These comments are from YLS Alumni over the past 5 years.

Joining YLS is the best decision I ever made and truly changed my life! I am forever grateful for all the amazing opportunities I was given and all the like-minded and passionate people I am now so close with. Cam is the most passionate and engaging teacher ever and makes learning fun and interesting every single day. The countless field trips gave us the opportunity to connect and learn with one another outside of the classroom setting, unlike any high school class. My YLS experience was so positive, truly an amazing program and I highly recommend it!”

I am so thankful that I took a leap and joined YLS. Being in this program made me want to come to school everyday and I really was interested in everything we were learning. I started friendships that I know I will keep for years to come. The field trips were amazing, and I loved being outside in nature so often. I cannot recommend this program highly enough!

Before YLS, I was really stuck in a box and always stayed in my comfort zone. This program pushed me way out of my comfort zone, in the best way possible, and it allowed me to pursue my interests as well as gain new ones. YLS made me feel much more confident in new situations and also made me feel like I’m capable of doing whatever I want! Joining YLS was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!”

“YLS was an incredible experience for me. This may sound overdramatic, but it was genuinely life changing. The opportunities I was given to be a leader in my community, and the connections I was able to make with strong youth, are both things that will benefit me for the rest of my life.”

Overall one of the best academic decisions ive made, got me outside and thinking about the issues that threaten our future., made alot of great friends along the way.”

My experience with the program was incredible. If you love being outside, trying new things and care about making a difference this is THE program! You get to try things that you never thought of trying. Like writing to the minister of environment about saving an old growth forest, or presenting with a professional in a different field.  I learned so much about politics, being proactive in my community and about myself. If you want to create connections with other people in different schools, it’s the perfect setting, and can create friendships you never would have started on your own. If you need something a little different this semester choose YLS!

“If you like having fun with friends learning about nature and going to school but not feeling it’s school, you’ll love YLS!”

No words will actually describe how important this program is to me. I have recommended it and will continue to recommend it to everyone I meet because it has truly been the best experience.”

I can’t say enough about this program and Mr Douglas who teaches the majority of the classes as part of YLS. It has been absolutely amazing for my daughter and I think the other 24 students. Life changing, engaging, real world learning. Once in a lifetime experience not to be missed!” (a parent)

This course well exceeded my expectations. Though the program did meet all its stated objectives, [these objectives] will never be able to encapsulate the understanding I have gained from this course. I am so grateful for this course and think that it fits [the objectives] to a ‘T’ and then makes sure our learning never stops. We are always learning about something involving sustainability and Cam always helps guide us through what we’re interested in and how we can get involved.”

joining this program was the best decision I have ever made.”

If you really want to make a change, you should take this program because you learn all the skills necessary to make a change

I entered YLS as an entirely different person than I am today as a result of the learning experiences provided in the program

I love this course so much and feel I have started to become the person I am supposed to be as a result. I will be very sad to go back to my home school and not get to participate in this innovative learning style

“I can’t really think of a time where I was as interested as I am in this program. For example, classes I’ve had before, maybe I would’ve had one or two classes in science and geography where I was genuinely interested in it, but in YLS I’m interested in the subject material all the time.”

I think my views have been challenged all year.  It’s part of growing, challenging your views and thinking about other people. It’s been a great program for sharing new ideas, not being afraid of anyone, just because someone had a different opinion, you can still share it obviously.”

I feel that each event in YLS has led me further and further on a journey of self empowerment and self discovery that i will continue on for the rest of my life. I will never stop learning, sharing and growing.”

“I wasn’t as interested in a course I was taking last year. I was late like every day to it, I wasn’t motivated. This class, this YLS class, I just feel so motivated to get up everyday, and learning something new.  I love how [fluid] it is sometimes, it’s just great, it’s like a nice surprise when you come. Just overall seeing my peers, and the positivity we have in this class.”

