Outdoor Education

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Pictures taken were at the Centres by volunteers Bill McMullen and James McDonald

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board operates two Outdoor Education Centres: MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre in Ottawa’s east end, and the Bill Mason Centre in the west. Both Centres provide high quality, hands-on outdoor programming that is designed and delivered to complement classroom learning in many sections of the Ontario Curriculum. Each visiting group is introduced to the beauty of the natural world, and our place in it. Learn more by checking out our Outdoor Education Newsletter

This 502-acre outdoor classroom is used annually by 22,000 elementary and secondary students, who attend the Centres for day programs, to learn and participate in outdoor programs based on their grade’s curriculum.

The operation and management of the OCDSB Outdoor Education Centres is through the branch of the OCDSB Continuing Education Department and is assisted by all OCDSB departments. Community sponsors and partners greatly contribute financially to ensure that elementary and secondary students are able to attend the centres.

The primary focus of these educational facilities is to provide outdoor learning opportunities to elementary and secondary students. To ensure that every OCDSB student has the opportunity to attend the Centres, the “Every Student Attends Program” was created. This program allows OCDSB Grade 3 and 7 classes to attend either Centre for one curriculum-based outdoor field trip per school year with no programming cost.

OCDSB Outdoor Education Centres (MacSkimming & Bill Mason Centre) have booked up fast for the 2023-2024 school year. Please add your inquiry to 2023-24 OCDSB Outdoor Ed Centres Waitlist and we will notify you if or when a space comes available. At this time, we are not able to accommodate overnight field trips or facility rentals. Weekend day rentals are available.

To learn more about our offerings, visit these pages:
Visiting the Centres

For all students and volunteers who are attending the Centres, we ask that you prepare to be outside for the day and dress for the weather (90% of your visit will be outside!). Especially during the spring, summer and fall months, we encourage all visitors to wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, socks and proper outdoor shoes to allow you to be active and protect yourself from pests such as mosquitos and ticks.

Public Access – Open Trails Day


Both Centres are heavily used by school classes and at MacSkimming Centre, weekend groups. Therefore, both Centres are not open to the public to access and hike. Each Centre hosts an annual Open Trails Day when the public can access these sites and explore. 

Bill Mason Centre’s Open Trails Day will be Saturday, May 4, 2024. More details will be shared on this page.

Contact Us

  • Outdoor Education Centres

    3635 Highway 174
    Ottawa, ON K4C 1G9

Additional Resources

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