Teacher's Guide

Outdoor School Experience

Getting there and back — Transportation Tips

Arriving at Horseshoe Bay

Schools should make arrangements to arrive at Horseshoe Bay 30-45 minutes in advance of the ferry sailing or water taxi departures. This will allow sufficient time to process a large group with backpacks and manage unexpected situations that surface in your group.

Transportation to Sunshine Coast

Loading at BC Ferries — Meet at the foot passenger ticket booth next to the drop-off / pick up zone for public buses in Horseshoe Bay. A large totem pole rises close to the ticket booth. BC Ferries offers a 40 minute sailing connecting Horseshoe Bay with Langdale on the Sunshine Coast. Students and adults should carry their packs onto the ferry. Please do not use the baggage service as it causes confusion and delay on the other side at Langdale terminal.

Off-Loading at Langdale Terminal, Sunshine Coast

Ensure that your group is ready to disembark (with packs and empty bladders) from the lower car deck 15 minutes ahead of arrival. A 'roll call' at the front end of the lower car deck will make sure that all students and adults are accounted for before the ferry arrives and walk off passengers begin to disembark. Your group should disembark ahead of the car traffic. Keep to the right of the ramp and an Islander will meet you to facilitate the transfer of your group to Camp Elphinstone.

Return Trip

No tickets are required for the trip home. Just ensure that Sea to Sky, BC Ferries and your transportation at Horseshoe Bay are all clear on which sailing you are catching, and that you have given parents a good estimate of your arrival time.

Transportation to Gambier Island

Water taxis from Horseshoe Bay will be arranged by Sea to Sky Outdoor School to Camp Fircom on the south east end of Gambier Island. This sailing is approximately 30 minutes.  

Outdoor School Site Locations & Map

Sea To Sky Outdoor School operates from two locations — YMCA Camp Elphinstone on the Sunshine Coast and Camp Fircom on Gambier Island. Please see the map below, identifying Sea To Sky's two campus locations.

location map

Sunshine Coast

YMCA Camp Elphinstone is our Outdoor School site on the Sunshine Coast, just 2 km north of Langdale Ferry terminal. This campus provides a cluster of winterized cabins & lodges, a rec hall and cafeteria for our fall and spring season programs. The buildings sit on a large, flat grassy upland overlooking a beautiful ocean front. The campus looks east across Thornborough Channel to Gambier Island. Surrounding the camp facility are 400 acres of diverse ecology including forest, rocky bluff, a salmon bearing creek and intertidal environments — an ideal classroom setting. From Langdale Ferry Terminal, student groups can walk the 2 km to campus or paddle in our large voyageur canoes along the shoreline to Camp Elphinstone.

Gambier Island

Camp Fircom is our Outdoor School site on Gambier Island, located on the southeast corner of the Island, just north of Bowen Island. The facility is bordered by a spectacular granite shoreline covered in a fir-arbutus forest. Halkett Bay Marine Park is adjacent to the site. Camp Fircom has just recently opened its doors again after a multi million dollar reconstruction. New cabin and lodge accomodation and dining hall is now complemented by a newly renovated Rec Hall. State of the art washrooms with shower facilities have been designed to handle large groups. From here Sea to Sky makes use of an amazing classroom of big trees, creeks, wilderness beaches, high mossy bluffs and protected parkland. Water taxis from Horseshoe Bay or from Langdale arrive at the end of the government dock where students have a short 5 minute walk through big trees to our campus at Camp Fircom.

Community Guidelines — Rules and Values

Sea to Sky Outdoor School makes every effort to ensure that all participants have a safe, fun and educational island experience. We have adopted a set of Rules and Values which help us to achieve this. Sea To Sky's Rules acknowledge the fact that Sea to Sky uses the private property of Camp Elphinstone and Camp Fircom as their base for exploring the 'classrooms' of these ocean front locations. We embrace the rules that each of these organizations have for the use of their property. We ask all participants of Sea to Sky programs to respect these. The Values reinforce our mission as an organization with the hope that all participants are the best they can be and that they contribute in positive ways to the island community. A copy of our Rules and Values is included in Appendix 8.

Adult Meetings

During your time at Outdoor School, you can expect regular adult 'pow-wows'. These meetings provide opportunities to keep each other informed and ensure that we're working together to optimize your students' learning experience. Key meetings include the initial meeting, soon after you arrive, and the final "What now?" session with the lead teachers, shortly before your group departs.

Medical Care

Islander Site Staff are First Aid Certified. We are near medical facilities on the Sunshine Coast and in North Vancouver. We scrutinize all Personal Profile medical forms, but teachers are asked to be familiar with major student medical conditions and to hold and dispense any medications brought to the island.

Program Evaluation

Adult meetings provide a structured opportunity each day to give Sea to Sky input on what's working and what needs modification. That feedback enables Sea to Sky to respond quickly to a school's wishes or concerns. In addition, during lunch on the last day we also encourage adult participants to share their thoughts, comments and impressions in writing on a two sided evaluation form. The categories for comment on this written evaluation are as follows:

A copy of this program evaluation is found in Appendix 9.

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