WILDERNESS & OUTDOOR LEARNING PROGRAMS
For Schools & Organizations
May 10 - June 20 • Sept. 1 - Oct. 15
3, 4 & 5 day sessions
• Fees flexible to program plan-length.
• Faculty welcome at no charge.
• HST & Ontario Parks fees applicable.
Contact Director Mike Sladden for information & availability
585-249-0716 winter • 705-633-5553 summer
" The Pathfinder experience for our seventh graders has consistently led to a positive start to the school year. I have worked with Mike Sladden and his team of guides to design a program that ties directly to our school's mission.
The community-building activities, based in a pristine, technology-free setting, reinforce our school's goal of promoting character education. Our students return with a clearer sense of empathy and a greater respect for one another and for the natural environment.
The experienced guides connect easily with middle schoolers and confidently direct them through, for many, their first wilderness experience. I can't think of a more effective way to jump-start the school year and getting kids, even middle schoolers, excited to work together.
We have also been fortunate to include a team of seventh grade teachers each year to participate side by side, and paddle-by-paddle, with their students in a non classroom environment.
The student-teacher relationships established at Pathfinder set the tone for productive year in the classroom."
- John Munro, Head of Middle School, Nichols School
For School Groups & Organizations
Pathfinder is a unique destination, offering wilderness experiences that expand more than learning -- confidence, creativity, cooperation, and community. An historic summer canoe tripping camp for boys, Pathfinder is known in Canada and the United States for its outdoor education and leadership programs. The Algonquin setting and expert staff combine to make a Pathfinder trip memorable.
School and organization private events are conducted in the spring and autumn. These off-season programs introduce young people --as individuals and a team -- to the Park and to the Pathfinder experience: simple living in harmony with Algonquin, making a personal and cerebral connection to the natural world, working and playing together in friendship and respect, all while having a blast!
Now in its 107th season, Pathfinder's program is run by Owner-Director Mike Sladden with a veteran guide staff. Collaborating with a group's leaders, we custom design each 3 - 5 day experience. From our island base, students and faculty in guided small groups paddle, trail-hike, bush walk, mountain bike and challenge the ropes-course. Overnight back country canoe trips are an added option. Special events, fun camp traditions, and shared low-impact stewardship chores round out the island days.
Among the ways Pathfinder meets its mission to campers and staff is the camp’s outreach to indigenous peoples of the canoe country Pathfinder people have revered since our inception in 1914.
'...Pathfinder’s home island at Source Lake lies in the headwaters of the Madawaska River, traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg,– the original inhabitants and stewards of this land. Today, this land remains home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island...'
To read our full Camp Pathfinder Land Acknowledgement & introduction by Director Mike Sladden, please click the link below.
Canoeing & Kayaking
Instruction & Exploration
Our staff teach students basic canoemanship - draws, running draws, pries, sweeps, braces and the all-important J stroke! Once students master the basic strokes, they move on to a class paddle around the lake, so that they are well prepared for their day trips or back country trips. Life vests and capsize training for all.
Team Building, Problem Solving & Pushing your Limits!
Trained course facilitators work with kids on low elements for trust, team-building & problem-solving skills; high elements are designed to help push limits in the safe, controlled environment of our quality ropes course. Elements include Zip line, Dangle Duo (Giants Ladder) , Pamper Pole, Catwalk, & Rock Wall.
Trail Biking & 'Bike,Paddle, Hike' treks
Enjoy Rock Lake & Booth's Rock Trail or Cache Lake & the Symount
Our staff will guide groups of 9-12 students and staff on a fun bike ride to Rock Lake, where they will hike Booth's Rock Trail up to an amazing sight over the lake. After enjoying lunch with the group, they will head down, get into canoes, and paddle to see pictographs on Rock Lake and explore rock caves. A popular alternate day is biking, canoeing and climbing around Cache Lake's famous Skymount lookout cliffs. A wonderful way to spend the day.
Survival Skills Clinic/Challenge
'Survival' is a two-hour struggle to survive in Algonquin as an herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore. Students must locate hidden food and water across the Island, but must also avoid injury, disease, fire, Man, and other natural predators. This active game is appropriate to all ages. The Ranger Challenge involves small groups making shelter, fire and food with minimal resources, as they create a progressive folk lore story based on the history of Algonquin rangers.
Overnight Canoe Trip
Portage, Paddle & Camp in Algonquin
Groups may also choose guided wilderness overnight trips through lakes and trails of the Park. Our skilled staff will help the group learn to outfit and pack for trip. Smaller groups of 9-15 including students, school staff and Pathfinder staff will paddle, portage, cook and camp. One-night to three-night trips available.
Logging Museum Day Trip
Logging Museum, Visitors Center
Enjoy a day at Algonquin Parks historic Logging Museum. Pathfinder guides bring to life the story of logging, from the early square timber days to modern forestry management. Start your visit with a documentary that sums up the logging history of the Algonquin area. On the easy-to-walk 1.5 km trail, a recreated camboose camp and a fascinating steam-powered amphibious tug called an "alligator" are among the many displays.
