Nature is in session
Established in 1969, Cheakamus Centre, formerly the North Vancouver Outdoor School, is an overnight field school and environmental studies facility located on 420 acres of ecological reserve in Paradise Valley. This Centre is owned by the North Vancouver School District (NVSD) and offers a wide variety of experiential environmental programs to children and adults from the Sea to Sky corridor, lower mainland, and beyond. The flagship K-12 Outdoor School program includes field studies, youth leadership, outdoor recreation, and other direct experiences in nature intended to instill in young learners a sense of respect and appreciation for the natural world.
Cheakamus Centre also hosts visitors from around the globe for special events, retreats, conferences, seminars, and workshops. In June 2012, the BlueShore Financial Environmental Learning Centre opened its doors in the heart of the Cheakamus Centre campus, allowing for exciting new educational programs and environmental initiatives, and expanded conference and event space. The NVSD has recently partnered with Listel Canada to advance the broader vision for Cheakamus Centre as a destination and centre of excellence in environmental education and sustainable hospitality.
Program Instructional Methodology
The tenets of Cheakamus Centre’s instructional methodology are based upon: 1) developing an emotional tie between the learner and what they are studying; 2) Providing the learner with the physical and contextual environment that best facilitates the concepts being studied; 3)Providing the learner with the best tools and physical implements to investigate what is being studied; and 4) Providing learners with passionate and fully prepared instructors who utilize the best instructional strategies.
Natural Systems Program – Primary and Intermediate Environmental Field StudiesVisiting teachers work together with on-site staff to develop exceptional learning programs fully utilizing the Centre’s 165 ha (420 acre) ecological reserve. The extensive teaching trails, forests, streams, ponds, and special resource classrooms becomes learning centre through the seasons for science, mathematics, language arts, fine arts and social studies. Study units include: Aquatic Systems (salmon hatchery), Forest Systems, Food Systems (farm) and Eco Systems (eagles).
Cultural Systems: Skw’une-was Program - A Squamish Cultural Immersion Program
The cornerstones of the teachings at the Big House are sharing, respect and seasonality. Skw'une-was program teaches the historical practices of First Nations in a direct living experience: students, teachers, parent volunteers and Squamish cultural interpreters re-enact daily life in and around the Big House. Skw'une-was provides a contextual experience demonstrating the influence of human society on the natural balance throughout the seasons, over time, and across cultures.
Youth Leadership Program – Experiential Outdoor Environmental Leadership 10 (Counselling)
The EOEL course is a blended Distributed Learning (DL) experience, in partnership with the North Vancouver School District, which provides opportunities for students to develop their leadership and interpersonal skills while gaining a deep understanding of environmental and ecological knowledge. Students will access the DL portion of the course to give them background knowledge and information about leadership skills and specific environmental issues unique to the Outdoor School (Squamish) area and then practise these skills on-site at the Outdoor School. As student leadership counsellors, they will work with elementary students and guide them in such topics as wildlife habitat, fisheries biology, forest ecology, sustainable farming practices and animal husbandry. Registration for EOEL 10 is coordinated through the North Vancouver Distributed Learning School. Opportunities for high school students to volunteer as counselors are also available throughout the calendar year.
Moving Forward - Future activities at Cheakamus Centre will include expanded environmental education programs and community events for children, adults, families and professionals; aboriginal cultural experiences, eco-tourism and farm to table initiatives.
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