FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We work diligently to communicate as much information as we possibly can about our ALIVE experiences, and even then, there are sometimes questions that arise based on individual needs. It is of utmost importance that each student and their family has enough information about our programs to bring peace of mind. If your questions are not answered on this page we encourage you to reach out to us directly, as our ultimate goal is to ensure that each person has the information that they need to feel confident and grounded about their ALIVE program.
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Programs will be taking place at several locations throughout the GTA and surrounding area. These locations include; Trails Youth Initiatives in Whitchurch-Stouffville, Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville as well as Sherwood Park, Sunnybrook Park, Blythwood Ravine Park and Edwards Gardens in Toronto. Please see the location of your student’s program on the Letter to Parents sent home in the program paperwork package.
For students participating in a program at:
Trails Youth Initiatives, it is approximately 15 minutes to the Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ontario.
Bronte Creek Provincial Park it is approximately 15 minutes to the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital in Oakville, Ontario.
Sherwood Park, Sunnybrook Park, Blythwood Ravine Park and Edwards Gardens all these locations are located in the city of Toronto and are accessible by ambulance.
This program is designed grounded in the philosophy of experiential education which encourages students to learn by doing. Instructors will work hard to create opportunities for students to step out of their comfort zone and spark curiosity which will help them step away from their preconceived assumptions of self.
During all ALIVE programs, we challenge students to “unplug.” It is so rare to have an opportunity to be immersed in nature away from all the gadgets that have taken over our lives. These trips are an opportunity to connect and learn from one another rather than the screen. We ask for your cooperation in motivating your child to not use distracting devices during the program. Thank you.
All instructors are certified in Standard First Aid/CPR. The instructor team is fun, enthusiastic, and committed to helping your child experience personal growth in a caring and enriching learning environment.
Our programming is built to be flexible based on a variety of weather conditions. We do ask that students are prepared to be outside during rain and winter conditions.
As the landscape of COVID-19 continues to change, we remain flexible and committed to upholding thorough and current COVID-19 Practices and Policies. We are monitoring the situation closely and are following all available advice from Public Health Officials in Ontario and the Public Health Agency of Canada. If you would like to learn more, please visit our Health and Safety Page.
Camp Based Programs (Spring, Fall & Winter)
General Activity Questions
Prior to the program, all parents/guardian(s) will receive a paperwork package which contains an introductory letter that includes an overview of the program and specific information about the activities that will be available to students. You can also learn more about the activities we offer by reviewing our Program Guide. After receiving this information, if you have further questions please contact us. A member of our team would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
At ALIVE, our dedicated Instructor team works with each student to help them step beyond their comfort zone with a supportive approach. If students are uncomfortable with heights or water based activities, our instructors are able to shift any program to accommodate the needs of all students while providing an encouraging and caring space for them to still actively participate.
Each school approaches the placement of students in cabin and rotation groups differently. We are not involved in making the groups. One of the many goals of these experiences is for students to expand their social network and to cultivate new friendships. Many schools work hard to place students intentionally and thoughtfully with a few friends, but also with new students who they may not yet know. This is all part of expanding their comfort zone, which ultimately enriches their life.
ALIVE Instructors unite with a select group of seasonal staff from the host site. At minimum, all instructors are certified in Standard First Aid/CPR. Certain instructors have specialized training for activities such as the ropes course and for water based activities. The instructor team is fun, enthusiastic and committed to helping your student experience personal growth in a caring and enriching learning environment.
Nearest hospitals are located within a 15 – 45 minute drive from most program locations depending on which site your student’s program is hosted at. Please contact us if you wish to know the location and distance to the closest hospital we will be using for your students specific program.
Preparing and Packing for Camp
Prior to the program, each students’ parents/guardian(s) will receive a paperwork package that contains a packing list outlining all of the specific items suggested for the program. We run our programs through all kinds of weather, therefore following the packing list carefully is important. We also work with schools to host parent/guardian information sessions where we further explain the required packing items for the program and answer any questions that may arise. If you have lost your list, please visit our Packing Page.
Unless included on the packing list, ALIVE programs will provide students with all of the necessary equipment required to participate in the various program activities. Personal knives from home are prohibited. We also ask that cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices are left at home during the program. At ALIVE, we challenge students to unplug and disconnect from modern-day distractions to allow for authentic connections to form.
Ideally, your student will pack in something that is easy to carry. They will have a short walk from the bus to their cabin on unpaved and/or dirt paths. For this reason, a duffle, backpack or hockey bag is best. Suitcases with wheels are not recommended as they may break being on gravel or dirt/ snowy roads.
We recommend that students use the layering system to be able to quickly adapt, add or omit layers of clothing to maintain a comfortable temperature as weather conditions and activity levels change. Wearing a base, insulating and outer layer made from synthetic or wool clothing materials, allows for students to keep heat in while keeping rain, wind, and other weather conditions out.
