Leadership Development

For campers who completed grades 9 & 10.

Program Goals and Learning Outcomes

Camp Thunderbird’s Leadership Development (LD) Program gives youth an opportunity to develop outdoor adventure skills in a supportive and safety-oriented environment. Learning outcomes include self-discovery, group dynamics and management, working with children, and technical skills for successful wilderness travel… all key ingredients in developing well-rounded outdoor leaders. We do this through in-person practice supported by highly trained and experienced Y staff. Campers face experiential challenges together, work through these with their peers, and are encouraged to think about how their actions affect others. Counsellors help the group find solutions using democratic and/or consensus-based decision-making tools to work toward outcomes that benefit every member. Through deliberate practice of the Y core values of honesty, respect, caring, responsibility, and inclusiveness, this program supports youth by building interpersonal skills, greater empathy, confidence, and resilience for their future challenges. It is often referred to as “life-changing”.

Leadership Development counsellors introduce LD campers to skills for leading groups of children, and LD campers are given the opportunity to put those ideas into practice. They will shadow some camp counsellors and help lead a group of younger children, with the supervision and support from fully qualified camp staff. Working directly with children and then reflecting on that experience with peers and mentor counsellors has proven to be a highly valuable element of our Leadership Development programs.

LD Base Camp

In this 5-day program, campers participate in outdoor skill activities at camp, such as canoeing, climbing, hiking, orienteering and archery, while being introduced to the skills needed to lead and teach these activities. Campers will shadow a counsellor leading a younger group, and participate and a day-long hike on camp property. Campers sleep in cabins at camp each night.

LD Quest

In Camp Phase

Before the expedition, LD staff will facilitate group cohesion through guided teambuilding and discussion. Then participants will work together to plan and pack for their expedition. On return, facilitated expedition reflection and debriefing is led by LD staff.

Expedition Phase

While on their backcountry expedition, participants will be learning navigation, weather interpretation, camping and the other skills required for safe, self-supported backcountry travel. Counsellors and guides provide instruction, support and a “safety net” while the campers take turns being “leader of the day”, and work together to set a pace, navigate, and practice minimal trace wilderness travel/camping. The counsellors also guide discussions related to group management and care of children, to prepare participants for their time as apprentice leaders in camp programs.

These trips will be physically and mentally demanding. Each day varies and participants should be prepared for up to 10-hour days on the trail or in the boat and temperatures that could dip to single digits with heavy precipitation.

12 Day LD Quest

Campers spend 7 days in camp and 5 days on expedition.

LD Hike expeditions are an opportunity to experience Vancouver Island’s premier alpine hiking area in Strathcona Park. The expedition starts and ends at the Paradise Meadows trailhead and campers will hike towards Mt Albert Edward. With gorgeous mountain views, mysterious alpine lakes, and mountain birds alighting on an outreached hand, this park is truly special. Whether a summit attempt is made will depend on an on-the-ground safety assessment considering conditions, weather and the capacity of the group.

LD Canoe expeditions travel to the Sayward Forest and navigate the Sayward Canoe Route featuring Mohun, Amor, Brewster, Fry and Cambell lakes. Campers will enjoy paddling on calm waters and sleeping at campsites only accessible by boat, making for a special experience in the outdoors. This canoe trip will have some land portions where they will hike with a backpack, and portage the canoe along trails.

19 Day LD Quest

Campers spend 10 days in camp and 9 days on expedition.

LD Kayak expeditions will take place in the Broughton Archipelago Islands on Vancouver Island’s Northern tip. The stunning beauty and wild environment make this area an internationally renowned wilderness destination. Campers will wind their way through many small island groups overflowing with rainforest vegetation and cross channels teaming with sea life, small and large. Campsites that feel like they are on the edge of the world.

Leadership Development as a path to becoming a camp counsellor.

The LD program provides participants with transferrable skills for working with children and in the outdoors. Many of our Camp Thunderbird counsellors spent two consecutive summers as LD campers, followed by one summer as a volunteer Program Assistant. This is our recommended path for joining the staff team. Whether participants choose 5-, 12-, or 19-day programs, they will be building the skills and experience that sets them on this path.



Wednesday February 21, 2024 @12noon


Wednesday February 28, 2024 @12noon

Returning Camper Information Click Here


Please ensure you select the correct expedition type and dates for the program that you wish your camper to participate in. We cannot guarantee space should an error in selection occur.

Program Date Fee
19 Day Kayak – All Gender Cabin July 8-26, 2024 $4013 register
5 Day Base – All Gender Cabin July 15-19, 2024 $821 register
12 Day Canoe – All Gender Cabin Aug 5-16, 2024 $2390 Register
5 Day Base – All Gender Cabin Aug 12-16, 2024 $821 Register
12 Day Hike- All Gender Cabin Aug 19-30, 2024 $2390 register

Transportation Information

Registration in overnight camp DOES NOT include bus transportation you must register separately for a To Camp and From Camp bus. Campers can be driven by car by a parent or guardian or registered for bus transportation from the the Downtown Y or the Westhills Y.


Camper Drop Off Time

Times listed below are bus departure times, and buses do not wait for late participants. PLEASE ARRIVE 15 MINUTES EARLY to allow for health screening and bus loading. Guardians need to stay until the bus departs.

Camp Program Driven by Car to Camp By Bus from the Downtown Y By Bus from the Westhills Y
All Camps 9:00am 8:00am 8:30am

Camper Pick Up Time

Traffic on Fridays can be especially heavy please give yourself ample time to arrive. Late parent/guardian arrival further delays our bus service.Westhills: Bus arrives between 4:20-4:30 and continues downtown at 4:30 sharp. Children not picked up by 4:30 will remain on the bus and travel downtown.

Camp Program Driven by Car at Camp By Bus to the Downtown Y By Bus to the Westhills Y
Day Camp 3:45pm 5:15pm 4:20-4:30pm
Overnight Camp 2:30pm 5:15pm 4:20-4:30pm



The YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island is a charity dedicated to building healthy communities and will subsequently be referred to as “YMCA-YWCA”.

YMCA-YWCA  Registration Policy

The customer agrees that by completing registration and making payment into a single activity or multiple activities with the YMCA-YWCA that they immediately become subject to the activity or program specific cancellation and refund policy.

Camp Cancellation and Refund Policy

Cancellations must be received 30 days before the start of the camp session to be cancelled. All cancellations are subject to a 25% administration fee of the total camp cost including future payments.  If less than 30 days notice is received, fees are non-refundable.  All requests must be submitted by email to registration@vancouverislandy.ca. This includes all non-medical refund requests including but not limited to those due to camp space being unavailable for friends, siblings, and/or due to other summer opportunities becoming available outside of Camp Thunderbird programs.  The YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island follows all Public Health Officer orders.

Medical cancellations will qualify for a refund of the unused portion of the program, less a $50 administration fee. In some cases, a doctor’s note will be required, at the discretion of the Camp Managers.

No refunds will be issued in instances where a camper is removed during a camp program at the choice or request of the camper or camper’s parent(s)/guardian(s) or is dismissed from camp for contravention of the camp commitment.


2024 Information Booklet coming soon. See below for 2023 information.

LD - 2023


Communicable Disease Plan 2024

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