“I took YLS because I wanted to get out of the classroom and not sit at a desk for 4 periods a day”

“The learning environment here at YLS is great – its so much hands-on learning.  We do most of our stuff out of the classroom, and the time we spend in the classroom is super-dynamic.

“When I first heard that the program was going to be at Trent, I was really excited.  I was a little bit nervous about leaving my home school, but being here (Trent) has really helped me engage and learn more”

“I think its definitely worth it, because this is learning that is not going to happen in the regular school environment.  Its truly just for YLS.


On program field activities ….

these are experiences which shaped my learning and shaped my view of this program, and how I view the world and town I live in.”

 you get a lot of first-hand experiences which is amazing because you don’t get that in the classroom.”


Green Build with the Endeavour Center

Building that house when we were down at the [Ecology Park] and we actually got to mix, it wasn’t cement, but the natural clay together and actually got to put it on the walls and the we got to talk about it to the media about what we were doing. It really stuck out in my mind as something that really boosted all of our confidence and brought us together

Building with [Endeavour Center’s] Chris Magwood, I really enjoyed this experience, it felt empowering and very grounding to be building a building using natural materials that are good for the earth and for humans. We also got to plant a tree that day, which felt so wholesome and grounding, the simple act was really beautiful. From these experiences I learned that there are small scale things we can do ourselves and in our communities to make changes”.


Attending the Canadian Premiere of the Youth Climate Action film “Youth Unstoppable”

The ‘Youth Unstoppable’ movie was really a big impact to me in this program because it just shows what is happening around us and we don’t probably even know what is going on. It just shows how much we don’t know and that we need to know.

Watching Slater’s Youth Unstoppable film was surprisingly one of the most memorable and transformative moments for me this semester. It gave me more of a sense of global community and hope. I feel that experiences like that have empowered me to feel that I am capable of much more than I ever dreamt possible. I will be forcing all my friends and family to watch this film in the hopes it makes them feel the same way.”


On integrated curricular ties & the Wild Rice trip …

Indigenous studies, economics, world issues, sustainability, and active learning to come together. It opened my eyes to issues going on around me that I never would have known about otherwise. When later discussing topics in class (both in an indigenous focus and sustainable) I was able to connect the topics with the local problems being experience here in the Peterborough area. When at Curve Lake we planted the manoomin in the lake within our canoes and learned about the process to create an edible product. We heard about the struggles that James and his family where having with the cottagers along with the problems that could arise when harvesting. We got to see the work that is put into making manoomin. When remembering my time at YLS that is one of the first things that pop into my head.”


Meeting with local MP Honourable Maryam Monsef and leader of National Green Party Elizabeth May …

meeting both these strong woman and being able to listen to them and discuss important issues with them was an amazing experience.”


The way that Elizabeth May treated us and spoke to us was also very empowering. To see important political figures who genuinely care about us, value our voices and want us to succeed is inspiring and was missing from most of our lives. It is a very grounding experience to discuss something with someone who has known and been known by so many more souls than you, and to understand that nothing sets us apart from each-other other than our own behaviour


On teaching at the Haliburton Muskoka Kawartha Children’s Water Festival …

This field trip put me in a position that was outside of my comfort zone in the best way possible.  We were given all the resources that we needed to teach the children at our individual stations and were left basically to our own devices. I felt like this experience helped me gain confidence in my abilities as a presenter since the children were such a forgiving audience and for me, sharing information with them was very rewarding as it felt like we were having an impact on the way these kids considered the water and environment.”


we got to teach about a sustainability and/or environmental issue and teaching always helps you learn more about the issue.”


On the Integration of Indigenous perspective and history into program learning …

the Indigenous perspective was specifically addressed frequently when we talked about issues specifically in Canada that was pretty much always brought up whether it was intentional or not because we do have a focus on that in our fourth period class so it’s always on our minds I guess.”

I have learned way more Indigenous history in this class [course] than in actual history,” ….”or the rest of my schooling experience.”


