Trails Program

Program Objectives

Our goal is to instill practical skills, relevant knowledge, and the self-confidence to use them. Trails strives for lasting improvements in:

  • Emotional Competencies Icon

    Emotional Competencies

    Creative self-expression, reflective journaling, understanding personal boundaries, conflict resolution, communication skills, cooperative teamwork, leadership, and mentorship.

  • Social Competencies Icon

    Social Competencies

    Self-awareness, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-regulation, and coping skills during crisis time.

  • Physical and Mental Health Icon

    Physical and Mental Health

    Physical and outdoor skills development, healthy risk-taking, reduced anxiety, environmental stewardship and healthy awareness of sexuality, narcotics and alcohol.

  • Academic and Employability Icon

    Academic Performance and Employability

    Responsibility for and commitment to education, effective problem solving, critical thinking, time management and employability skills.

Trails Program Badge


Program scaffolding is a core concept in which each element is based on previous learnings.

  • Group Huddle

    Year I: Trust

    Participants arrive nervous and curious, and are introduced to the “Trails Way."

    • Experiential, adventure-based learning
    • Using the outdoors to teach life skills
    • The importance and development of trust with peers, staff, and themselves
  • Girls Skating

    Year II: Self-confidence

    Kids are supported through more intense challenges and experiences.

    • Increased awareness and knowledge of the impact of personal actions
    • Skills such as self-regulation, time management, and self-efficacy
    • Growth as a community through feedback and support
  • Trials Kids working together outdoors

    Year III: Consistency

    Teaching relevant skills and building relevant knowledge.

    • Communication, teamwork, and behavioural interventions
    • Leadership roles such as being "Leader of the Day"
    • Co-facilitation of programming and group meetings
  • Trust activity

    Year IV: Commitment

    Participants are ready to spread their wings and become contributing members of the community.

    • Development of healthy living skills, and social and emotional literacy
    • Deeper commitment to themselves and their communities
    • Ability to transfer their learnings beyond themselves
  • United Trailblazers Group

    Year V: Contribution (LIT)

    WIth their increased skills, knowledge and confidence, their horizons expand and they transfer their learnings to younger participants.

    • Utilizing skills, knowledge and confidence to take on leadership
    • Stimulated interest in community contribution
  • Trails Family Group photo

    Year VI: Engagement (FIT)

    Graduates interested and capable of creating change have the opportunity for employment with paid intern positions at Trails.

    • Interested and capable of creating change
    • Development of job skills, leadership, and commitment


Participants move from the “Four Seasons, Four Years” program to the “For Life” program, including mentorship, bursaries and career connections.

View the trails curriculum

Always learning, always growing

Our leadership team consistently seek feedback from participants to ensure program success. Each participant is surveyed twice a year to reflect on their growth in a number of priority areas. Every quarter, participants have a one on one Key Kid Check-in with a staff where they are given the opportunity to provide feedback. In addition, community meetings are held at the end of each session to provide a platform for participants to offer their concerns and solutions for program improvement. These quantitative and qualitative measurements are taken into consideration for program design, curriculum development and facility improvements. Some examples of changes led by youth participants include:

  • Our lodge (1998) and Hilltop Cabin (2017) were designed by our youth in conjunction with an architect.
  • The LITs (2016) wanted to increase their training at Trails and pitched the FIT program which is now a staple program element.
  • The LBP group (2018) requested variety in their sleeping arrangements which led to the creation of a new group overnight initiative with winter camping and lodge sleepovers.
  • Every evening, participants go to an activity of their choosing, called Freebies. Ice skating was never allowed because of safety on the ice in the dark. The youth (2019) did research on putting a spotlight on a nearby pole and our Facilities Manager was able to make it happen. Nighttime skating is now a group favourite.
  • The LITs (2020) asked for more say in their summer session. Staff decided that instead of setting the schedule, the LITs would be given working parameters and be responsible for choosing location, timing and activities.