Woman Hiking

Open Outdoors

Igniting your love of the outdoors starts here. Indigenous Peoples and equity deserving groups learn outdoor skills for free.

A family of two girls and one adult smiling at the camera in the woods

An Open Invitation to Outdoor Pursuits

The YMCA Open Outdoors program is designed to ignite a love of the outdoors by offering accessible skill building activities to empower equity deserving communities to be comfortable in the outdoors. Equity deserving communities are those historically under-resourced and under-represented in outdoor education and includes Black, racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+, and disabled communities. In addition to these groups, the program also aims to engage Indigenous youth and families recognizing the specific historical colonial inequities tied to land access and the outdoors that has led to Indigenous underrepresentation in outdoor education.

Join us for outdoor educator-led sessions to build skills and confidence, learn more about the natural world around you, and connect with others. We are committed to supporting you in your journey to enjoy the outdoors and gain new skills year-round.  

We want Open Outdoors to continue to be accessible for everyone who wants to participate and sustainable for the YMCA to operate. With this in mind, we have implemented a Pay What You Can (PWYC) pricing model that encourages everyone to contribute at a manageable level for them.   

More details can be found at registration. 

Each month we will focus on a new outdoor skill and alternate between our three outdoor centre locations: YMCA Cedar Glen, YMCA Camp Pine Crest, and our satellite outdoor centre located on Toronto Island. Skill instruction will vary based on the location and time of year. We encourage participation from individuals, families and groups, but please note that youth must be 16 years old to participate without adult supervision. 

Learn Outdoor Skills

Each Open Outdoors’ session will focus on developing, or building upon, an outdoor skill, such as: rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, snow shoeing, and more!
Program offerings will be seasonally dependent.

See our calendar below of all current scheduled sessions.

Boating, Canoeing, Kayaking

This session is lead and designed to teach the skills and safety requirements associated with paddling. This session is for anyone who has never paddled a boat before, or anyone who would like to improve their skills or build confidence should also consider this program.

Farm to Table

Participants will get a tour of an ecological farm and experience all aspects of food production, from the planning of a garden, to seeding and planting, to caring for plants, and finally harvesting and tasting.

Fire Building & Outdoor Cooking

Participants will learn the essential skills necessary to start and maintain a safe campfire, utilizing natural materials found in the surrounding unique ecosystem. Once the fire is lit, participants will make a snack over the fire to learn about outdoor cooking and enjoy it as a reward for their hard work!

Orienteering & Outdoor Skills

Participants will learn to use a map for navigation, including recognition of many important aspects of a map: legend, scale, title and the compass rose.

Sturdy shoes are recommended as there will be lots of walking and hiking around the site.

Ropes & Climbing

Our high ropes courses or climbing walls provide an excellent environment for folks to work together, build trust, and develop communication in a safe setting that promotes personal growth. Participants will take responsibility for one another in a very real way by belaying the climbers in teams with staff supervision.

Open Outdoor Programming Calendar

Registration is required. Keep checking back as more dates get added throughout the year!
Date & Time
Program Highlight
Transportation Available
Register Link
May 11
10:30 am - 3:30 pm
YMCA Camp Pine Crest

Busing is available.
Sign up during registration.
June 9
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

YMCA Cedar Glen

High Ropes & Archery
Busing is available.
Sign up during registration.

Locations & Transportation Details

Getting to our outdoor centres just got easier! Complimentary bus service is available for most sessions, making a round trip from The YMCA at The David Braley Vaughan Centre to either outdoor centre, and back.
The YMCA at The David Braley Vaughan Centre is accessible by TTC and Viva.

Departure and arrival times of the bus are listed when you register for each session.
Our outdoor centres are also available by vehicle and have free parking onsite.
Busing is not available for sessions located at Toronto Island, however the cost of the ferry will be covered by the YMCA.


YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor Centre

YMCA Cedar Glen is situated on 263 acres of the Oak Ridges Moraine, a 45-minute drive north of Toronto. Since 2001, our site and staff have been connecting people of all ages to nature, offering year-round experiences for groups, families, and individuals.


YMCA Camp Pine Crest

YMCA Camp Pine Crest is located in Muskoka, Ontario. Nestled on the shores of beautiful Clear Lake, in Muskoka, Ontario, Camp Pine Crest is situated on over 650 acres and has provided outdoor camping experiences since 1910.


Toronto Island YMCA (satellite outdoor centre location)

Toronto Island YMCA is a short ferry ride from downtown Toronto, our parkland site offers a variety of land and water activities. Outdoor Centre programs are offered during June and September for school and groups of all ages.

Open Outdoors Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate in Open Outdoors?

Anyone who is Indigenous, Black, Racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+, Disabled, or has never had the opportunity to learn outdoor skills due to other barriers.

Activities are geared for folks 6 and over. Anyone under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. Sign up as an individual, group, or family.

Where does Open Outdoors take place?

Open Outdoors will take place at our outdoor centres, YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor Centre and YMCA Camp Pine Crest, or from our satellite location on Toronto Island. Each month, the location of the program will alternate.

The schedule will identify which location the program runs at each month.

How do I register?

Registration will be done online. The program is free of cost, but we do require all participants to register ahead of time for scheduling and safety procedures.

How accessible are your outdoor centres?

Our outdoor centres are not a fully accessible sites. We have several accommodations in place to make our program more accessible and are continually working to improve in this area. If you have questions about how you can participate, please feel free to reach out to us at cedarglen@ymcagta.org.

How do I get to Toronto Island YMCA?

Our Toronto Island YMCA outdoor centre satellite location is situated on Toronto’s Centre Island. It is a short ferry ride from downtown Toronto. All ferries depart from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. The ferry fee will be covered by the YMCA for the day’s event. All those registered will receive an email prior to the event with instructions on when and where to meet prior to boarding the ferry.

How do I get to YMCA Cedar Glen or YMCA Camp Pine Crest?

Both outdoor centres are accessible by car. Alternatively, there will be a bus available from The YMCA at The David Braley Vaughan Centre, located near the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Subway Stations. The bus to the outdoor centre is free of charge. There will be no bus available for the events hosted at Toronto Island YMCA.

Please check the registration link for the bus timing.

Can I register for more than one date?

Absolutely! We understand that skills and confidence take time! We welcome folks to keep coming back to try new activities or to build on their skills.

What do I need to bring or pack?

We do recommend bringing a hat, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, and day pack with a reusable water bottle.

And ensure you dress in appropriate layers for the weather. All programming will run rain or shine.

Please contact us at cedarglen@ymcagta.org if you need support in acquiring anything on the list above.

All equipment will be provided for you onsite for activities that require special equipment, such as helmets, lifejackets, snowshoes, and compasses.

Will food and refreshments be provided?

For activities planned at YMCA Cedar Glen and Toronto Island YMCA, snacks will not be provided. It is advised that you bring your own snacks for the duration of your day. There are water refill stations available on site.

For activities planned at YMCA Camp Pine Crest, lunch, a light snack and water refills will be available.

Please note all locations are nut-free. Please plan your food accordingly.

What is Pay What You Can (PWYC)?

We have implemented tiered pricing, which encourages everyone to contribute at a manageable level for them.  

We want Open Outdoors to continue to be accessible for everyone who wants to participate and sustainable for the YMCA to operate.  

We do not intend to generate revenue from this program; prices are calculated only to cover the program's cost.

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