About Us

 

We are an outdoor, recreational and environmental based service company offering designed course packages, professional development training workshops and customized field studies for community based organizations, school districts, local schools and municipalities. 

Jeff Willis, Course Director

While being privileged to work within an amazing inner-city school, Jeff’s eyes and heart were fully opened to the importance of providing community and outdoor educational experiences, leadership training and connection with nature to the most deserving kids. It became clear to Jeff that all children and youth were being negatively impacted by the lack of access and opportunity to the great outdoor classroom.

Since then, Jeff has set out to make outdoor education a school, community, parent and individual a priority.

Jeff’s passion for experiential outdoor learning, education and community work is linked to:

Megan Nguyen, School Office Administrator

Since Megan was a young girl, she always knew that her passion and dreams were to help other people and to create a strong and positive community. Her passion leads her to pursue a Diploma in Hospitality Management at VCC. Megan loves exploring new places, learning about different cultures and people.

Megan is also interested in learning about human well-being and how we can increase our level of happiness through practicing meditation and gratitude. She has completed a course from Yale University called “The Science of Well-Being” and is determined to inspire and support others.

Allie Livesey, Educator

Allie has a love of the natural world which has taken her in many directions (including up many mountains!) With love and fascination for the land, Allie has spent many years building a relationship with the land in the Vancouver area by understanding her own ancestry and the history of the land she works and lives on, through her work on organic farms, by creating gardens and simply walking through the forest, through hiking & paddling, and harvesting plants for food and medicine. This is what has propelled Allie into the work of working with children, youth and adults on the land and is what she loves to offer at VOS. She is humbled and grateful to do this work on the unceded traditional lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Over the past few years, her love of plants has taken root and bloomed into the world of herbalism. She is passionate about exploring and sharing the uses of the plants that inhabit our world and creating dynamic learning environments to share this spark with others. She has a background in Community Development, nature connection and outdoor education, B. An in Indigenous Environmental Studies and Science and is working towards her Bachelor of Education and her certificate as a chartered herbalist. She has worked in various outdoor schools in both BC and Ontario as both a mentor, lead educator and outdoor guide.  

You can find Allie out in wild places and spaces, learning about her Celtic and Mediterranean ancestry, working with natural fibres, out in the garden, riding her bike, or with her nose deep in a book with a nice cup of tea. 

She hopes that through her work with Vancouver Outdoor School she can help others foster a deep connection and relationship with themselves, each other and with the land.

Lenaya Sampson, Educator

Lenaya is a Nlaka’pamux woman who lives, works and plays within the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh territories. Her love for nature was rekindled when she attended numerous outdoor leadership programs. As she grew, her understanding and love for her culture also grew. She is sharing a more Indigenous perspective, not only the history of Indigenous peoples but also on topics such as climate change education, STEM, and outdoor education, just to name a few. She is looking forward to seeing you in the outdoor classroom!

TJ Turenne, Educator

TJ holds a Bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Victoria specializing in entrepreneurship, but his passion for the environment has always led him to work in the great outdoors. For the past three years he has worked with youth as a nature-educator, guide, interpreter, and leadership course instructor for various organizations in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
 
Outside of his work, he is a self-propelled travel lover and avid language learner. He is fluent in English and French, and is currently learning Spanish and Thai. His world adventures have brought him paddling, backpacking, and cycling in bio-regions everywhere from Africa to Southeast Asia. Throughout these experiences he has come to appreciate how outdoor adventures can empower us to deepen our connections with the environment and each other. He considers it his personal mission to inspire others to deepen their connection with the natural world in their own communities. TJ believes the first step to caring about nature is experiencing it first-hand and strives to instil a sense of wonder for the natural world in everyone he meets.

Melissa Ellingham, Educator

Melissa’s fascination with the outdoors started from an early age and continued to grow as she did. Through participating in numerous outdoor leadership programs, her skills and curiosity were heightened, yet camping remained a seasonal hobby throughout her adolescence. As she aged, Melissa started her career as a chef, yet still found herself referencing the skills she learned years prior in the backcountry. 

Melissa pursued her love of food around the globe, immersing herself amongst other cultures on solo expeditions to understand how food and nature can bring us together as a global society. Back in Canada, bringing her culinary skills outdoors seemed like a logical way to connect her passions. Since then, Melissa has strived to create space for youth to not only connect with nature, but experience and understand the ingredients we are blessed to be surrounded by.

 Our Belief Statements

 

 

  • We believe learning needs to be flexible, intentional, student-centred and inspiring.
  • We believe that curriculum needs to relevant and experiential.
  • We believe the earth is the greatest teacher and classroom.
  • We believe you are never too young to be a steward of the earth, and a responsible citizen.
  • We believe kids, families and adults should play, learn, and explore in the outdoors, while learning to respect each other and the world.
  • We believe we are responsible for making the world a better place through service, education and being. Whether this means picking up litter, or performing random acts of kindness, we fuel our learning days with caring.
  • We believe are all connected spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally.
  • We believe Indigenous people have rightful title to the land and to their culture. We also believe we have much to learn from Indigenous people, and their thousands of years of teaching and sharing experience.
  • We believe you have an entire lifetime to be an adult and a short time to be a kid. That’s why we strive to provide kids (and adults, too!) with the ultimate “kid experience!”

Wonder. Wisdom. Work. Wellness.
Core Competencies

Personal Awareness & Responsibility

Self-determination
Self-regulation
Well-being

Critical Thinking

Analyze and critique
Question and investigate
Develop and design

Positive Personal & Cultural Identity

Relationship and cultural contexts
Personal values and choice
Personal strengths and abilities

Creative Thinking

Novelty and value
Generating ideas
Developing ideas

Social Responsibility

Contribute to community and care for the environment
Solving problems in peaceful ways
Value diversity
Build relationships

Communication

Connect and engage with others
Collaborate to plan, carry out, and review constructions and activities
Explain/recount and reflect on experiences and accomplishments

Past Projects

Camp Suzuki 2015-2017

Upcoming Opportunities:

Invite the VOS Team to visit your school!

We’ll ask questions about your outdoor education needs and wishes, assess your facilities and brainstorm programming options with you. Contact us at office@vancouveroutdoorschool.com to arrange a time.