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


“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 has always looked forward to going to GOS, which is such a welcome difference from the anxiety and dread that he used to feel about most other things.” 


“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.”

“I ask him what he enjoys about his days at Guelph Outdoor School. He says, “just being there.”


“It feeds the whole child and the child's whole family. G.O.S. is community.”

Our family's connection with nature was deepened because of Kaleb's time at G.O.S. 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 G.O.S.”


“My girl loves the mystery. She loves to speculate on the clues, track, and sign that fill her days.

She tells me about the porcupines up in the hemlock trees, and wonders when they come down. She tells me about 2 sets of deer tracks, a mama & a baby, and wonders when they came through. Her mind is alive with the mystery of it, i am proud of this side of her. I see that she is recognizing patterns and thinking critically, and that she feels deeply for the lives of wild animals and their home.”

Testimonials are from a 2017 survey and feedback e-mails from caregivers and organizations.


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 :)



He found somewhere he feels he belongs.

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.

Success Stories from Parents


Riley's first experience with the outdoor school was in grade 2, He was chosen for a scholarship given to our school by The Guelph Outdoor School. He was chosen because he was struggling in the classroom setting and they thought this would be a good opportunity for him to get out and be himself. This ended up being a life changing experience for Riley. We've continued his enrollment with the Guelph Outdoor School with the Saturday program and will continue for days to come. Riley was having some self confidence issues, and with a recent ADHD diagnosis it's been a total boost for him, being in the woods for unstructured outdoors time really lets him be wild and free. Doing new things like climbing big trees, tracking animals, making tea from plants and helping build fires have shown him that he really can do anything that he puts his mind to and he's proud to share this knowledge with anyone who will listen. Being a single mother, having a positive male role models in his life to show him how to do cool stuff like carving sticks or making things from wood and using tools has been very beneficial to him. His self confidence at school has skyrocketed, his problem solving skills have improved and he's had his best year at school yet (with help from his teacher who is also a outdoor school instructor). - Brandy Cole, Riley's Mom.