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Outdoor Schools

All About Outdoor Schools

For more than 30 years, Camp Chief Hector YMCA has hosted groups of grade 5 to 12 students at our Outdoor Schools programs. These unique opportunities enhance school learning, build communication and cooperative skills and provide a shared experience for students of different backgrounds. Financial assistance is available, to those who qualify, through the YMCA Strong Kids Opportunity Fund.

All Outdoor Schools programs are centered on the four YMCA core values: Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility. By blending the skills of dynamic staff and carefully selected learning activities, we have built a legacy of building strong kids who become community leaders in years to come.

Outdoor School Options

  • Eco School: This four-day program aims to develop environmental awareness and community building in an outdoor setting for students in grades 4, 5 or 6. Student learning is fun, active and experiential. Outdoor School counsellors help students explore the Bow Valley, examine various tree species, play the Predator-Prey game and build teamwork through jungle rock and challenge course. It is possible to adapt the traditional program in order to meet the unique learning goals of your students.
    140 students maximum
  • Outdoor Experiential School (OES): This four-day program is designed for students in grades 7 to 12 and aims to foster positive social growth, group awareness and leadership development. Students participate in a number of activities designed to develop teamwork and outdoor living skills such as hiking, canoeing, high ropes, the challenge course, initiative task, fire-building, camp craft and archery.
    100 students maximum
  • Sunship Earth (SSE): A four-day internationally recognized grade 4 to 6 program developed by the Institute for Earth Education that encourages students to reconnect with the earth and reflect upon their ecological practices. Students learn about energy flow, cycling, diversity, community, interrelationships, change and adaptations. Activities such as helping a giant leaf photosynthesize, building soil from rocks and playing the role of a squirrel as its food resources change, helps students to understand these concepts. Students also take part in the Predator-Prey game, team-building activities and the construction of a small world.
    120 students maximum
  • Hector Spring School (HSS): A four-day program designed to meet various learning objectives from the grades 4 to 6 Science and Social Studies curricula. Students will learn about the food chain as they play the Predator-Prey game and revisit the past as they explore our Voyageur heritage. During their day hike, students will venture around the foothills and learn to identify different tree species as they explore the forest and wetlands. Students will learn about the stories of early Canadians as they participate in cultural activities, such as tipi living and animal tracking.
    225 students maximum
  • Custom Bookings: Programs are available for school groups who want to work together and develop leadership skills. With the guidance of YMCA staff members, students are able to participate in activities such as initiative games, jungle rock, archery, hiking, the challenge course and the high-ropes area. It is also possible to book our site for teacher-facilitated programs or band camps. Program length can range from a one-day experience to a multiple day residential program. Rates vary depending on program options.

Booking Information

Due to the popularity of YMCA Outdoor Schools, applications are accepted three seasons in advance.


ECO School

Outdoor Experiential School (OES)

SunshipTM Earth

 Hector Spring School

Other Resources

Financial Assistance (YMCA Strong Kids Fund)

Epi Pen Notification Form

Safety & Risk Awareness

Contact Information

Camp Chief Hector YMCA (Calgary office)
P: 403-269-6156 or 1-866-430-9622 | F: 403-508-2629 | E: cchy@ymcacalgary.org


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