The Y’s Outdoor Centre, home of Camp Thunderbird, provides essential opportunities for young people to challenge themselves, build confidence and connect with others. Campers improve their social skills and self-awareness as they take a break from technology immersed in a natural environment.

Since 1935, we have helped build healthy communities by leading and sharing traditional outdoor and wilderness experiences with children and youth aged 5-17 years. Through school groups and summer camps, thousands of kids have developed into who they are as a result of their time here, with many of them now among our local community leaders.

Camp Thunderbird is about fresh air, clean water, amazing people, and low-tech, physical play!

As a charity, we rely on additional funding for Camp Thunderbird to ensure we can deliver programming that maximizes the benefit to all of our campers and their families.

Camp fees alone do not generate enough revenue to cover the staffing and operational expenses that make Camp Thunderbird such a transformational time in the lives of young people. The Y is determined to ensure children from various economic backgrounds and abilities have access to our programs. This includes subsidizing the costs of attendance at Camp Thunderbird to keep fees affordable for all camper families.

Your donation helps make the camp experience possible and accessible to as many families as we can.

A Camp Thunderbird Story

My son recently turned 13 and is now in grade seven. He has gone to the Y’s Camp Thunderbird for the last two summers and has significant learning disabilities. His dyslexia impacts everything he tries to do. From grades 4-6, he experienced severe bullying and was called stupid and dumb. He hated school.

During this time his father and I divorced. His dad was homeless, and I was back to work and trying to support a family after being a stay at home mom for 10 years. With all this happening, along with the death of his four year old cousin, my son became very sad. It was very difficult to watch. He missed his dad, I was working all the time, and I was grieving and tired too. As a single mom, I can’t tell you how grateful I am to the YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island.

Through the Y’s Strong Kids Campaign, we received Financial Assistance the first summer to make Camp Thunderbird possible. My son went with one of his classmates and spent a week at camp. When I picked him up, he had more joy then I have ever seen. His counsellors described him as a generous, kind person who was a leader on the hikes and kayaks. He loved camp! He also built a bond with his classmate and now had an ally at school. At Camp Thunderbird, he felt as though he counted and was valued.  His brother is also dyslexic and struggles at school, and I cannot wait to have him attend Camp Thunderbird and feel the same joy in such a safe place, because that is truly what Camp Thunderbird is. It is a place where ALL children can be kids, get dirty, laugh and feel loved. It is a place where children are challenged and supported, and where they come to realize they are capable and good.

The memories and impacts of camp last a lifetime

The Y’s Camp Thunderbird is a local institution on Vancouver Island, offering a structured outdoor experience in nature and developing young leaders since 1935.  We regularly hear from parents how Camp Thunderbird has transformed their children with opportunities to challenge themselves, build confidence, connect with others, appreciate the natural environment, and unplug from technology. 

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