Camps vs Outdoor Education Centres

Camp and Outdoor Education are both a huge part of the Canadian outdoors experience, and each serve a special role in the development of our youth!


What is camp?

A summer camp is a supervised program for children and youth where the focus is on FUN – and the added benefit is the development of essential soft skills such as:

  • Independence
  • Problem solving
  • Self-confidence
  • Empathy


What is outdoor education?

Outdoor Education is learning – outside! Facilitators guide a group through outdoor experiences to meet curriculum or learning goals. This can include learning about the environment, or learning outdoor skills.

Outdoor Recreation is also offered at many Outdoor Education centres. Outdoor Recreation is not linked to curriculum; these programs are for soft-skill development like team building and communication, while having FUN!

Who goes to camp?

Everyone. No, really! People can go to camp at any age.

Plus, Ontario camps come in many forms:

  • Privately owned camps and municipal camps
  • Sports, sciences, and arts camps
  • Overnight camps and day camps
  • All gender or single gender camps
  • Religious camps
  • Intergenerational (Family) camps
  • Specialized camps
  • Special Needs camps

No matter a person’s abilities, interests, or skill level, there’s a camp designed for them. You can learn more by visiting the camp ahead of time and/or speaking to other parents to find out if it’s a good fit for your camper.

Who goes to outdoor education centres?

Outdoor education centres welcome a diverse range of participants such as school children and adults attending corporate retreats. Non-school groups are also regular participants of outdoor education centres.

Outdoor education centres can provide full-program, partial program or simply be a venue to host a conference where the group provides their own workshops and sessions.

What are the benefits of going to camp?

People of all ages benefit from going to camp! Research shows that camp helps children grow into independent and self-confident adults. Camps contribute to healthy child development. Age-appropriate activities give campers the resilience and confidence to tackle any obstacle.

A camper’s day is filled with learning, laughter, and plenty of adventures. Participants can use their newfound skills in the classroom, their extracurricular activities, and their adulthood.

After a camp experience, many campers show improvement in the areas of:

  • Communication and relationship building
  • Patience and tolerance
  • Fairness and equity
  • Resilience and grit
  • Responsibility
  • Independence
  • Leading a healthy lifestyle
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Teamwork and cooperation
  • Emotional intelligence

What are the benefits of going to an outdoor education centre?

Outdoor education centres provide education outside the classroom. Teachers can visit outdoor education centres to achieve specific curriculum outcomes or simply to help with classroom dynamics.

Participants of all ages and abilities will have an opportunity to participate in and/or develop:

  • Outdoor survival skills
  • Teamwork strategies
  • Leadership skills
  • Strategies in overcoming adversity
  • Problem solving skills
  • Group dynamics
  • Communication skills
  • Curriculum linked workshops
  • Wilderness experiences

Whether it’s a corporate team-building retreat or a traditional outdoor adventure, participants develop a deeper understanding of the natural world and the role they play within.

How do I know if a camp is OCA Accredited?

Look for our OCA Accredited logo on camp websites or take a look at our Camp and Outdoor Education Centre Directory for a complete list of Accredited Camps and Outdoor Education Centres. OCA Accredited Camps and Outdoor Education Centres follow OCA Standards.

How do I know if an outdoor education centre is OCA Accredited?

Look for our OCA Accredited logo on outdoor education centre and/or program websites or take a look at our Camp and Outdoor Education Centre Directory for a complete list of accredited outdoor education centres.