Arrowhead Woodland Explorers (AWE)

Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our children's health (and also, by the way, in our own).

- Richard Louv

Child-led and play-based outdoor learning opportunity for children ages 4-10 (limited to 15 kids).

8 Week Program Begins September 14th, 2020
1:30-4:30 pm Monday to Friday

We learn best by doing! Our ability to do, and learn by doing, has largely been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. With classroom and remote learning looking very different this year, the Arrowhead Woodland Explorers aims to provide a place where children can learn by doing, while taking a step back from their screen and connecting with others in real life in a safe and close-knit social group-outdoors!

Using evidence-based practices, we seek to inspire discovery and curiosity while developing fundamental skills including, cognition, social skills, balance and coordination, fine motor and gross motor skills, sensory integration, self-care and independence!

With the children and nature as our guide, we’ll incorporate a variety of STEAM (science, tech, engineering, arts, math) activities throughout the program. Your child will be encouraged to try new things, push their boundaries and take risks in a supportive environment.

This program is led by:

Becca Birnie: B.Ed., B.A.
with a Specialization in Therapeutic Recreation


Jordana Bengall: MScOT, BScH
Outdoor enthusiast and recent graduate of Western University’s Occupational Therapy program

Typical Day

Arrival & COVID Screen

Explorers will arrive at camp and a child-led COVID screen will be conducted.

Explorer Gathering

Explorers will gather once everyone has arrived for introductions and to play a game, sing a song and/or listen to a story. An activity explanation will set the tone for the day and rules/guidelines will be discussed.

Example Activity: Shelter Building

Explorers will be given the time and space to design and build shelters. Explorers will be encouraged to help each other with building and problem-solving. Additional support will be provided when needed.

Throughout this invitation to play, leaders will make use of opportunities to engage Explorers in further investigation. A leader may ask, for example: “I noticed you are placing all these logs in a certain shape.  Do you know what shape this is? Can you explain why you think a triangle is a helpful shape for a shelter?” Or, “I wonder why you picked this particular spot in the woods for your shelter?”

By offering opportunities for the Explorers to consider the how and why behind their choices and actions, we hope to enhance their ability to think critically.

Snack Time

Snack time will start with handwashing and Explorers will have a designated snack area. Parents are encouraged to pack reusable containers.

Continuation of Activity

Explorers will return to their activity (In this case Shelter Building). Free play and alternatives will be available.

Explorer Reflection & Goodbye

Explorers will gather for a reflection where highlights and challenges from the day will be discussed.

Pick Up

Parents will pick up their children at 4:30 PM.

Please note activities are flexible and based on child interest. There will always be alternative activities and opportunities for free play. Children will have the opportunity to choose how they spend the day in order to inspire creativity and autonomy. Additionally, children will be able to revisit areas of interest throughout the program to provide a sense of continuity, completion and totality.

Additionally, focused attention will be given to overarching themes that emerge based on child interest. These themes may be related back to curriculum-based topics, for example: if children show a particular interest in shelter-building we may focus on homes and habitats, world architecture, and possibly even wilderness survival.

The Benefits of Outdoor Play

Build self-esteem and confidence

In the outdoors, your child learns what they are capable of and can feel confident about their abilities in a supportive environment. They will be able to challenge themselves and gain new skills over the course of the 8-week program. Through this, they will gain independence and a stronger sense of self which will help build confidence and self-esteem, traits that will benefit them in any setting.

Increase creativity, curiosity, and imagination

There is so much to look at and learn from nature, whether you’re magnifying a tiny bug or looking up to the great blue sky. Learning about our surroundings inspires creativity, curiosity and imagination as your child learns more about themselves and how the world works.

Promote social-emotional development

Playing outside provides many opportunities to learn alongside peers. This is especially important right now if your child is learning from home and has limited interactions with other kids their age throughout the day. Being outdoors with other kids will create situations where your child will learn to share and communicate with others.

Develop sensory skills

Being outside challenges all of our senses in a natural way. Your child will be able to explore endless sights, sounds, smells, things to feel and touch, and perhaps even taste outside. Consider the value of an outdoor experience compared to being indoors staring at a screen. Providing an environment for your child to explore and interact with nature will create rich learning and development opportunities.