Lectures, Demonstrations & Traditional Storytelling
Learn about this lake, park and culture through lectures from wilderness and cultural professionals, demonstrations on how to trip, canoe and camp properly, and storytelling (both true and folklore) from our wonderfully educated and entertaining staff.
Evening Games & Campfire
Stories, Music, Song & Laughter
Each evening after swim bath is a hearty family style dinner; then, the group gets the last light of the day for a camp game, and gathers at the hearth or camp fire for reflection, story telling, music, song, and laughter. There are nighttime expeditions to howl for wolves and revel in the cosmos in this unique place without light pollution.
Paddle & Paint The Tom Thompson Story
Hear of Tom's mysterious story & paint on his favorite Lake
Exploring the backcountry where lake meets river, beaver marsh, & conifer lowland environments through paddle & through paint. Students cooperate in tandem paddling to explore that next bend in Potter's Creek and Canoe Lake. Guides give each student a watercolor painting field kit & facilitate intuitive landscape painting at a backcountry location along the trip route. Back on the Island, around the stone fireplace, is a time for recognition and sharing of the day's experiences. The story of Tom Thomson's creative connection with the Algonquin landscape, & the simple campsite enjoyments of debating his mysterious death in Algonquin in 1917, are important components as well.
History Paddles & Day Trips
Trace past, present, future
Groups choose guided hikes of Park trails and wilderness waterway paddles. We have access to the Park's excellent museums of natural history and logging, Pathfinder's own fascinating wooden canoe craftsmen Jack Hurley and Dave Statten, and the Park's professional biologists and interpreters.
LOCATION, FACILITIES & DINING
Pathfinder is a five-hour drive door to dock from Buffalo, three and one half-hours from metro Toronto and Ottawa, and two hours from Peterborough, ON. Camp accommodates over 100 guests in cabins and platform tent lodges. Spring and Autumn groups typically comprise 30-80 guests. Faculty live adjacent to student tents and lodges. These areas can be assigned to separate genders.
Located since 1914 on Pathfinder Island, Source Lake, Camp Pathfinder is unique among the renowned Algonquin Park youth camps. Accessible only by water, designed to be a simple, technology-free setting, the island base camp is a preserved historic site; a beautiful pine dining hall with resident chef and complete food service; a swim waterfront; treasured canvas canoe fleet, voyageur canoes, kayaks, sailcraft and SUP boards; an excellent ropes-challenge course; and modern vans for trip shuttle to special access points of Algonquin Park.
We maintain a large fleet of watercraft. Wood-canvas canoes are the pride of the Camp, complemented by modern Royalex or Kevlar canoes, along with touring and river kayaks for paddling instruction, free paddling and tripping. A picturesque swim waterfront with 10- and 20-foot dive towers is the centre for swims and soap bathing. The Island campus includes the historic dining hall (1934), recreation lodge (1946), council fire clearings (1910s), low/high ropes and challenge course (2000), Canoe Shop (2010) and athletics courts. The Pathfinder Rec Lodge is a pine landmark, with restored truss beams, mullion windows, maple floor, and modern lighting, state of the art audio-visual equipment, reference library, and game tables for billiards, foosball and table tennis, all in a lodge atmosphere. The facility can be tailored to use or hide its technology resources.
The dining hall seats up to 190 people at family style pine tables. Our head chef Gonzalo Pantoja and his cooks cover all food service, both on-island and for tripping. His homemade menu, including baking and pastries, is prepared fresh daily on the Island. Pathfinder accommodates dietary preferences and needs.
Staffing & Safety
The Pathfinder Staff is made up of veterans who are longtime guides and directors, with special skills in outdoor education. A typical Pathfinder guide staff for school programs is 6-8 professionals plus the kitchen and service staff. Pathfinder has a well-equipped infirmary, the camp's guides and instructors are Wilderness First Responders, CPR and Lifeguard certified.
Our consulting physicians, Dr. Julia Orkin and Dr. Aaron Orkin are on call at all times. Ontario EMS, Algonquin Park emergency response, and the proximity of Huntsville Memorial Hospital all combine to offer superlative service to the Camp's location.
A Brief Camp History
Camp Pathfinder was established on Source Lake in 1914 by Rochester educators Franklin Gray and William Bennett. Pathfinder has been in continuous operation ever since.
Owners Herman Norton, William Swift, Roy Thrall, and currently Glenn Arthurs and Michael Sladden, have stewarded the camp on Pathfinder Island as a simple, technology-free outpost, a unique community in the heart of wild, world-famous Algonquin Provincial Park, from which Pathfinder trippers explore the backcountry.
Camp Pathfinder is a founding member and is accredited by the Ontario Camping Association (OCA) and Canadian Camping Association (CCA).