Don’t have any experience as a tripping guide? No problem. We provide all the necessary training, certifications, and experience for our volunteers to become qualified canoe trip leaders. While this is a volunteer position, Camp Outlook also provides trip leaders with room and board throughout the program, along with the necessary tripping equipment. We value access to wilderness spaces, both for our campers and our volunteers. We recognize that canoe tripping has numerous barriers to entry and we want to make volunteering with Camp Outlook as accessible as possible. We also know that the outdoors industry has traditionally excluded marginalized people and we want to be a part of changing that. People of all backgrounds, identities, and life experiences, especially marginalized people, are encouraged to apply.
WHAT IS CAMP OUTLOOK?
Created in 1970 by a Queen's University medical student, Camp Outlook is an independent, community-based, non-profit, charitable organization, run entirely by volunteers. We believe strongly in the worth and potential of all youth, the power of experiential learning, and the therapeutic value of wilderness tripping. Our mission is to provide young people a chance to develop their sense of self-worth, inner strength, and capacity to succeed. To do this we provide youth of all genders, ages 13 to 17, with the opportunity to experience wilderness camping on summer backcountry canoe trips and fall/winter hiking trips and day activities. We use the therapeutic nature of wilderness tripping to provide an environment that allows them to respond to nature’s challenges and learn about their own abilities in a team while being supported by trained trip leaders. Teamwork and cooperation are what allows our trips to run smoothly; our trip groups often come back from their adventure as a strong community. We are accredited by the Ontario Camps Association.
WHO ARE OUR CAMPERS?
Camp Outlook seeks to provide a wilderness camping experience to youth who may especially benefit from exploring their strengths and skills along with other youth in the outdoors as part of a supportive and small tripping group community. They are youth who may have difficulty coping with their daily environment, who may be faced with particularly challenging situations, or who may not otherwise afford to go on a wilderness trip. Most campers are referred to us by social agencies such as Pathways to Education, the Boys and Girls Club, Youth Diversion, Children’s Aid Services, schools, and other professionals who work with youth. Camp Outlook trips help to foster self confidence in campers by immersing them in a new environment and allowing them to see that they can meet the challenges they face in the woods, and by extension the challenges they face at home as well. There is no fee for campers to participate in our programs. We strive to make Camp Outlook as financially accessible as possible to all campers and so we do not charge anything to go on trip with us.
WHAT IS THE SUMMER LIKE?
The summer begins in Kingston in late May when we start our training. Over the first 6 weeks, you are trained in all the skills you will need to lead safe and fun canoe trips (from paddling to camp cooking to communication to conflict mediation to emotionally supportive strategies). This training includes Advanced Wilderness First Aid and Bronze Cross/Medallion certifications, along with an 8-day practice canoe trip in Algonquin Park to solidify your wilderness camping and leadership skills. You are expected to participate in all of training; it is a more than a 9-5 commitment and is run throughout the week, including weekends.
During July and August, you will embark upon three or four 9-day, or maybe even 14-day, canoe trips in beautiful Algonquin Park. Our trip groups are small, with 2 to 3 trip leaders and 4 to 6 campers on each trip, as we have found that this allows us to create an excellent community spirit and get to know our campers well. We allow our trip leaders the freedom to personalize the trips in most areas, and a large part of the role is to prepare every aspect of your trips before you leave. While in the park, you have responsibility for our campers, and as such you must ensure that they have a positive and safe experience throughout the trip.
On a typical day on trip you will prepare breakfast for your group and coordinate site take-down and packing. From your backcountry campsite you will paddle across lakes and hike over land carrying your equipment (“portaging”) to get to your next campsite. Between one site and the next: the day is yours! Break it up with games, swimming, long lunches and snacks, exploring, general relaxing, or other things that spark interest. In the evenings, you will light your campfire and begin dinner as the campers set up tents and shelters. This is a great opportunity to teach skills you have learned, such as rope work and fire craft. After dinner, everyone tends to be pretty tired out, and you can take a relaxed evening to chat with your campers, play games, and watch the stars and loons before falling asleep in the beauty of Algonquin Provincial Park.
WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU:
An unwavering commitment to our youth. No prior experience, certifications, or formal education is necessary. Only a universal attitude of respect for our campers is required.
An openness to learning. Everyone comes with their own skills, experiences, and areas for improvement; teaching and learning from each other is an essential part of building our team.
A willingness to try again. We know that growth takes time and that failure is a part of learning. You’ll need to practise with an openness to feedback and different perspectives.
This may seem like a large commitment, but without fail our volunteers find their time with Camp Outlook to be extremely rewarding and unforgettable. We encourage everyone to apply, even if this sounds daunting or if you feel like you may not have the necessary background. Again, there is no experience necessary!!! We especially encourage marginalized people, including Indigenous, racialized, and LGBTQ+ people, to apply. If you would like to apply, find out more, or have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I was MADE for this" - Camper, 16 years old, about portaging