Project Canoe

Project Canoe is a Toronto-based program that brings youth who are facing social, emotional, behavioural, systemic and/or financial barriers on canoe trips in the stunning wilderness of Algonquin Park, Ontario, during the summer. The program is for youth ages 13-18 who would like the opportunity to get out and experience a wilderness adventure in a safe and positive environment.

A Day on Canoe Trip

  1. After waking up, we will pack up our campsite (e.g., tents, clothes, gear) and have breakfast. 
  2. We will load up the canoes with our gear, put on sunscreen and our PFDs and start paddling on the lake. 
  3. We will do multiple portages each day. Portages are the stretch of land between two lakes where we carry all of the gear we brought with us. They will vary in length and terrain, but we will take our time and work as a team to get across them. 
  4. At the end of a portage, we will load the canoes with our gear once again and start to paddle towards our campsite. 
  5. Once arriving at the campsite, we will unload our canoes, and set up our tents! 
  6. We will then have time to play games, swim, and explore our campsite before cooking dinner. 
  7. We will build a fire as a team, and start preparing dinner.
  8. After dinner, have more time to play games, enjoy the sunset and stars, and then will head to bed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We believe that every youth should be able to participate, regardless of financial resources. While we have a $100/day fee associated with our trips, we operate it as a sliding scale where families are able to choose what amount, if any, they are able to pay. Having this fee allows us to access various funding opportunities, and allows families who are able to pay to contribute toward the costs of the trip as they are able. There is no difference in experience or priority for anyone who does choose to pay. Information about payment amounts is limited to our administrative team; the canoe trip leaders are not informed of payments or amounts. The large majority of our participants do not pay anything to go on trip, and almost none pay the full amount. Project Canoe is a registered charity and we can issue a tax receipt for any other amounts contributed beyond the trip fee. If a referring organisation is able to contribute some portion of the trip fee for the youth they are referring we would greatly appreciate it. We will never turn a youth away from a trip or a program due to financial barriers.

Our food is all vegetarian and mostly vegan. We are able to make alterations to our menu for any dietary restrictions or allergies. Our breakfasts consist of different cereals and oatmeal, our snacks include granola bars, fruit, trail mix, and cookies, our lunches consist of a type of sandwich (e.g. bagel and cream cheese, tortilla with hummus and cucumbers), and our dinners mainly include a type of pasta or rice and a plant protein source (e.g. beans). We also bring marshmallows and cookies for dessert!

Project Canoe brings together a dedicated group of trip leaders eager and ready to contribute their diverse leadership styles to a successful summer. Trip leaders go through a 4-week training program during which they are taught all the skills required to safely lead canoe trips and support our youth through challenges that could arise. They are certified in Advanced Wilderness First Aid, Bronze Medallion/Cross, and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention. Additionally, we spend time developing skills in conflict resolution, restorative justice practices, cultural competence, team & community building, and backcountry camping. All of our trip leaders are at least 19 years of age and are required to provide a satisfactory police vulnerable sector check. Many are post-secondary students or recent graduates, some are even past youth who have participated in Project Canoe trips before.

No, parents are not able to go on the canoe trips. We have a 2:1 participant: staff ratio and must keep all participant spaces open for youth who want to go on trip with us.

We offer all-gender, all-boys, and all-girls trip grouping options. When filling out a youth’s
registration, there is a form where they can choose which grouping option they would be
most comfortable in. Please note that not all grouping options are available for all dates.

In the rare case of an emergency, we have policies and procedures to help us manage the situation. All of our trips are in Algonquin Provincial Park which consists of a backcountry canoeing system where there is not always immediate access to outside help. To get back to an access point, the group needs to paddle and portage to get there, which can sometimes take multiple days. This means that we can only send a participant home early in exceptional circumstances. Our trip leaders are trained in Advanced Wilderness First Aid and we carry well stocked first aid kits so we are able to manage most injuries in the field and continue on. We also carry a satellite messaging device that can contact outside help in a life-threatening emergency.

No, we are not able to regularly communicate with the trip groups. The only form of communication we have with the trip groups is a satellite messenger device that is used in emergency situations.

Once the trip has left then there is no easy way for someone to leave the trip early. There are no roads or other easy ways to access transportation. We are only able to send participants home in emergency situations when they are no longer able to continue on trip.

In addition to our summer canoe trips, we run day programs in Toronto for youth who want to try out canoeing but are not quite ready to do an overnight trip. We also run programs year-round including our Youth Advisory Council and fall/winter Outdoor Club outings. Check out our website for more information.

We do not provide certifications or completion records for our trips. Our trips do not count towards a high school credit.