The Training Academy for Outdoor Professionals, funded by the Government of Canada under the Sectoral Initiatives Program for a three-year period as an investment in the economic recovery of the outdoor sector, launched its pilot program in 2022.
Read the Training Academy’s Impact Report
The Academy aims to address the representation gap in the outdoor sector and provide exceptional training for outdoor leaders. The program trains participants at no cost to acquire the technical skills and strengthen their social and emotional competencies to become Canada's next generation of outdoor leaders.
In 2022, the Training Academy ran in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario with 80 participants. Of these, 35% self-identified as BIPOC and/or 2SLGBTQ+. In 2023, the program will expand its reach to four regions across Canada with 10 programs and a goal of 200 participants.
After having to suspend these programs in 2020 due to the pandemic, we were excited to resume our urban programs in 2022, bringing experiential outdoor education to hundreds of youth at our urban centres. These programs are an important stepping stone to introducing youth to outdoor education and facilitating access to nature for those who are developing confidence in their outdoor skills before moving on to wilderness expeditions.
As we move through the last couple years in which our risk management team was busy with COVID-19 protocols, we are still however seeing the legacy of the pandemic on the youth we serve. The effect of the pandemic won't go away anytime soon, as young people struggle with the aftermath of two years of social isolation.
The significant and potentially long-term impact on adolescent mental health highlights the need for immediate and research-based action. In our June 2022 position paper Help Me Out: How outdoor education impacts and empowers youth to thrive,
we summarized the research on how outdoor experiential learning can help youth develop the resilience and social-emotional skills they need to succeed. The paper also includes recommendations for building capacity in outdoor education to ensure that all youth have access to quality outdoor education.
We discussed these recommendations in an opinion piece we co-authored with the Conference Board of Canada, Youth outdoor education programs create strong social emotional skills, build resilience, published in the Toronto Star in August 2022.
Our youth weren't the only ones who went beyond their limits in 2022: In June, eight OBC supporters journeyed to the Haida Gwaii archipelago in British Columbia to participate in the Reach Beyond Fundraising Expedition. The trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our supporters to overcome the physical challenge of crossing the open ocean and learn about Indigenous perspectives on the land. Together, they raised nearly $40,000 for our youth programs.