Leadership Development

For campers who completed grades 9 & 10 in June 2022.

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”. Prior to the start of the program, each camper will participate in an interview with camp staff, to assess fit and readiness for the LD program.

Expedition Phase

Expeditions will take place in either the Broughton Archipelago (LD Kayak) or the North Coast Trail (LD Hike).  These are areas on and around Vancouver Island’s Northern tip and are optimal due to their stunning beauty and wild environment. Hikers will enjoy ancient forests between sprawling sand beaches on the coast of the North Pacific Ocean. Kayakers will wind their way through many small island groups overflowing with rainforest vegetation and cross channels teaming with sea life, small and large. Both trips have campsites that feel like they are on the edge of the world.

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.

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 lead by LD staff. 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 for a day, 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.

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.



Wednesday February 9, 2022 – 12:00pm (noon)


Wednesday February 16, 2022 – 12:00pm (noon)

Returning Camper Information Click Here


Overnight Camper – Cabin Selection

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 4-22 $3440 Register Online
19 Day Hike – All Gender Cabin July 4-22 $3370 Register Online
19 Day Kayak – All Gender Cabin Aug 1-19 $3440 Register Online
19 Day Hike – All Gender Cabin Aug 1-19 $3370 Register Online


Each year our community on Vancouver Island supports the YMCA-YWCA with charitable donations. These donations in turn are made available through Financial Assistance to families who demonstrate a financial need so all children may have a summer camp experience. Click here to make a donation.

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.


Bus Departure and Arrival Times
Morning Drop Off

Location Time
Downtown Y 8:00am
Westhills Y 8:30am
Camp Thunderbird – driven by car 9:00am

Afternoon Pick UP

Updated June 27 – Picking up your camper by car at camp please arrive at 2:30pm. Traffic on Fridays can be especially heavy please give yourself ample time to arrive to camp or the Westhills Y.  Late parent/guardian arrival further delays our bus service.

Location Time
Downtown Y 5:15pm
Westhills Y 4:30pm
Camp Thunderbird – driven by car 2:30pm

COVID-19 Screening – Before Boarding the Bus

Campers and one caregiver will be asked to arrive at the bus stop 15 minutes before the scheduled bus departure times in order to allow enough time to complete the required COVID-19 pre-screening process with all families. Screening will also occur at camp for anyone who is driven to camp directly by a parent or guardian. Please be patient. Our experience conducting the COVID-19 pre-screening last year was effective and efficient. Mask wearing is required for staff and campers on the bus.


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 received by May 1st are subject to a 25% administration fee of the total camp cost including future payments. After May 1st camp 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.

2022 COVID-19 FAQ

SUMMER Camp 2022 FAQ


Please review the Family Information Booklet for detailed camp information.

2022 Leadership Development Info Booklet

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