what parents report about what the kids report

In 2017, we asked parents to report on what they valued, and also what their kids reported.

Fresh air. Adult mentorship. Strong support for wild interactions. Learning about plants. Getting feet wet in the river. Playing games outdoors. Yelling. Climbing. Peeing in the woods. Making tea. Lighting fires. Carving. Reverence for the ideas of others in a sharing circle.


He likes the measure of autonomy he gets, to choose what he wants to participate in and how. He likes being allowed to explore nature, climb trees, swim in the river, being trusted with knives and fire. He especially likes learning about and collecting edible plants. I think he also likes having adults who really listen to him and his ideas. He has always looked forward to going to GOS, which is such welcome difference from the anxiety and dread that he used to feel about most other things.

Adventure, learning about plants and animals - his eyes are always alive and vibrant when we come to pick him up. He loves it.



She loves being outside in nature. She says that's where she is happiest. That's what I see. It is her favourite activity of the week. When I bring her there, she is keen and excited to go, when I pick her up, she is happy, energized, balanced. She loves being outside, being connected to the earth and learning about nature, she loves the kind, caring, thoughtful teachers, she loves being part of something that has been with her since Kindergarten. It's like an essential piece of her life now. She's in Grade 1. ;)



He says, ‘just being there’.
Our family's connection with nature was deepened because of Kaleb's time at G.O.S., and we continue to enjoy and grow together during our own time in nature. Kaleb is proud to share his knowledge and skills, tracking, animals, survival skills (building a fire), etc... and he is able to articulate his own perspective that reflects his relationship with nature that continues to grow and broaden with his continued experiences with G.O.S. Kaleb enjoys all of the mentors and peers at G.O.S. and he feel a deep connection and sense of well being because of the special relationships that are nurtured by the mentors. I firmly believe that Kaleb's ability to manage in many areas of his life, for example, his academic school week, are directly linked to his time at GOS - it feeds the whole child, and the child's whole family. G.O.S. is community.

what parents get out of it

We asked parents to consider what is important to them about GOS, as distinct from what was important to their kids.  Some were able to, some not - just stoked for their kids :)



Relief that the kids finally had good connections and strong friendships; appreciation for them having non-parental positive adult role models; gratitude that the kids are gaining nature awareness and outdoor skill.
Relief that he found somewhere he felt he belonged, no stress that he can't cope as is the case often at school, I can actually focus at work while he's at outdoor school as I know he's in good hands, is learning and having fun!



I love that my son is treated like a person, and not a problem. I have peace of mind that he will feel safe and comfortable, and that if he does have any incidents or outbursts they will be handled calmly and respectfully. I am so glad that my kids have developed a love of the outdoors, and can spend the entire day outdoors, regardless of the weather, and love it. I love that my kids look forward to GOS with excitement, and come home from GOS happy and energized. I believe that the safe, nurturing space at GOS and the freedom to explore, listen and be listened to has given both of my kids self-confidence, and has helped my son to come out of his shell and develop better social skills.



In the complicated world of education for special needs children, if you ever have the chance to have your child interact with The Guelph Outdoor School, I strongly recommend it. My son attended at a most delicate time in his young years, Fridays from September to June. There is no doubt that the unconditional acceptance by Chris, his family, and his colleagues, coupled with the uniquely tranquil but inspiring outdoor program, made Fridays the highlight of the week for my son.

Never underestimate the value of just one extra special understanding and caring adult in the lives of extra special children. And here you will find more.


What Parents Share With Other Parents

Expect your child to feel safe, appreciated and included. A place where everyones learning style is celebrated and nurtured.



I often recommend G.O.S. to others.

I tell them that it is a space where your kid can enjoy the relative freedom that we enjoyed as kids, but someone is always keeping an eye out to guide them when they need it.

I say it is an incredible experience for them and that every child I have recommended it to has gone and equally adored it!





The GOS provides an outdoor alternative to mainstream school, an opportunity to learn skills and develop a sense of community and responsibility for the natural world in an environment not found anywhere else. A chance to build deep friendships and benefit from the guidance of mentors who teach life lessons in a way that happens organically and will stick with kids their whole lives

I tell other parents you are magical. And I describe exactly what you see when you arrive- the forest, the campfire, the peacefulness.