Regular Programming

More Than Just Fun

At Pictou County Forest School we believe in experiential education.

Programming at Pictou County Forest School consists of six 5-week sessions during the school year. Children will attend one day per week during each session.

PCFS operates during school hours. Research and experience from other outdoor schools indicates that a child’s participation one day per week in a nature immersion program supports success in their other weekly endeavours. This can mean higher grades, better focus, more positive social interactions, increased participation in family and household activities and chores, and a generally increased sense of autonomy and well-being.

Our programs are designed to complement conventional classroom learning and homeschooling/ unschooling choices. Our goal at PCFS is to work with schools and classroom teachers to help students reach their full potential.

Seedlings: Ages 3-5

This 1/2 day Fall session is designed to introduce younger children to our forest and basecamp. The program is inspired by a child-oriented learning approach with activities freely conducted in the natural environment. Through short exposure to real nature, young children’s psychophysical well-being and quality of life, cognitive function, motor coordination and balance, connectedness to nature, and health and well-being improves. Participants will develop positive resilience, initiative, and self-regulation.

*Children must be potty-trained and will be required to carry their own backpack to basecamp, containing snacks and lunch, water, a seasonally appropriate change of clothes, and a light coat if rain is in the forecast. Please do not pack toys or special belongings from home.

Goslings: Ages 5-7

Through an exploration of nature using all their senses, the primary goal of this program is to help children learn to pay attention, value questions over answers, and develop curiosity about the world around them.

With all of our programs we strive to develop a sense of wonder, resiliency, and a deep sense of belonging. Goslings is about growing nature-connected children from a young age. This means children who are calmer, more aware, compassionate and joyful. Goslings is about laying the groundwork for a person who is resilient and comfortable in the natural world, and in their own skin, for life.

What you and your child can expect:

A thrilling, nurturing, and magical atmosphere in a wild hemlock forest setting.

Responsible and nurturing instructors supporting small groups with a low ratio.

Goslings instructors emphasize the sense of wonder and mystery in the natural world through exploration, free-play, and lots of song and story.

See you out there!

Note: Program content and descriptions are drawn from The Guelph Outdoor School

Foxes: Ages 8-11

Nimble, clever, quick, fun-loving. Foxes is a celebration of child passions: climbing, running, sneaking, listening, hiding. This program is also a step into the world of competence and self-sufficiency: building skills in fire tending, shelter building and tool use. Tracking adventures satisfy the inquisitive and creative mind at this age, providing ample opportunity for inference, storytelling, deduction, and pattern recognition. Foxes delivers invisible learning and healthy growth with the volume turned up on fun!

What you and your child can expect:

A welcoming and nurturing atmosphere in a hemlock forest. Days of exploring, practicing skills, and games that teach.

Our model seeks to support young people in becoming resilient, capable, and service-minded. Our daily endeavors promote attributes such as: Quiet Mind, Common Sense, Aliveness and Agility, Inquisitive Focus, Caring and Tending, Service to Community, Awe and Reverence, and Self-Sufficiency. We foster these attributes through a set of core routines and nature-based challenges. The learning experience is dynamic, emergent, multi-sensory, and exciting.

Note: Program content and descriptions are drawn from The Guelph Outdoor School

Wolves: Ages 12-14

Mastering skills, Developing our Gifts, Service, & Resilience.

Wolves fosters a balance between self-sufficiency and cooperative work by showing how individual gifts inevitably enrich community. The program engages “hard skills” (fire-tending, shelter building, tracking, and tool use) balanced with “soft skills” (listening and speaking, journaling, solo sit spots, awareness, and stewardship).

What you and your child can expect:

Similar to the other programs offered at the Pictou County Forest School, the Wolves program supports young people in growing into their best selves. Our goal is to support children in becoming increasingly capable, compassionate, and service-minded. Our model promotes the attributes of connected children: Quiet Mind, Common Sense, Aliveness and Agility, Inquisitive Focus, Caring and Tending, Service to Community, Awe and Reverence, and Self-Sufficiency.

Learning and development happens consistently and invisibly through story-telling and song, thrilling games and nature-based challenges, hands-on tasks, reflective moments in wild spaces, role-modelling and mentorship.

*The Wolves program is high physical activity so these youth will need to be capable. Most days there will be strenuous physical activity and may include a 5 to 10 kilometre hike. Most sessions will have 2 off-site dates within Pictou County, details will be provided prior to the dates*

Note: Program content and descriptions are drawn from The Guelph Outdoor School

Lynxes: grade 9-12 (female identifying)

The word “lynx” comes from the etymological root “light” which refers to the animal’s reflective bright eyes. They can spot prey from over 200 feet away, and can be solitary but may travel and hunt in small groups. In colder and more northerly climates the lynx have progressively thicker fur, and their population stability depends on predation, food, and social interaction.

In this program, we’ll use our passion and creativity to set short and long term goals, cultivate independence and develop skills to work in teams. We’ll harness our ability to grow and adapt to the environment, and share knowledge and nourishment, and ripen our capacity for leadership. We’ll meet once per month, from February to June, and the culmination of the program will end with an overnight expedition in June.

*Space is extremely limited in order to maintain our low student-to-instructor ratio*

Coyotes: Ages 14-16 (male-identifying)

This course teaches youth self-reliance and develops a love of the outdoors and all things living. Participants will learn to overcome challenges in the face of adversity and work together as a team towards a common goal. The course will take place one Saturday of every month, beginning in September and ending in June. Similar to our other programs this course will teach a combination of natural history and skills to survive and thrive outside. This is a more challenging course than many of the other programs we offer but still filled with fun. Throughout the course students will craft a tool beginning in October and work on them through the course of the year (past tools include canoe paddle and bow). The March session will be an overnight winter camping experience, and the final June session will be an overnight camping and canoeing expedition. The location of this course will move around between a variety of locations in Pictou County.