Play · Learn · Connect…Naturally!

Our Mission

We believe in creating a safe and comfortable natural learning environment so that our forest friends can develop a strong educational foundation where they can play, learn and connect in nature!

Nestlings Program

Registration for ages 6 – 36 months old

 Cumberland

Early Years Program

Registration for ages 2.5 – 5 years old

 Cumberland · Comox · Courtenay · Campbell River

Forest Buds Program

Registration for ages 5 – 9 years old

Cumberland · Courtenay · Campbell River

All three of our children have played, bounced, climbed and smiled through the nature program experience with Hand-In-Hand. Wrought with natural stimulation, and warm and safe guidance by the teachers, this program has been one of the very best experiences we have provided for our children – they’re still benefiting from the activities and ways of playing and being that their program fostered for them. Our kids love being outside in all weather, and they continue to hold a deep appreciation for the natural world and all her wonders…and we can thank Hand-In-Hand for much of this resilience and intrinsic joy outside.

– Christa Petch (HIH Forest Family)

Our Program

Hand-In-Hand Nature Education is an outdoor educational program located in the Comox Valley and Campbell River that is designed to offer a unique learning experience for children 6 months to 17 years old. Our Nestlings Program is for forest friends 6 months – 3 years old, our Early Years Programs are for forest friends 2.5 to 5 years of age and our Forest Buds Program is for forest friends 5 to 9 years old. In addition to our school year programs, we also offer Spring Break and Summer Camp Programs, an Annual Vancouver Island Nature Education Campference for forest friends and beach buddies 2 to 17 years old, and Nature-Based Consultation Services (also available online) for all levels of education…(pre)schools, early years centres, graduate programs, recreational centres and any and all interested adults. With our “outdoor classrooms” set in nature and the 4 seasons providing multiple learning opportunities, our possibilities are endless! Our Early Years Program is offered Monday to Friday outside from 9am to 12pm, with our optional Extended Afternoon Hours Program offered at our Cumberland and Comox ROOTS Programs, which is a combination of outdoor and indoor experiences running until 3pm. All of our programs are facilitated by Nature Educators (most of whom have either an ECE, ECEA and/or B.Ed). Our Early Years Program, which has a ratio of no more than 1 Nature Educator to 8 forest friends, expands on the BC Ministry of Education’s Early Learning Framework, with an emphasis on a child-led, nature and play-based curriculum that encourages preschoolers to engage with their environment through art, music, games, physical activities and group learning…GO NATURE!!!

Click here if you're wondering, "What is Nature Education?"

Learning Environments

The nature parks of Cumberland, Comox, Courtenay and Campbell River are living classrooms that foster an understanding and appreciation of nature through direct experiences. Educational programs for all ages encourage responsibility for the care and protection of the natural environment.

Cumberland

Coal Creek Historic Park is the gateway to the Beaufort Mountains. The 40-hectare wilderness park encompasses wetlands, salmon-bearing streams, lush second-growth forests, towering Douglas-fir trees, magical red cedar groves and rare western yew trees and a variety of flora and fauna. Cumberland Lake Park is located on the shores of the glacier-fed Comox Lake, offers sandy beaches and 24 hectares of pristine and ecologically diverse wilderness.  Click here to learn more!

Comox

The Filberg Park is known for its extensive gardens, with a stream running through the natural ravine. Mack Laing Nature Park is a second-growth forest with the lushly vegetated and active salmon stream, Brooklyn Creek meandering through the property and entering the ocean under the Brooklyn Creek Bridge. Click here to learn more!

Courtenay

With 40 acres of developed grounds and nature park, the Comox Valley Exhibition is situated on the bank of the Tsolum River in the scenic Comox Valley and nestled between the Beaufort Mountains and the Strait of Georgia where fertile farmlands are in abundance. Click here to learn more!

Campbell River

The Sportsplex is a multi-use facility located in Willow Point Park, a popular year-round recreational destination that offers a playground, picnic area and a network of easy walking trails. Adjacent to the park are the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands (BLFL), which are located on the southern side of Campbell River, within the Simm’s Creek watershed. Click here to learn more!

Our Philosophy

We know that children learn best with direct, hand-on interaction, which is why our program is immersed in the outdoors and is designed to facilitate a child’s learning experience through nature and play-based education… another relationship that goes Hand-In-Hand!

Our Curriculum

Along with following the Forest School Model, a national standard set by the Children and Alliance of Canada (CNAC) of being child-led and nature-based, our nature education program is comprised of 2 main components: Ecology and Adventure Education!

Our Nature Educators

All of our programs are facilitated by Nature Educators (most of whom have either an ECE, ECEA and/or B.Ed) with our Early Years Program ratio of no more than 1 Nature Educator to 8 forest friends. All of our Nature Educators are extremely passionate, dedicated and inspired by connecting children to nature…GO TEAM!!!

Consultation Services

We strive to get as many children learning outside as possible, and we love sharing our knowledge with others! We offer a number of dynamic, engaging and hands-on learning workshops, presentations, courses and sessions that are specifically designed to meet the needs of your program and staff. These sessions can be held indoors or outside, in-person or online, and are available in a number of subject areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our In-House Subsidy Fund

In an effort to make our Early Years Programs as accessible to as many families as possible, we created our In-House Subsidy Fund to help low-income families register their children at Hand-In-Hand Nature Education.

News

Our program has been IN THE NEWS and featured in CBC, Explore Magazine, Shaw TV  News, Island Parent Magazine, Comox Valley Record, Comox Valley Echo, 98.9 FM The Goat, Comox Valley Collective and more!

Our program also has our own HAND-IN-HAND NEWS where we announce new locations, upcoming programs, fundraisers, events, presentation, workshops and more!

Contact Us

Please be in touch if you have any questions, or want to learn more about Forest and Nature School.

Other Adventures

Spring Break Programs: (ages 3 – 6)

Our Spring Break Programs are nature-based, child-led and outdoor educational programs, designed to offer a unique early childhood learning experience.

Summer Camp Programs: (ages 3 – 6)

Our Summer Camp Programs are nature-based, child-led and outdoor educational programs, designed to offer a unique early childhood learning experience.

KIDS Campference!: (ages 3 – 17)

This FREE 3-day nature-inspired, volunteer event is our way of giving back to the many families who support nature education programs on and around Vancouver Island!