Food Related Questions
Although food options vary depending on the program your student is participating in, each site we work with provides a diverse set of robust options during each meal. Alongside a range of healthy and popular breakfast, lunch and dinner options, oatmeal bars, fresh fruit, soups and salads, desserts and snacks are offered in conjunction with meals throughout the day to keep students fuelled during the program.
All sites we work with are Nut-Aware and offer vegetarian, gluten-free and lactose-free options during all meals. Please list and explain all food related allergies your student has on the provided health form in the parent/guardian paperwork package. We want to work with you to ensure that your students’ dietary needs are met. If we cannot accommodate a dietary request we will contact you directly to make arrangements.
Yes. If you have a serious concern with regards to your students’ allergies or dietary needs, please be in touch with us as we will be more than happy to connect you with the appropriate food service staff at the program site.
All of the sites we work with offer a range of healthy and popular food options for students throughout the program. If your student is a picky eater and you have concerns about what food options will be available, please be in touch with us as one of our Directors would be happy to speak with you.
Sleeping and Accommodation Questions
Though the layout and design may vary slightly, all of the sites we work with provide cabins for students to stay in throughout the program. Most of the cabins have bunk beds, electricity and some even have an attached washroom with running water. Please review the specific accommodations information provided in the parent/guardian paperwork package to learn more about what your student should expect.
Yes. We recommend that all students bring a sleeping bag rated to 0 degrees celsius (or warmer) and a pillow to the program. A single fitted sheet is also helpful to make things a little more cozy. If you do not have a sleeping bag, please bring a single fitted sheet and warm blankets.
No, we do not own a site. We work with a variety of different camps from across Ontario and Canada to base our programs out of. Program sites vary depending on the group size, program theme and focus of the experience.
Many of our programs involve senior student leaders who stay in the cabins with the younger students to provide support, mentorship and supervision overnight and during their time in the cabin. In the event that senior leaders are not involved in the program, school faculty stay in cabins close by to supervise and support students as they transition through different activities throughout the day and through the night.
All of the sites we work with provide full washroom facilities either directly attached to the students cabin or located near by.
Camp Based Quinzee Overnights
A quinzee is a hybrid snow shelter that shares many of the same structural and thermal qualities that an igloo or snow cave is well known for exhibiting. Students will work together to pile a large amount of snow that will be shaped and hollowed out for sleeping in.
Building and sleeping in snow shelters, such as quinzees can be a unique, rewarding and informative activity for a group of students. Building a quinzee takes significant planning, work, and commitment. Quinzee building is an excellent winter group activity that is filled with both practical snow science, physics, and physical exercise. Sleeping overnight in the winter offers students the opportunity to connect while deepening their understanding and practices of being self-sufficient and resourceful.
A heated indoor building will always be available for students to sleep in should they become uncomfortable at night.
A sleeping bag and sleeping pad or ThermaRest is mandatory for this program. We strongly recommend that the sleeping bag has a rating of – 10 degrees, at minimum, and is not cotton. Please check your packing list for specifics.
General Wilderness Program Questions
While on a wilderness canoe trip in Algonquin or Temagami, there is a good chance of viewing one of the many species that call these places home. Whether it be moose, deer, songbirds, beavers or loons, we will all be sure to stay on the lookout for wildlife while travelling through the lakes and forests.
Throughout the trip, students will be split into groups and stay in tents as they travel to a new campsite each day. ALIVE Instructors will work with each tent group and teach them how to pick a safe and comfortable spot for the evening. Many campsites come equipped with their own designated flat tent areas.
We work hard to ensure that the food on a wilderness trip is healthy, fuelling and nutritious. Trip meals come in a range of popular options with the aim of crafting meals that are hearty and include fresh vegetables. Caloric intake, compactness and taste are all factors when menu planning. Students will take part in fire building, stove lighting, cooking and cleaning! If your student has food allergies of concern, please be in touch with us.
