all activities and a communication device for wilderness environments.
- We have an onsite first aid room equipped with oxygen. Oxygen and first aid supplies are also located in the waterfront centre.
- Our Executive Director and other senior staff members possess Advanced Medicine (120 hour first aid) training.
- The Campbell River hospital (with full emergency department), walk-in clinics and dentists are 40km away.
- Ambulance service provided by Campbell River or Gold River.
- All buildings are equipped with smoke detectors and we provide our own fire fighting equipment. Our staff is trained in the use of fire fighting equipment.
- Instructors are responsible for the safety and supervision of WYLD students from the time of pick up to drop off.
- Each instructor and office phone is equipped with an emergency contact phone list.
- Student medical records are kept in the first aid room. In the event that a student is sent to the hospital or clinic we send a copy with them and retain the original.
- Our instructor field guide contains detailed information about search and rescue procedures. This includes conducting land and water searches for missing persons, clearing and marking helicopter landing zones and emergency contact protocol.
- We have a staff/camper communication policy to protect children. Any post-trip communication must be conducted through our office or public Facebook page so as to protect children from inappropriate correspondence and our staff from allegations of misconduct.
- We have motorboats and vehicles onsite in the event they are needed. All powerboat operators possess the new Pleasure Craft Operator Card.
- Policies, procedures and training are in place for all activities we conduct (rock climbing, high ropes course, zip line, etc.)
- We are audited every three years for compliance with BC Camping Association guidelines.
- Our dining and kitchen facilities are in compliance with provincial health and safety regulations.
If you have picked one of our courses and you are ready to apply, visit the downloads page and print the application form along with a letter from WYLD Expeditions. Registration is accepted on a first come first served basis. Completed registration forms can be emailed, mailed or faxed. To create a fun and enjoyable experience we require a minimum of 6 and maximum of 10 students for each course.
If you have more questions, want help deciding which course is right for you, or would like to check availability, please call us at 250-286-3122 and speak to one of our friendly staff.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Once you have enrolled in a WYLD course and registration has been confirmed, please go here to download important information and documents.
The questionnaire is to be filled out by the WYLD participant on his or her own. One of the most important things we teach on a WYLD course is self reliance, and this is the first way to take responsibility for participation in WYLD. The purpose of these forms is to make sure that the course selected will be a positive and rewarding experience. All forms, student questionnaire, medical, consent and travel details, must be submitted no later than two weeks prior to the WYLD Expedition start date in order to participate in the course.
A 25% non-refundable deposit is due with your application. Full payment is due one month prior to the start date of the WYLD course and becomes non-refundable at that time. Students leaving a course after its start date will not be granted a refund even as a result of injury or illness.
The success of a WYLD course is built on the foundation of its participants. They must be willing to participate, trust, and communicate with each other in order to create a positive experience. WYLD is not a camp for youth with motivational or behavioral issues. We reserve the right to dismiss any student who is seen as being a detriment to the group and is a safety risk or medical concern. The use or possession of tobacco, non-prescription drugs or alcohol is strictly prohibited. As well, we will not keep students on course who are determined to leave. Any of these situations will result in the student being removed from the course and transported back home at their own expense. No refund will be given for early dismissals.