Adolescence is hard. As if the pressure to fit in, the stress of school, and the physical changes weren’t overwhelming enough, the anxiety of the pandemic and the affordability crisis have made it even harder for teens in Canada.

Fortunately, a powerful resource for combating the youth mental health crisis is right outside: the great outdoors.


Nearly two-thirds of youth aged 15 to 24 in Canada reported that the pandemic harmed their mental health. On the other hand, teens with a stronger connection to nature coped better with the challenges of the pandemic. Our latest report, Help Me Out, shows the critical role outdoor education plays in building the skills youth need to succeed in this rapidly changing world.

Nature-based outdoor learning builds confidence, improves self-esteem and increases resilience. These social-emotional skills enable youth to recover more quickly from setbacks and maintain a positive attitude.

Outdoor education programs designed for youth

Outward Bound Canada expeditions are small group experiences that encourage youth to communicate, cooperate and trust each other while supported by highly trained instructors who are experts in risk management.

In the field, participants make mistakes and learn from them, have lots of fun and build a lifelong connection to nature. By tackling difficult situations without predetermined solutions, they learn that they’re capable of much more than they ever imagined – a confidence boost that helps them at home and school and sets them up for success in their future careers.

Outward Bound’s outdoor education programs also build critical social skills for teens. By working as a team with other peers to tackle daily tasks like cooking and setting up camp to large-scale problem-solving, participants learn strategies to communicate with others

Yet, we know access to nature is not equal in Canada.

Lower-income households lack access to outdoor spaces. And people with the least access to nature also have lower levels of physical health and mental well-being. That’s why we offer financial assistance and scholarships so that all youth, regardless of their financial situation, can participate in our programs. Learn more and apply.

If you’d like to help create a socially inclusive future for Canada by making outdoor education more accessible, please consider donating to Outward Bound Canada.