Cheakamus Centre

Cheakamus Centre
Nature is in session

Our Vision

To be a dynamic centre of excellence for environmental and indigenous cultural education, and a welcoming place for learning, gathering and sharing in nature.

Our Mission

To create a hub of authentic, meaningful experiences that connect people to the natural world, and inspire sustainable values and behaviours.

Background

Established in 1969, Cheakamus Centre, formerly the North Vancouver Outdoor School, is an overnight field school and environmental studies facility located on 165 ha 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. Our renowned overnight field school and cultural programs include nature-based and outdoor activities tied to the new BC curriculum. Program offerings also include youth leadership, recreation, and other hands-on experiences 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 July 2012, the LEED® Platinum BlueShore Environmental Learning Centre (ELC) opened its doors in the heart of Cheakamus Centre campus, allowing for exciting new educational programs and environmental initiatives, and expanded conference and event space. At the same time, NVSD entered into a facilities management services agreement with Listel Hospitality Group to advance the broader vision for Cheakamus Centre as a centre of excellence in environmental education and sustainable hospitality.

Program Instructional Methodology

At Cheakamus Centre, we are committed to providing excellence in teaching and learning in, for, and about nature. Building on the legacy of the Outdoor School program, our programs use a range of outdoor spaces on the 165 ha (420 acre) ecological reserve to facilitate experiential learning for students from Grades 3 through 12. These experiences take place on extensive teaching trails, in forest shelters and alongside spawning channels and ponds. Additionally, we have special resource classrooms, amphitheaters, breakout spaces and an authentic Coast Salish longhouse.

 All our educational programs are tied to the new BC curriculum, ensuring that time spent outdoors supports learning objectives and core competencies. Our instructional team has developed a set of guiding principles or themes providing a framework that informs our program design and development. The info-graphic illustrates these principles and how they support and enhance curriculum connections.

As educators, we believe that a place-based approach promotes engagement and achievement through hands-on experiences in nature. We invite you and your students to find meaningful and engaging learning connections while exploring our ecological reserve.

An Overnight Environmental Education Experience

Field School offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves in educational experiences that are inspired by nature. Utilizing the Centre’s 165 ha (420 acre) ecological reserve, these experiences take place in an extensive network of trails, ancient forests, spawning channels, ponds, our teaching hatchery and working farm. This overnight program, offered in both the Spring and Fall, is designed for students in grades 4-9 and ranges from 2-4 days in length. Most importantly, Field School is about engaging learners in fun and meaningful ways that foster understanding and care for our natural world. 

Designed around 5 Guiding Principles, our curriculum-based programs seek to connect students to themes of Place, Inquiry, Community, Personal Connections and First Peoples’ Perspectives. With input from visiting teachers, Cheakamus Centre staff will design a hands-on, nature-based program that supports a range of curriculum connections. Visiting school groups can choose from a variety of seasonal field studies, recreational activities and evening programs to create a memorable outdoor learning experience for students and staff alike. 

Experience BC First Nations Culture

Cheakamus Centre is a leader in indigenous education. A variety of cultural programs for students and adults are available to enhance the experience in Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) territory. Guided by First Nations interpreters, learners will be immersed in traditional Coast Salish practices, including activities within an authentic longhouse and surrounding rainforest ecological reserve. Offerings range from the provincially recognized Skw'une-was 2-day program for Grade 3 students to other cultural offerings for elementary, secondary, post-secondary and corporate groups sharing the beauty, depth and vibrancy of Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) First Nation culture in fun, interactive and engaging ways.

Our Aboriginal Cultural Programs are aligned with the new BC Curriculum, and are designed to support the First People’s Principles of Learning.

Go back in time and experience a day in our traditional Coast Salish longhouse through this fantastic video.

Leadership Program

Our High School Leadership Program offers secondary students a unique experiential learning opportunity. With a focus on community building and connecting with nature, activities are designed to encourage communication, collaboration and trust. Many of the activities have nature-based themes and take advantage of the site’s many inspiring natural features.

Through cabin-living, sharing and contributing to a sustainable food program and experiencing connections to our eco-system and their community, Cheakamus programs foster a sense of belonging in students for their community and environment. Depending on the group’s preference and goals, activities can be tailored to include more environmental learning elements or can include a greater focus on recreational and challenge initiatives.