The Trails Way

Each year Trails welcomes 20 new youth to embark on their four-year journey (10 boys & 10 girls). In addition, an optional fifth year is offered with the Leadership-in-Training (LIT) programme, where participants have the opportunity to further develop leadership and life skills.  Thus Trails supports a total of 88 youth each year.

The result:

  • Four high school credits in Healthy Active Living
  • 40 hours of community service
  • 30+ days of wilderness tripping experiences
  • 40+ hours of yoga
  • 10 hours of training in Non-Violent Communication
  • Emergency First Aid (CPR)) Certification
  • Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award
  • 20 + Hours Peer Mentoring/Teaching
  • Mentorships through Grade 11-12
  • Access to bursaries to attend post-secondary education

Over 90% of our youth complete high school and go on to attend post-secondary education.

High School Credits

In 2001, Trails was granted permission to administer high school credits as a Privately Inspected School by the Ministry of Education. If a student remains in our programme for the full five years, they have the opportunity to accumulate 4 credits in outdoor education:

  • PPL10/PAD 10
    1.0 credit Completed over Year 2
  • PPL20/PAD 20
    1.0 credit Completed over Year 3
  • PPL30/PAD 30
    1.0 credit Completed over Year 4
  • PPL40/PAD 40
    1.0 credit Completed over Year 5

Programme Objectives

Our programme objectives are to instill practical skills, relevant knowledge and the self-confidence to use them. Through ongoing evaluation we consistently measure our lasting impacts:

  • Improved Social Competencies –e.g., creative self-expression, reflective journaling, understanding personal boundaries, conflict resolution, communication skills, cooperative teamwork, leadership and mentorship
  • Improved Emotional Competencies –e.g., self-awareness, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-regulation and coping skills during crisis time
  • Improved Physical and Mental Health –e.g., physical and outdoor skills development, healthy risk taking, reduced anxiety and reduced use of narcotics and alcohol, and environmental stewardship
  • Improved Academic Performance and Employability –e.g., responsibility for and commitment to their education, effective problem solving, employability skills

Curriculum Topics of Instruction

  • Fitness plans, nutrition and wellness
  • Wilderness Trip Planning
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Outdoor Competencies (canoeing, kayaking, skiing, snowshoeing)
  • Non-violent communication
  • Yoga and Mindfulness
  • Healthy Boundaries
  • Group Dynamics and Leadership Theories
  • Sexuality and Human Development
  • Social Justice Education
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Stress Management and coping Strategies
  • Resume Writing
  • Interviewing Skills
  • Future Planning: Career Portfolio’s
  • Teaching/facilitating group discussion
  • Feedback and evaluation
  • Problem solving/decision making
  • Conflict Resolution

The strategies used are varied to meet the needs and the range of learning styles encountered in a group of students and include the following:

  • Guest Speakers
  • Journaling
  • Small group cooperative learning
  • Role playing
  • Oral Presentations
  • One to one mentoring
  • Field Trips
  • Group Expedition
  • Workshops
  • Socratic discussions
  • Peer Feedback
  • Experiential Learning

Limberlost Northern Campus

Limberlost Wildlife and Nature Reserve, near Huntsville, is Trails’ Northern site for special purpose trips. This campus provides exposure to nature and builds confidence, the ability to adapt, and development long-standing values.

Outreach Programme

Students who are vulnerable have a variety of risk factors in their lives, and lack the necessary skills to navigate through the school system are in need of extra support. Students at Trails are taught the skills needed to become functioning members of their communities.

Through the Outreach programme at Trails, we will create an equitable and personally challenging environment that fosters healing, growth, and academic engagement. Our goal is to nurture healthy individuals through intervention and healing practices in nature. Critical thinking skills, leadership, resiliency, mental, physical and emotional health will be promoted to support a strong student voice.

Trails works with various schools, creating a curriculum that is based on the Trails model. Students will travel to Trails Youth Initiatives a minimum of five times throughout the school year. They will have the opportunity to engage in seasonal outdoor activities and other workshops that promote well-being.

Sample Programme Activies

  • Ropes Course (low and high)
  • Hiking
  • Canoeing
  • Outdoor Team Building
  • Snowshoeing
  • Yoga/Mindfulness
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Healthy Boundaries
  • Fire Building and primitive skills
  • Solo and nature activities

Current Partners

York Catholic District School Board: St. Thomas Aquinas, Father Henri Nouwen St. Clare, Blessed Trinity and St. John Chrysostom

York Region District School Board: Fairwood PS, Jersey PS, and Lakeview