Yes. Spending some time splashing around in the beautiful lakes you’ll be paddling through is part of the experience. ALIVE Instructors will supervise all swimming on trip and provide clear instructions to all swimmers. PFDs and water shoes will be worn at all times. For more information on swimming while on a wilderness trip please see: https://aliveoutdoors.com/health#water
Preparing and Packing for Trip Questions
Prior to the program, each students’ parent/guardian(s) will receive a paperwork package which contains an introductory letter, FAQ and packing list outlining all of the specific packing items required for the wilderness trip. We also work with schools to host parent/guardian information sessions where we further explain the required packing items for the program and answer any questions that arise. For more information please visit: https://aliveoutdoors.com/packing
On our wilderness canoe trips, each student will need a 30L dry bag to pack all of their trip clothing, personal belongings and sleeping bag in. If you do not have your own, MEC and other outdoor stores sell 30L dry bags. Feel free to bring everything to camp in a duffle bag, and your Instructor will help you pack your dry bag. Anything that does not need to go out on canoe trip with you will be safely stored at camp for you to pick up upon your return. For more information and a few tips on how to pack for trip, please view our ALIVE Outdoors Packing Video: https://youtu.be/QiV-oInK6To
Please bring two pairs of closed toed shoes. One pair (Dry Shoes) will be kept dry and be worn in the evening. The other pair (Wet Shoes) will be worn throughout the day. Your student will be portaging, hiking and swimming in these shoes. These shoes will get muddy and wet and must have ample support. To protect your student’s feet, they will also be swimming in these shoes. Crocs, open toed Keens/ Tevas or sandals of any kind can be dangerous on trip and will not be accepted as suitable footwear for travel or swimming. Old running shoes work well.
Your student will need to bring their own sleeping bag, sleeping pad, dry bag, headlamp, clothing, rain gear and personal items on trip with them. We also encourage students to pack a book, journal/pen and playing cards if they so choose. All other trip gear will be provided for the trip. Personal knives from home are prohibited.
Yes. Each student will need to pack a sleeping bag and sleeping pad (Thermarest or foam ensolite pad) for their wilderness canoe trip. We recommend that sleeping bags are rated to 0 degrees celsius or warmer as the temperatures and weather conditions can change quickly while on trip.
A Day on Trip Questions
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Students will wake up, eat breakfast, pack up camp and make a plan for the day before paddling off into the beautiful landscape. Throughout the day, groups will work together to paddle across lakes and complete portages as a team, stopping for breaks, teachable moments and to have some fun along the way. Once arriving at their next campsite, students will get to work setting up camp for the night and dividing the group tasks such as making dinner, collecting firewood and cleaning up for the evening.
ALIVE programs are built to be flexible based on a variety of weather conditions such as lightning and thunder, high winds and extreme temperatures. However, we do ask that students prepare to be outside during rain and winter conditions. Please read the packing list carefully to best be prepared for a variety of weather conditions.
We recommend that students use the layering system to be able to quickly adapt, add or omit layers of clothing to maintain a comfortable temperature as weather conditions and activity levels change. Wearing a base, insulating and outer layer made from synthetic or wool clothing materials, NOT COTTON, allows for students to maintain their heat while keeping rain, wind and other weather conditions out.
Safety on Trip Questions
Prior to your students wilderness canoe trip, all parent/guardian(s) will receive a paperwork package outlining all necessary information for the trip, which includes our medical form. Please list and explain all allergies and medication your student will bring to the program on this form. We work hard to accommodate student’s needs. If we cannot accommodate a dietary requirement or medical condition we will contact you directly to make arrangements.
All trip groups carry a satellite phone that they can use to communicate with a Director in the case of an emergency at any point throughout the trip. An ALIVE Director is dedicated to carrying the emergency phone 24/7 while groups are in the wilderness.
Each trip group carries with them a robust first aid kit that consists of medical materials and resources catered to a wilderness trip setting. This first aid kit is carried by the ALIVE Instructor guide team and is reviewed and checked prior to heading out on trip. Students with known anaphylactic allergies are asked to bring a minimum of 2 Epi-pens with them.
Prior to heading out on a canoe trip, each group will be provided with the opportunity to view and practice a canoe over canoe rescue. This rescue technique is led by each group’s guide team and is easily achievable for all students to complete while working together.
Global Learning Programs
General Global Learning Questions
We live in a globalized world where information, problems and success are no longer isolated to country border lines. At ALIVE, our global learning programs are designed to challenge students’ assumptions, develop the tools to form honest and sustainable relationships, and celebrate the many ways to live a life. Our global program design can be implemented in students home country as well as internationally.
We believe that one’s ability to critically reflect on their world view and form authentic relationships to be critical, and often overlooked, foundational characteristics for effective community engagement. Programs themed around global problems are designed to expose students to the contradictions, criticisms, and success of service learning or development. We problematize the “hero mentality” and “travel to change the world” mantras, helping students understand why they should first engage in “learning-service” rather than “service-learning.”
Our destinations are primary chosen based on pre-established relationships that we believe to be authentic (honest, reliable, and sustainable). Once a relationship is established, we work with our partners on the ground to assess risk, program sustainability, host site community engagement and more.
We believe in fuelling relationships. To accomplish this, we return to the same destinations rather than, “jumping around” from country to country. The strength of our programs are mirrored by the strength of our host relationships and time spent in country. We are grateful for our valued friends and partners in:
– Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada
– Havana, Cuba
– Paro Valley, Thimphu, and Punakha regions, The Kingdom of Bhutan
– Nanyuki, Kenya, Africa
Yes, we are always keen to work with you to create a program that meets your learning objectives.