Our Impact Why We Exist
Project Canoe uses the outdoors, including wilderness canoeing, to create a transformative environment in which young people develop life skills, social competencies, and resiliency, thereby fostering their own personal success. We partner with our youth, supporting them as they carry these skills and successes forward to manage the complex challenges of their lives.
We approach youth from “where they are” and we gently encourage every individual to challenge themselves.
Our Story What We Do
History of Organization
Project Canoe has a rich 37 year history. We started our work in Regent Park when Dr. Herb Batt, along with close friends and colleagues, began to take youth from racialized and marginalized communities on wilderness canoe trips in Algonquin Park to facilitate their personal learning and growth. Over the years we have professionalized to offer a range of year-round and summer programs to youth who face multiple barriers in their lives, including behavioural, mental health, and economic barriers.
Accolades and Accomplishments
Here are a list of accomplishments of which we are proud:
- External Evaluation: We now have more than 10 years of program evaluation conducted by a professional, external evaluator that confirms the success of our program model and philosophy.
- Staff Training: We are known throughout the outdoor recreation and youth justice communities for our detailed, robust staff training. We intentionally hire Trip Leaders that come with 2 to 5 years of experience with youth who face multiple barriers. They also come with their outdoor technical skills and certifications. We then provide an additional six weeks of professional training for the staff to enable them to effectively manage complex behaviours and ensure they can create positive emotional spaces and experiences for each and every youth we serve.
- Risk Management Plan: Our Risk Management Plan is celebrated throughout the industry. We not only adhere to the Ontario Camps Association's guidelines, but we go above and beyond and set the bar for how to manage complex situations in a wilderness setting.
- In the Media: for almost 40 years, we have been repeatedly showcased in the media for our important, transformative work.
Our Programs How We Do It
At Project Canoe, we offer a variety of year-round programs, as well as our signature Summer Wilderness Canoe Program. The summer program includes a Leaders In Training Program, as well as a robust Intern Program.
Summer Wilderness Canoe Trip Program
The Wilderness Canoe Trip Program focuses on basic canoeing and camping skills, environmental awareness, and the development of valuable social and leadership skills such as co-operative decision making, team work, and conflict resolution.
Funding and Program Partners
Some of our supporters include: The Ontario Trillium Foundation, Jumpstart, and Mountain Equipment Co-op.
Some of our partners include: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Toronto District School Board, Trails Youth Initiatives, and The Spot.
We have provided our summer program (with follow-up year-round programming to build on what we seed in the summer months) to an average of 150 youth per year. We do this with a highly trained staff who provide a supportive environment at a 2:1 youth to staff ratio. We are known for our capacity to effectively work with youth who face multiple, complex barriers in their lives - youth that might not be a good fit for other outdoor and summer camping programs.
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program
Only 5% of Canadian children meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Children and Youth (60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily). There is no indication of a reversal in the trend (in 2007, the figure was 7%). - Toronto Vital Signs 2013
There are many barriers to children engaging in active transportation and physical activity, some of which are within families', teachers' and community leaders' power to influence. Others require changes in public policy and neighbourhood design. - Toronto Vital Signs 2013 Almost two-thirds of Canadian LGBT students and 61% of students with LGBT parents say they feel unsafe at school. - Toronto Vital Signs 2013
In 2010 Olivier was a youth participant with Project Canoe and as many of our youth do, had some of his own barriers that he had to deal with. With the support of the Project Canoe staff Olivier had a very successful 8 day canoe trip and came back to Project Canoe for a winter weekend that year to continue to build on the successes that he had and continue to bring those skills back to his community.
In 2012 Olivier entered into our Leadership Development program where skills on how to be a good leader, build confidence and self-esteem are taught through the use of a 21 day canoe trip through the Temagami region.
What You Can Do
Summer Wilderness Canoe Trip Program
Activities a donation will support
Financial support for this program enables us to provide full or partial subsidy to all youth participants with financial barriers - which is the majority of our program participants. Our foundation 5-day wilderness canoe trip costs $500/participant. The 8-day trip costs $800. Every $100 you donate sends a youth participant out for one day and night of the Wilderness Canoe Trip Program.
With financial support, Project Canoe will be able to provide a potentially life transforming experience for youth in the GTA who face multiple, complex barriers in their lives.