Whew, what a good and busy year 2022 was for Outward Bound Canada! It was great to finally get back to full speed after the last two years. We’re grateful and thrilled for the 1,000+ youth we served, from coast to coast; 600 of which received funding for their OBC courses this year.
As 2023 approaches, we can’t wait to continue expanding outdoor education in Canada and connecting even more youth with nature in the new year. In fact, we’re so excited that we’ve compiled a list of 23 things we’re looking forward to at OBC in 2023 – check it out:
1. Launching the second year of the Outward Bound Canada Training Academy for Outdoor Professionals, with flexible options for folks who want to work in the Canadian outdoor industry. This year, we’ll train 200 participants for free in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta, thanks to support from the Government of Canada.
2. Our Ontario Wilderness Program Manager Maria Patterson is co-chairing the Make Peace with Winter Conference in January – a super fun event organized each year by the Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario- to bring outdoor educators together to share their knowledge and experiences with winter.
3. Flashing our new OBC-branded staff vests in the field. Working outdoors is great – working outdoors looking fine is even better!
5. Speaking of West Coast adventures: Thanks to a donation from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, we’ll be tackling them with brand new equipment. The Foundation is supporting youth on our programs in Vancouver with high-quality winter gear like sleeping bags, boots, and insulated jackets and pants.
6. Our renewed partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Federation for the Canadian Conservation Corps, a three-part program designed to connect young people in Canada to our natural and cultural heritage through service, adventure and reflection. OBC will design and lead Wilderness Adventure, the first part of the program – an expedition where participants learn about themselves, their peers, and their community.
7. Expanding our partnerships with other youth programs, communities, and organizations to provide reciprocal programs, such as working with conservation organizations to offer service learning projects during our courses.
8. Working with the 10 new members we welcomed to the OBC program team in the last months of 2022. We can’t wait to get to know them better and experience all the great things we can do together to expand outdoor education for more youth in Canada.
9. We’re excited to announce that we’ll be moving our headquarters from Yonge Street to the Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto this summer! Not only is it a super cool space, but it’s also eco-friendly and has plenty of space for events for our staff, students, and supporters. We can’t wait to settle in!
10. About the great opportunities that our new space at Brick Works will provide: We’re already set to welcome over a thousand students from six schools to programs at our new headquarters – it’s going to be a blast!
11. In total, we’ll serve 3,000 youth in grades 8 to 12 through the return of our urban school programs in 2023. We look forward to getting to know each and every one of them.
12. Offering free monthly online training and contact opportunities for our instructors to get to know each other throughout the year and continue to build our great community. The first session will be on January 10, led by Lisa Arsenault, our Rocky Mountain Region Program Manager, on the Right Use of Power approach in professional relationships.
13. 13. We’re kicking off our 32-day Ontario Wilderness Leadership Whitewater Canoeing Trip with a new route that splits the expedition into several areas instead of just going along the Missinabi River. If it was cool before, it’s awesome now – and more accessible!
14. Seeing our expeditions through the eyes of our participants: We’re equipping them with cell phones – no chip or internet connection, just the camera – to see their OBC trip from their perspectives. There was so much great content in 2022, we can’t wait to see what 2023 will bring!
15. Equipping participants with cell phone cameras is just one of the ways we’ll tell our stories better in the new year. Expect more blog posts, newsletters, cool videos and stories from alumni – by the way, you’re invited to share your OBC story, too!
16. Working with 85 returning instructors across Canada and hiring 40 more in 2023 to help continue to expand our programs. (Know someone who might be interested? Show them this, please!.)
17. Expanding our access to funds and increasing income tiers to make it easier for more people to apply for final assistance and scholarships – more details coming soon.
18. Serving at least 500 youth through full scholarships – an increase of more than 40% in fully funded students in comparison to 2022.
19. Meeting with policy makers to promote and showcase the Training Academy at key outdoor events such as the Parks Professional Pathways Conference 2023, hosted by the BC Recreation and Parks Association, and the Ontario Camps Association [Re]Connects 2023.
21. Publishing our study on connecting with nature and reducing eco-anxiety. 235 OBC alumni participated in our 2022 survey and we were pleased to see that participation in our programs made them more hopeful in the fight against climate change. The full report will be released soon, so stay tuned!
22. Switching from an external provider to in-house preparation of all food packaging for courses at OBC bases, which means more efficient, cost-effective, and streamlined systems for preparing our expeditions.
23. Rekindling and strengthening our relationships with organizations such as Morley Community School, which was part of SAGE, a program that ran prior to the pandemic for Indigenous students from the Stoney Nation in Alberta; and building new relationships with other organizations such as Connect Charter School to optimize and expand our programs.