This summer school is all fun, all outdoors, all day

Let your kids find their inner wild child this summer, with a camp that takes them out in the woods and lets them play all day.

Woods are classroom at PEI Wild Child Forest School

P.E.I. kids can head out to the forest for special camps over the next few months that let them learn and experience what it's like in the woods. (Wild Child PEI)

A new program is introducing Island youngsters to the forest over the next few months.

It's called the PEI Wild Child Forest School, an off-shoot of the Wild Child program that takes kids out of day cares and into the outdoors for a couple of hours, run by the Sierra Club.

This one is a lot more extensive though, a nature immersion program that takes them right into the woods.

"What we're going to be doing in P.E.I. are spring programs and summer programs," coordinator Hannah Gehrels told Angela Walker on Mainstreet. "So spring programs are three hours each week for six or seven weeks, and the summer programs will be more like summer camps, a full day, Monday to Friday camps.

Hannah Gehrels is projects coordinator for PEI Wild Child. (CBC)
"The forest school, all of our programming is outdoors for the entire time, rain or shine. The main components of forest school are repeated access to nature over time, and it's very child-led, child emergent, it has very low staff-to-child ratio so we can include lots of elements of some risky play and letting kids explore the woods and explore their curiosities about anything in nature."

The City of Charlottetown is letting the program operate out of the Jack "Bomber" Callaghan park.

Rain not a problem

The nearby forest provides lots of cover from the direct heat of the summer, and Gehrels said rainy days won't be a problem either.

"We have a tarp set up in the forest and a place where they can hang their backpacks, so we can do things under the tarp," she said.

"But also we'll be spending some time running around the woods, and we'll play games to keep warm. There's lots you can do when it's raining, with mud kitchens, you have buckets to play with the water, and all sorts of things. Also, of course, building forts, so that would definitely be probably high on the kids' interest list."

There are camps offered for the three-to-five age group, and for six-plus. For younger kids they will keep the instructor-to-camper ratio at 10 to one, and a maximum of 12 to one for the older ones.

Camps are being offered for kids 3 - 5, and 6-plus. (Shutterstock)
The program has been offered in other province, and Gehrels said the benefits are obvious.

"Some kids have huge behavioural differences when they're out in the woods, compared to when they're inside in a classroom. And there's a lot of evidence that shows the emotional and physical benefits of being outside, playing outside, and that connection to nature."

The spring programs have already begun, although there is room for newcomers to join. The summer camps start July 3. Anyone interested can write and view more information at

From the Mainstreet interview by Angela Walker