One Roof Ministries and the Warming Room

The field trip was truly made by Christian [Harvey’s] joyful and educated personality. He approached very serious topics [homelessness and stigma] in a way that made you feel secure and lighthearted without taking away from the gravity from the situation. He has such a unique way of thinking which I believe all people should have, although I didn’t have this way of thinking before meeting him. This field trip was a life changing opportunity that I had no clue was in our town and I believe everyone should talk to Christian to learn what he has to say in their lifetime”.


On leadership …

I had an opportunity to sort of play a leadership role and guide our class trip on a trip to Harper Park and that was a pretty interesting experience for me because I had never really done that before. I definitely gained confidence from that in leadership skills.”

I was a strong leader and took on a lot of responsibility. I was unsure about myself in the beginning but after awhile I was able to focus and be a strong person.”

I am a really anxious person by nature – but getting to know more people in power, and learning to communicate with them has helped a lot, and I feel much more sure of myself when I have to reach out to people. What we’re learning as a whole allows me to participate in conversations more as well, bringing up climate strikes and MMIW [Missing and murdered Indigenous women] in situations where people could stand to be more aware.”


On speaking at climate rally …

We had a bunch of support from our other group members there. [Friend] and I were doing interviews… So we were completely out of our comfort zone, we weren’t speaking our first language, and we were getting interviewed. It was in French, it wasn’t in English. We were, you know, put on the spot. We didn’t know what we’d be talking about and I would never have done it if my friend hadn’t told me too. But, I would’ve regretted not doing it. I definitely enjoyed it.”


On Connecting with the community …

Our conversation with the vendors of the Peterborough farmers markets helped me strengthen my communication and networking skills. Beforehand I would have been intimidated to speak to strangers/vendors on their opinions at a farmers market. It taught me that majority of people would love to have a conversation about topics that they are passionate or interested in You can gain so many different perspectives and opinions on the topic. So much can be learned through conversation in your community.”


On spending the whole day together in an integrated curriculum setting …

I think because of the size of our class and where we are, we’re in such a small classroom and we’re with each other every day for 5 months, we don’t have the liberty to have petty conflict with each other. There have been a couple of instances but it’s smoothed over fairly quickly because we can’t be at odds with each other when we have to be in the same space with each other every single day.

I do think that we learned how to work together really well. Like the plastics project that we had to do in an hour and we all did so amazing. We just had one hour of time and everyone was all working together because we are all comfortable with each other. We weren’t afraid to get in close and share ideas.”

I have learned how to get along with many different personality types and have become more resilient and independent having to do more for myself even in the face of adversity.”

 “I think that we’ve created a network of friends that we’re going to hold on to for much longer. We have these new resources of peers in other schools that we can stay in contact with and keep developing with this on. I think I’ve created so many friends in this that I’m not going to lose when I leave, which is really nice.


Parting thoughts …

“Cam, thank you so much for running YLS an for believing in us all day after day.  YLS made me excited to come to school in the morning and you showed me that my voice mattered.   Choosing to come to Trent was scary but from the minute I sat down I knew I was where I was meant to be. Now a am having trouble wrapping my head around going back to [my home school].  You have changed the way I see the world and inspired me to advocate for my beliefs.  Know that even if we didn’t say it, your hard work to create opportunities for us never went unnoticed.  I am beyond grateful for this experience.”

 “I feel like I have grown as a person throughout this semester.  I will never forget this experience and I’m not even sure how to describe in words how great this was and how grateful I am to have had you as a teacher and mentor.  I am very sad to leave.”


(unsolicited) Parent Testimonial

Cam, we can’t thank you enough for creating YLS and sharing all your passion, knowledge and care for the earth and doing what’s right in the world!  [Our child] has had a fabulous time learning and growing.  The program has enriched her last year in high school and inspired her in many ways.  She will carry all of her experiences with her into the future to do good things in the world