To promote and enable outdoor education and activity

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About Us

Our Vision

Every Canadian will have access to outdoor education

and activity

Our Mission

To promote and enable accessibility to outdoor education and activity for every Canadian.

Our Members

Are people like you: Anyone who shares our vision is invited to join us as a 'Member'. You will help support the health and positive development of outdoor activities and education.

Are organizations like yours
: Your organization can join as an 'Associate Member' and help build our industry.

National Outdoor Initiative Directory | Member Directory

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Outdoor Council of Canada?

The Outdoor Council of Canada (OCC) is a nationally incorporated, non-profit, member-owned organization.  The OCC has been founded to encourage, promote, and facilitate safety-oriented outdoor education and recreation programs, along with leadership opportunities, which are accessible to every Canadian.

What is the purpose of the Outdoor Council of Canada?

The purpose of the Outdoor Council of Canada (OCC) is to ensure that the long-standing Canadian tradition of connection with, and involvement in, the natural world is maintained and nurtured in practical and accessible ways. The decline of Canadian's involvement in outdoor activities is a cause for concern since:

  • Experiential education in natural environment's provides unique and valuable learning opportunities.

  • Connection with the natural world and the understanding of our impact, and dependence upon the outdoors has decreased.

  • Low physical activity levels of individuals results in increased absenteeism from work, lowered productivity rates, and an increased strain on the Health Care system due to wellness costs.

  • And, the use of our National Park system, and support for our natural heritage, has deteriorated.

How does the Outdoor Council of Canada Fulfil its Mission?  

The Outdoor Council of Canada (OCC) will:

  1. Create a National Certification system for outdoor leaders. This system will provide the following characteristics:

  1. It will be ‘stepped’ in levels from the lowest entry to expert levels.

  1. Individual certifications will be matched to specific terrain and activity classifications so that there is clear understanding of who is qualified to lead what activities and where.

  1. Training will be affordable, accessible, and appropriate. This permits individuals who already possess a considerable skill base, such as teachers, to use their existing skills in the outdoor environment.

  1. Training itself will be provided by other organizations as ‘approved providers’.

  1. There will be a National Registrar of members that outlines their demonstrated competencies. This will be a key resource for members to establish their credentials, and for risk manager's to streamline their work. It will also promote labour mobility and assist in career development.

  1. Develop risk management resources for organizations who seek to provide educational or recreational experiences in outdoor settings. These resources will be matched to the training and terrain/activity classification systems as to:

  1. Reduce the administrative load on providers, and thus, reduce costs.

  1. Permit higher levels of safety, and thus, improve the public user's confidence.

  1. Establish clear standards for acceptable levels of care.

  1. Advocate for outdoor activity and education. This advocacy will rely on the best available evidence, and target to further the public interest in the natural world.

  1. Encourage research in any area which furthers the understanding of issues and opportunities in the realm of outdoor education and activity. The OCC considers this essential because all of its initiatives are ‘evidence based’ in their motivation, conception, and execution.

Why is there a need for an organization such as the Outdoor Council of Canada?

  1. There is an extreme shortage of leaders and educators who are trained and qualified to lead beginner and intermediate level outdoor activities. Also, the number of these leaders is declining rapidly.

  1. There are increasing expectations for the safety of minors in the care of others (custodial leadership), and yet there are few recognized standards which enable risk managers to determine if people are qualified to lead a particular activity. A considerable amount of management resources are wasted to ascertain leadership suitability. Many of the activities that could be offered safely and inexpensively, with a well-organized infrastructure in place, are not considered because of the difficulties and expenses associated with the assurance of due diligence.

  1. Land managers are concerned about liability exposure, and are restricted in their ability to make public lands available to many groups. The lack of an organized infrastructure makes it very difficult to objectively distinguish between safe and unsafe practices, and between qualified and unqualified leaders. Considerable amounts of publicly funded administration efforts are wasted to address these issues, and many opportunities are lost. Regulations on Crown lands proliferates in the absence of a more rational and efficient process.

  1. An increased number of parents do not have the ability to introduce their children to meaningful outdoor experiences. This is an alarming trend because most people who are active in the outdoors throughout their lives report that their friends and families are the number one reasons why they became active.

  1. The K-12 education system, and other youth oriented organizations, that have provided the initial introduction and training for young people are no longer doing so for a number of reasons.  These reasons include:

  • Many administrators do not know how to deliver programs effectively, efficiently, and safely.

  • Most of today’s teachers did not receive the required training in their pre-service education.

  • Many risk managers hold the false perception that outdoor activity is more dangerous than other sporting activities. There is strong evidence that well managed activities, such as hiking and cross country skiing, are much safer than many traditional school based sports.

  • The outdoor training available tends to be tailored to the high-end guiding industry. This makes training and certification opportunities too expensive and not appropriate for the needs of custodial leaders.

  • Risk managers increasing standards for risk management, and intensified competition for access to the backcountry, result in a progressive restriction of organized groups that provide outdoor learning and recreation.

  • The individual organization's within the entire sector of the outdoor community are often financially weak and administratively overloaded. These organization's simply do not have the resources as separate organizations to create the widespread initiatives required to address the aforementioned issues.

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