What we're about


All three courses in OELP are integrated with an environmental theme.  Students examine local and global environmental issues and develop a personal environmental ethic.  Later, they work to become responsible global citizens by taking ownership in local environmental projects at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre.


OELP is experiential and leadership-focused by nature.  All students enrolled in the program have an opportunity to experience leading the group while in the classroom, in the community, and on multi-day adventure trips. 


Students are encouraged to become critical, conscientious participants and leaders in the school, community and society.  They learn to critically analyse media and cultural frameworks, and express their thoughts in reflective pieces that document their personal journeys over the semester. 


Students in OELP spend three periods each day together, giving them time to cultivate a bond not often seen in a traditional rotary environment.  There are numerous opportunities during the semester for students to expand this bond to the greater comunity, in the form of volunteer projects and cooperative experiences.


As a part of a culturally unique region with an important geographical and anthropological history, students are engaged in activities designed to promote cultural awareness and appreciation.  Most students in OELP choose to receive the "English: Contemporary Aboriginal Voices" credit, in either the University or College pathway.  This is also a compulsory English credit, which is a Ministry-approved substitution for the Grade 11 compulsory English credit.


Numerous experiential certifications are included in the package.  These may include:

  • Standard First Aid
  • CPR Level A
  • AED Training
  • GPS Training
  • Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association (ORCKA) Flatwater Canoeing
  • Duke of Edinburgh's Award
  • Leave No Trace Awareness 


Why take OELP?

-to learn about local and global environmental issues

-to build positive relationships with peers and with the community

-to experience personal challenges on adventure trips

-to develop leadership skills by joining the Wye Marsh to complete stewardship projects and offer environmental education programs


Do I need a lot of equipment?

You will be required to provide the items from the list below.  Any additional items you probably already have already (e.g. a wool or fleece sweater), can borrow from others, or in some cases, can sign out from the OELP equipment room.  OELP supplies equipment such as snowshoes, sleeping bags, tents and canoe paddles, and has a growing selection of outdoor clothing as well.

Essential Personal Equipment

  • winter boots, running shoes
  • winter jacket, hats and mitts
  • FUNCTIONAL rain jacket and rain pants
  • whistle
  • long underwear / warm layer (top and bottom - avoid cotton)

What pathway do I need to be in to apply?

One purpose of OELP is to integrate students with different interests, ideas and future plans.  This means that students in both the University and College pathways are encouraged to apply.

Will I be behind in school?

Think of OELP as a "non-traditional" environment.  The three OELP courses are all Ontario Ministry of Education-approved credits that are taught in high schools across Ontario.  The difference is the format of learning; OELP combines these three courses by integrating curriculum, allowing the program to be more flexible throughout the day.  For most of the day, the group of OELP students spread their time between the classroom, the outdoors, and the community.  Students will travel by bus to the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre on cooperative education days, leaving after or coming back in time for their non-OELP class.  As students do have one non-OELP course which they will miss while away on multi-day field trips, they will need to catch up on any missed work over the semester.  Some class time will be allotted for this as it is required. The difference is that you won't have a tight schedule of 75 minute periods, each period related to a different course and completely different way of thinking.  Rather, all courses will be linked with an environmental theme.  All courses meet the same requirements as conventional school credits.

Is this a course for "jocks" or "tree-huggers"?

No way! OELP attracts all kind of students, with different interests, ideas and future plans.  Students may wish to apply because they love the outdoors, because they're interested in teaching Elementary school students, because they want a "non-traditional" setting, or because they're interested in the environment.  The objectives and curriculum of the program touch on many different interests and careers.  The course does have an emphasis on healthy living; students will be required to spend lots of time outside, in all kinds of weather conditions, and will be required to pass a swim test in order to complete the ORCKA Flatwater Canoeing certification.  Smoking will not be allowed at any point during the program, including on field trips.

What is the cost of the program?

No student will be denied the opportunity to take OELP due to financial reasons.  There is a "consumables fee" for the semester which will be a maximum of $150.00.  This covers food and any course materials students are receiving for certifications.  Please let us know if this is a concern - we want you to apply!

When do I apply?

Students apply to OELP during the second semester of their Grade 10 year.  Listen to the announcements and check out this website often to receive more information as the date approaches.

Who is the instructor, and what are his/her qualifications?

On a day-to-day basis, OELP will be delivered by two teachers.  In addition, a variety of other instructors, speakers and chaperones will be involved in the program throughout the semester, especially during the cooperative education component.

Kristin Giles (Brooks), founder of the program, has teaching certifications in English, Environmental Science and Cooperative Education, with degrees in English and Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, including a specialization in Leadership.  She is a Flatwater Instructor and has Canoe Trip Leading certifications with the Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association (ORCKA).  She has her Wilderness First Responder certification, and is a Health Care Provider First Aid and CPR Instructor, as well as a WHMIS Instructor.  She has extensive wilderness experience, having guided canoeing and kayaking trips in numerous backcountry location across North America.  In addition, she has instructed hiking, canoeing and wilderness skills for Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  She has been facilitating OELP since 2009.

What safety precautions are taken on the multi-day adventure trips?

To review a copy of the program's risk management plan, feel free to contact the school at 705-322-2201.