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4 million reasons to invest in outdoor education, right now

Image of Andrew Young From Executive Director Andrew Young

As summer slides into ‘sweater weather’, I’m reflecting on our successful season. I’m thankful to the instructors, staff, and hundreds of youth participants for a summer filled with adventure, personal growth, and memories.
Our 2023 course registration launches in October, and our fundraising team is busy securing support for the Youth Access Fund and other scholarships. We saw unprecedented interest this year from youth needing financial support. This number will only increase given Canada’s affordability remains a major issue for families living in Canada.

Why Is Outdoor Education So Important Right Now?

In August 2022, we co-authored an op-ed with the Conference Board of Canada (CBOC), published in the Toronto Star.  We were delighted to partner with the Conference Board on this, as it married key issues: That many young people need increased opportunities to develop critical social and emotional learning skills; AND, high quality outdoor education is a terrific way to help young people improve on these skills.

According to the CBOC, under-developed social-emotional skills amongst entry-level employees costs the Canadian economy $6.3 billion annually. Outdoor education plays an outsized role in equipping individuals with skills like leadership, compassion, communication, and active listening that they need to succeed.

Access Is Not Equal 

Our recent position paper, Help Me Out: How Outdoor Education Impacts and Empowers Youth to Thrive, demonstrates:

  • Research conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic proves that youth with connections and access to the natural world are more resilient, and report better mental health;
  • Outdoor education instills in youth a greater ability to manage life’s challenges, and fosters a lifelong connection to nature; and,
  • Access to the outdoors isn’t equal. BIPoC youth report that they don’t have the same access to outdoor opportunities.

Given the evidence, shouldn’t we ensure every youth in Canada has the opportunity to benefit from outdoor education?

Our 50+ years as a national charity providing high-quality outdoor education to youth across Canada, as well as running the Outward Bound Canada Training Academy for Outdoor Professionals, has strengthened our belief that all youth should be able to access funded outdoor education in their educational communities, including while at school.

There are more than 4 million people between the ages of 12 and 18 years old in Canada.  

That’s 4 million reasons to invest in outdoor education, right now. 

We look forward to sharing our progress with you. And if you’d like to learn more or get involved, we’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line at info@outwardbound.ca.