What do you get when you combine kids, summer, and Tofino? The most magical Kid’s Camps—running daily in July and August—with the fun and dedicated biologists from Raincoast Education Society. It’s free for guests aged 6-12 and it all happens steps from your suite, right here in Cox Bay.
Since 2012, Pacific Sands has partnered with Raincoast Education Society for our Summer Kid’s Camps. As parents can attest, the daily downtime they get to enjoy from 9:30am to 11:30am is effortless, complete with the peace-of-mind of a guided curriculum with two instructors. As for what the kids think, they’ll tell you it’s as entertaining as it is eye-opening.
Executive Director of Raincoast Education Society—Mark Maftei—sums it up.
“Here on the west coast of Vancouver Island, we are lucky to live in one of the most pristine and beautiful ecosystems in the world. An actual UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. A place where nature is right outside and rubber boots are often a better teaching tool than a textbook.
“One thing that always amazes us is when we get to work with kids who are seeing the ocean for the first time. We can sometimes take that for granted here in Tofino, so when kids from say the prairie provinces land here, their minds are blown just staring into a tide pool. Or we get questions like ‘how come the water is way out there’ during a low tide. Those are the moments that get everybody excited!”
From programs like Bugs + Slugs, to Animal Tracking and Whale Tales, the line-up of Kid’s Camp activities get more fun each summer, thanks to feedback from the kids.
“We see what lights kids up, what falls flat, and adjust accordingly. It’s unique, it’s drop-in, and it’s interactive. Kids can run around, hang out together, get their hands dirty, and learn about creatures in and under the sand. We also provide important perspective on our local history, First Nations, and how everyone plays a role in responsibly shaping the future for our planet.”
Raincoast Field School Program
While we love being able to provide our young guests with outdoor education during their summer stay, Pacific Sands also supports the Raincoast Field School program which educates local students at 4 schools in Tofino, Ucluelet, and Ahousaht. In fact, every single student from kindergarten through grade 7 gets to participate in at least one field trip per month during the school year—that’s over 200 Field School trips per year!
Proudly calling it the Society’s ‘crown jewel’ of youth education, Mark goes on to passionately describe Raincoast Field School.
“Most students in Canada learn about nature and the environment in a classroom. Raincoast Field School takes science out of the classroom and into the forest, the ocean, the beach, or the bog; places where students can touch and feel and listen and learn, right in their own backyard.
“We have 2 full-time instructors collaborating year-round with teachers, designing lessons around the provincial curriculum. Ultimately, the teachers have a lot of latitude to get creative on what’s covered, and then the instructors incorporate it into a unique activity or lesson plan. The kids have a blast!”
The Ripple Effect
Mark worked for universities and government agencies in both Canada and the US before joining the Raincoast Education Society.
“It’s so gratifying to see the fruits of our labours with kids learning and expanding. When I worked as a biologist with the government, it was rewarding to do the research and publish it, but the end result was typically lost. Here, we really see the impact of what we do. I’ll be out surfing and hear local kids telling their parents about their field trip, or I’ll run into high school students we took on a field trip years ago that still remember their experience.
“And then there are new kids coming to Tofino from all over the world that we get to educate through programs like the Summer Kid’s Camps at Pacific Sands. It’s all about inspiring youth to get outside and become actively engaged in building a sustainable future.”
More on the Raincoast Education Society
Given everything about Tofino and Ucluelet’s rainforest ecosystem involves conservation efforts—from protecting shorelines and wildlife to sustainable living—if it’s something environmental education oriented, the Raincoast Education Society is involved. Read more about the Society’s current research and monitoring projects along with how you can donate to this charity, non-profit organization, which is run entirely by community-based fundraising and business support.