It is crucial for physical development

Our bodies were designed to move. The outdoors offers the perfect opportunity for your child to run, jump, skip, wiggle, climb and explore all the ways their strong body can move!

Gain resiliency and a love for the great outdoors

Your child will become more comfortable being outdoors in a variety of situations (ex: rainy days, muddy trails, etc.). This creates opportunities to build resiliency as your child learns that they can overcome difficult situations with the right attitude. Learning to love the outdoors and being comfortable in a variety of situations translates to resiliency in all situations, even indoors. As we are faced with ever-changing challenges, resiliency is an important trait that will help your child thrive wherever they are!

Arrowhead Woodland Explorers COVID-19 Precautions and Protocols

Arrowhead Woodland Explorers will be following local and national health guidelines for mitigating the risk of COVID-19 as closely as possible during our 8-week program. 

A Pod of Explorers

Your Explorer will be part of a pod of 15 children or less.  One of the draws of this program is that the group participants are consistent for the whole 8-week program, reducing the number of new people your child is exposed to and thereby reducing their risks of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Our vision is that a level of trust will be built within the families of this group, and communication with families and leaders will be forthcoming and truthful.     

Arrival and COVID-19 Screen

Please see below for the questions that you and your child will be asked to answer at drop off each day. We will do our best to make this screening as quick and fun as possible, while still ensuring that the required information is being shared. Drop off will occur in the parking lot. Guardians will not be permitted into the dining hall where Explorers will leave their belongings. We put this policy in place in an effort to limit the number of people in this space and to keep your Explorer as safe as possible. We realize drop off can be difficult for some children at times. Our leaders are very familiar with this and will do everything we can to make the transition as smooth and seamless as possible for both you and your Explorer. 

Personal Belongings

Your Explorer will have a designated area in the dining hall to leave their belongings. A.W.E. are the only ones occupying this building from Monday – Friday. Explorers will be asked to take home exactly what they brought with them each day. We discourage bringing any additional items, such as toys, that are not on the ‘Items to Bring’ list, as these can be easily lost and a draw for other children to touch and play with.

Physical Distancing During Activities

Group leaders will be continuously aware of spacing between Explorers and keeping hands to ourselves. Siblings and children of parents who have indicated to us that their child and another child are in the same ‘bubble’ will be able to eat their snack and play side by side. Hand sanitizer will be available and encouraged if handling of shared materials occurs. Please see below for our policies on masks. 

Snack Time

Snack time will start with supervised handwashing and Explorers will have a designated snack area. All materials packed in the snack kit will be returned in the snack kit (e.g. empty berry container).  This not only helps guardians be aware of what their Explorer has or has not eaten, but also keeps all of one’s belongings in one place.  We encourage all snacks to be packed in reusable containers, preferably wrapper free if possible.

Wearing Masks

All Explorers will be required to bring a mask with them each day. These masks may be kept safe in a pocket, or in a pouch attached to their body by a clip (such as a carabiner). The masks are to remain with the Explorer at all times in case we find ourselves in a situation where they need to put them on. For example, if we come across a very cool mushroom in the woods and everyone would like a peek, we will put our masks on so that heads can be closer together and children can better view the highlight. Also, in the case of extreme weather where we have to be inside the dining hall, masks will be required for activities where a 2m distance cannot be maintained.  

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Our small group will be the only people using the dining hall and washrooms at camp from Monday – Friday. Door handles, light switches, and washrooms will be cleaned and disinfected once per day (before arrival). If we are using materials for an activity, such as hammers, glue guns, or scissors, these items will be wiped down afterwards with disinfectant wipes.  

In the Case of Absence

As has been dictated and practiced by all day camp operators in the province, our leaders will follow up with any family whose child was absent from the program that day. We will determine the cause of any unplanned absences, and if the absence is due to illness, will make note of any symptoms (e.g. fever, sore throat, feeling unwell). The Explorer will be asked to remain home until symptom free for a period of at least 24 hours. If symptoms worsen, we will encourage the guardians to seek a COVID-19 test for their Explorer.

Daily COVID Screening Questions

Explorers who answer YES to any of these symptoms are to stay home.

COVID Screening Questions

canoe paddles icon

Camp Registration Now Open!