Gulf Islands Centre for Ecological Learning

Learn through play and exploration.
Mayne Island, British Columbia
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The Gulf Islands Centre for Ecological Learning (GICEL) is a non-profit society founded in 2002 to offer ecological learning programs for children in the southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia in Canada. Its major partner is the Gulf Islands School District, and it was sponsored initially by the Institute for Ethical Leadership in Vancouver. Its core and signature program is the Summer Earth Education Program, which consists of one-week day camps for children aged 6 – 12. In the camps, the children form clans, construct forts, and explore and play together in the forests, freshwater, and marine environments of the Gulf Islands. Children gain a deeper understanding of the ecosystems around them and how they work. The camps are wildly popular with the children and are enthusiastically supported by parents and grandparents. A Seedlings program for younger children aged 3-5 is also available, which provides free exploration in nature with music, art and games. In addition, the Environmental Leaders Apprentice Program is held on Cortes Island for older students who want to explore deeply in a remote camp. After 15 years of operation GICEL is now approaching its 3000th registration. Many participants have gone on to become junior leaders assisting with teaching and other activities. Many also go on to pursue university courses in Environmental Studies. The GICEL experience is unique in its success in giving children the tools they need to become caretakers of the Earth as global citizens of the future.