Common Questions

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We happily communicate with many parents each year. In our continued efforts to best prepare parents and students for their upcoming ALIVE Outdoors program we are sharing answers to some of the common questions we receive.

At this time ALIVE Outdoors wants parents and students to be informed about the importance of how we supervise Swimming Policies for Multi-Day Canoe TripsSun Protection, the prevention and spread of Bed Bugs, and Ticks and the potential exposure to Lyme Disease.

If you would like to talk with us directly please contact us via email:

Swimming Policies for Multi-Day Canoe Trips

  1. On all ALIVE Outdoors canoe trips, there will be at least one instructor who holds a current Water Rescue Certification and is responsible as the swimming guard. Applicable Water Rescue Certifications include: NLS, and SRT/WRT. These Third-Party Certifications are Provincially and Nationally recognized, each assesses an instructor’s ability to swim, perform a rescue, and deal with people in distress in and around the water. For all swimming, the swim guard will be present and must be actively supervising the swimming activities.
  2. ALIVE Outdoors requests schools to take the responsibility for administering swim tests to all students participating in canoe trips. If the school chooses not to administer a swim test, ALIVE Outdoors will refer to swimming ability information obtained from each student’s parents (moving forward an additional swimming ability form will be sent with our paperwork).
  3. Students who successfully complete a school administered swim test; at minimum have proven that they can swim 100m and tread water while maintaining a calm and stable floating body position. All students, faculty and instructors are required to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and close-toed shoes while swimming, canoeing or for any activity in the water.
  4. Swim guards are responsible to designate and communicate the boundaries of the swim area prior to students entering the water.
  5. While guarding, swim guards are required to wear closed toed shoes and be prepared to enter the water (i.e., wearing appropriate clothing, having a PFD available, and whistle). One actively supervising and qualified swim guard is required for every five swimmers in the water. When more than five students are swimming, swim guards must be located at different vantage points to oversee the swim area. A maximum of 10 students are allowed to be in the water swimming at any one time. In addition, every canoe trip has at least one instructor who holds a Wilderness First Responder certification (72 - 80 hour first aid course specific to the wilderness context).
  6. Diving or cliff-jumping, and swimming in the dark is strictly prohibited.
  7. No swimming will occur in moving water. (This excludes trips with whitewater specific programming, and qualified whitewater instructors).
  8. Swim guards must adhere to the ALIVE Canoe Trip Policies.


Sun Protection

Students spend significant time outdoors during their ALIVE Outdoors experience. We strongly recommend that each student is prepared to be outdoors by following the packing list for their program. Specifically, students must have waterproof sunblock rated to at least SPF 30, a hat with brim and a long sleeved shirt. In addition, we ask that you help us by sharing the importance of applying and reapplying sunblock throughout the day with your son or daughter.


Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs are a rising problem in the developed world. It is a common belief that bed bugs are found where people sleep; however, to date bed bugs have a much broader social impact. The source of bed bugs is unknown due to the multitude of places in which they can exist. For example: shops, hotels, hospitals, movie theatres and public transit systems such as planes and trains. Needless to say, you no longer need to sleep in an infested bed to experience the nuisance bed bugs can cause.  Unfortunately, camps and outdoor centers are not immune to this problem.

At ALIVE Outdoors we care deeply about the quality of our programs. With this in mind, we are providing you with this information to educate you - not alarm you.

To best protect your family upon your child’s return, we recommend following these precautionary steps:

  1. We have placed two large garbage bags on the packing list with the intention of having all clothes and bedding come home to you in sealed garbage bags inside your child’s duffel bag. Upon your child’s arrival home, take these bags directly to your washing machine. If you do not plan to do laundry right away please keep the bags sealed.

  2. Wash clothes and bedding in the hottest water possible. After the wash is complete, transfer the laundry immediately into the dryer for at least 30 minutes.  Ensure your dryer is set on high heat.

  3. In the case of delicate items that cannot be laundered, it is recommended that you place the items loosely in a tightly sealed bag.  The bag should then be placed into the freezer for a minimum of 24 hours.

  4. As bed bugs can also travel with your luggage, place your luggage in a black trash bag and leave it tied tightly for 4 days. If possible, place bagged luggage in the sun. Steam cleaning your luggage will also be sufficient. Remember to follow this precautionary step with your child’s toiletry bags as well.

This link to the Health Canada Website offers valuable information regarding bed bugs.


Ticks and Lyme Disease

In recent years there has been increasing media attention in regards to Lyme disease bearing ticks moving into Canada from Southern climates.  Currently, there are some areas in Southern Ontario that now have populations of a species called the Blacklegged Tick. A link to a map showing these areas can be found below.  While many species of tick are native to Ontario this particular species is the only one to date that has been shown to carry Lyme disease.

We consciously monitor this situation through ongoing consultation with the Public Health Units that oversee the regions where we run our programs.  The Health Units that we are in contact with include:

  • Simcoe/Muskoka District Health Unit (We operate programs only in the Muskoka portion of this district). Ph: (705)-721-7520
  • The Haliburton/Kawartha/Pine Ridge District Health Unit (We operate programs only in the Haliburton potion of this district). Ph: (705)-457-1391
  • The Timiskaming District Health Unit (This unit serves Temagami, our most northerly program area). Ph: (705)-647-4305

To date, all the areas in which we facilitate outdoor programming are considered non-endemic areas for Blacklegged Ticks and/or the Lyme Disease causing Bacteria.  This means that the Blacklegged ticks do not naturally exist there.

For more information regarding Ticks and Lyme Disease in Ontario please visit the Government of Ontario information page.

Follow this link for the map showing estimated risk areas for Lyme Bearing Ticks 


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