Outdoor and Environmental Education

Durham District School Board (DDSB) encourages learning both inside and outside of the classroom. Outdoor and Environmental Education programs promote environmental responsibility by providing experiential learning in the natural environment.

Outdoor education centres

DDSB offers day and night curriculum connected to outdoor learning at 3 educational centres in Durham Region.

Duffins Creek Environmental Education Centre

Duffins Creek Environmental Education Centre offers interactive programs for classes in Grades 2 to 8. We explore nature through interpretive hikes on a number of trails. We also have live animals and natural artifacts that students can explore.

Visit Duffins Creek

For more information on Duffins Creek, email the facilitator [content note: Michael Morandin michael.morandin@ddsb.ca] or call 905-649-1770. Duffins Creek is located at 2500 Concession Rd 7 in Pickering, ON.

Nonquon Environmental Education Centre

Nonquon Environmental Education Centre is a day-use facility located in a natural wetland. We offer programs to students from Grades 2 to 12. Students that visit the centre can view and sometimes touch the many live animals we have, including frogs, salamanders, snakes and turtles.

Visit Nonquon

To book a class trip to Nonquon, email the facilitator [content note: Peter Johnson peter.johnson@ddsb.ca or Sarah Jeynes sarah.jeynes@ddsb.ca] or call 905-985-2612. Nonquon is located at 1710 Scugog Line 10 in Greenbank, ON.

Information for parents

If your child is attending a field trip at Nonquon wetland, please read our packing list and additional information resource to help prepare for the trip.

Durham Forest Environmental Education Centre

The Durham Forest Environmental Education Centre offers Grade 6 classes daytime and overnight camp experiences. The forest has a variety of hiking trails and hands on activities for students to explore.

Visit Durham Forest

To book a class trip to Durham Forest, email the facilitator [content note: Dennis Sallans dennis.sallans@ddsb.ca] or call 905-852-3030. Durham Forest is located at 3821 Concession Rd. 7, Goodwood, ON.

Information for parents

If your child is taking a class trip to Durham Forest, review our packing list to help prepare.

Food services

If your child has food allergies or has special dietary needs, please contact our cook at 905-852-3030. We take pride in cooking nutritious meals and snacks.

A typical breakfast consists of cereal, bagels and pancakes. Lunches may consist of soups, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken burgers and subs.

For dinner we serve chicken, lasagna, and spaghetti and meatballs.

Forms

Read, complete and return all health, medication and permission forms sent home with your child. This will help us take care of all your child's needs while they are away from home.

Litterless lunches

We encourage you to send your child with a litterless lunch. This promotes environmental sustainability. Try using reusable or recyclable packaging, such as, reusable containers and water bottles, glass containers and recyclable drink boxes, plastics and cardboard.

Living Lightly Program

We are committed to promoting environmental responsibility. We will give your child “free time” periods so they can complete a community task.

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy is a natural plant that grows in and around Durham Forest. We try to remove the plant from high traffic areas, but it does thrive in some spots. We will teach your child what Poison Ivy looks like and how to avoid it.

Facilities

Environmental staff and the facilities create a fun and friendly atmosphere, which makes a memorable experience for the kids.

Dorms

Students will stay in dormitory-style accommodations. There is 1 bunk room for the girls and 1 bunk room for the boys. Teachers stay in modest private rooms and supervise the student dorms. Everyone shares a central common room. The common room has books, games and puzzles.

The Cook House

The Cook House has a large kid-friendly kitchen and dining room. Students will be responsible for setting the table and cleaning up after each meal. Attached to the Cook House is a mudroom that has lots of athletic equipment and gear.

The Outdoor Inn

The Outdoor Inn contains a classroom for indoor programs. There is a variety of natural history artifacts for you to explore.

Outdoor facilities

Our site has many fun activities to explore outside, including:

  • A campfire and seating area
  • Ropes course
  • Large sports field
  • Vegetable and native flower gardens
  • A pond
  • A tipi
  • 100 kilometers of hiking trails

Community use

Durham Forest Environmental Centre is available for not-for-profit groups to rent on weekends during the school year. We can accommodate up to 40 people. For details on fees, program options, and booking, please call 905-666-6310.

Cooperative education

High school students can complete the cooperative education program at any of our 3 outdoor education centres. Talk with your co-op teacher for program details. Duties may include, assisting students and teachers with program activities, animal care, trail maintenance, equipment organization and more. You will need your own vehicle as there is no public transit to these sites.

University Co-ops

Durham Forest Environmental Education Centre has 3 instructor positions available. There are 3 co-op terms each year. The DDSB will be your employer and you will live on site during your co-op placement. We will provide you with room and board. Co-op duties and responsibilities include:

  • Teaching Ontario curriculum-based programming to grade 6 students both in class and outdoors
  • Supervising student meals
  • Leading a night hike program
  • Setting up, taking down and maintaining program materials
  • Organizing and supervising student clean up
  • Property maintenance
  • Weekend user group direction

Teaching placements

If you are in Teacher's College, you can do a practical placement at one of the 3 DDSB Outdoor Education Centres. Contact your program coordinator to request a placement. You will need your own vehicle as there is no public transit to these sites.