Community Programs

Winter & Spring Registration Opening Soon!

How To Book Community Programs

  1. Go to the Booking Calendar to select a date for your program. You will be prompted to provide some information about you or your child.
  2. To complete registration and reserve your booking, a payment will be required using a credit card. We are unable to reserve time slots without payment at this time.
  3. Complete the associated Waiver Form for the program:
    • Junior Stewards, Homeschool Science, and Summer Science: complete our Medical and Waiver Form and send to programs@swanlake.bc.ca at least 7 days before program start. Your registration is not considered complete until this form is received. You can also bring in the completed form to the Nature House (please see hours).

IMPORTANT: If you anticipate that your child requires extra support (neurodivergent, for example: ADHD) – please contact programs@swanlake.bc.ca prior to booking to ensure the program is a good fit for everyone.

Please call 250-479-0211 or email programs@swanlake.bc.ca if you have any questions.

CANCELLATIONS & REFUNDS:

We require 48 hours notice for cancellations. Any cancellation within 48h before class start or any no-shows is non-refundable. It puts a lot of strain on a small non-profit organization to offer refunds (due to staff time and the cost of issuing e-transfers). We appreciate your understanding.

Youth Programs

Junior Stewards

Stewardship is about creating a sense of connection, care, and responsibility for each other and the natural world that supports us. In these outdoor, hands-on sessions, young stewards will be introduced to the Garry Oak ecosystem, and then learn and practice restoration skills. These programs will specifically benefit our endangered Western Painted Turtle population, the only remaining native turtle species on Vancouver Island.

Bring lunch, snacks, and a water bottle. This program will have an indoor and outdoor component with health & safety guidelines in place. Please dress ready to spend the day outside. This is a drop-off program.

Participant Group Size: 10 Maximum

Pro-D Camp - Friday Feb 17th - Registration URL

Pro-D Camp - Friday May 19th - Registration URL

Ages 8-12

9-4pm

Cost: $80/non-members, 10% discount for members

Junior Stewards Spring Break Camp

Tuesday-Thursday March 28-30

10-11:30am - 6-8 year olds

1-2:30pm - 9-12 year olds

 

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happy father carrying little girl on shoulder.

Big & Little

Caregivers and their littles are invited to come explore nature at the Nature Sanctuary together! Big & Little is a fun and interactive program for kids ages 3-5 and their adults. This program includes include hands-on discovery, an outside ramble, a story and a craft.

Classes are on Fridays, from 10:00 – 11:30am. Check out the dates and themes below!

Ages 3 - 5

10:00 - 11:30 am$24 for 1 session, $8 per extra little

10% Discount for Members

Participant Group Size: 10 Big & Little pairs

December 2nd - Remarkable Reptiles - Registration URL

January 6th - Fungi and Lichen - Registration URL

February 3rd - Rockin' Reptiles - Registration URL

March 3rd - Magnificent Mammals - Registration URL

Apil 7th - Incredible Invertebrates - Registration URL

Homeschool Science

Sign up for interactive classes and learn about nature and ecology. Using games and hands-on discovery, students will engage in land and science-based activities. This is a repeating series and the content will in large remain the same, however, there will be some variation depending on seasonal changes. This is a drop-off program.

These programs will have an indoor and outdoor component with health & safety guidelines in place.

February

Ages 5-7 Registration URL

1-2:30pm

$105 for all 4 sessions, $95 for members

These sessions will occur on Thursday February 2, 9, 16, 23

April

Ages 8-12 Registration URL

1-2:30pm

$105 for all 4 sessions, $95 for members

These sessions will occur on Thursday April 6, 13, 20, 27

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Adult Programs

Wellness Wednesdays Journalling Series

Weekly, 1 - 2 PM

Wellness Wednesdays offer a space for participants to connect with themselves, nature and community through mindfulness, gentle silence and observational activities in nature. This winter, we invite you to engage in our indoor journalling series that will include guided wellness activities, time and space for expression, and shared reflections. This program aims to evoke thoughtful reflections on what it means to exist with, among or nearby nature and how nature holds expressions of us all. Each session will have a focal theme that relates to positionality in nature and sparks the discussion. We may explore pieces of art or literature that align with the topic to help inspire and prompt introspection. A Community Educator will guide participants through journalling prompts. This program is community orientated and aims to bring us closer to nature and each other!

Themes:

January 11th: Stewardship in Nature (Journalling) 

January 25th: Vulnerability and Barriers to Nature (Journalling)

February 8th: Gratitude and Garters (Journalling)

February 22nd: Belonging in Nature (Journalling)

March 8th: Stewardship in Nature (Journalling)

April 5th: Swan Lake Sounds

April 19th: Senses Walk

May 3rd: Gratitude and Garters (Journalling) 

May 17th: Movement in Nature 

May 31st: Swan Lake Sounds

June 14th: Senses Walk

 

Cost: $5 per participant

 

A "journalling program" indicates an accessible program in which we will be sitting. If you have accessibility needs and would like to come to a non-journalling session, please reach out ahead of time so we can work to accommodate you. 

If cost is a barrier to attending this program, please reach out: programs@swanlake.bc.ca

This program is for ages 17+

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Seniors Programs

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Available Time Slots:

Tuesday:

1:30 – 2:30

Thursday:

11:30 -12:30

Friday:

11:00 – 12:00

12:30 – 1:30

Please email programs@swanlake.bc.ca to confirm time and date.

We are in the process of re-launching our Senior Programs, new programs options will be added once they are created. Some of our old favourites like ‘Mind your Mammals’ & ‘History and tea’ will be coming back over the next few months, we just need time to make them perfect!

Bookable programs:

Hawks, Herons & Hummers

1 hour Program

Take flight with us as we explore the lives of various birds and how their habitat, characteristics and behaviours differ from one another.

We will be focusing on birds that you can find around the Nature Sanctuary, listening to their calls and showing off their beautiful nests which have been donated to the Nature House.

This educational program is aimed to help the community fall back in love with birds, and allow participants to have a hands-on learning experience.

Maximum Group Size: 28 attendees

Cost: $115

All Ages Programs

Are you curious to learn more about salmon? Join us for a hands-on interactive Tank Talk! We will go over the salmon life stages, their anatomy, and stewardship. We will have fun games and experiments that will engage participants in the magnificent journey of Pacific salmon.

According to COSEWIC, approximately half of Pacific salmon populations are in a state of decline. Discover how you can make positive change and support these vital species.

When:

Tuesday 1:00-2:00pm

Friday 12:00-1:00pm

Every other Saturday at 1-2:00pm & 2-3:00pm

Cost: $8 / participant, sliding scale available.

Please reach out if cost is a barrier to attending this talk. 10% Discount for Members.

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Are you keen to learn more about the miraculous creatures that make up over 95% of earth’s animal species?! We are dedicating this Spring Break to wonderfully diverse invertebrates. Come and learn about our tiny neighbours who perform incredible labours at our open Nature House. We will have various living invertebrates, infographics, and specimen to view under micro eye. Each day, a guest speaker or staff member will deliver a presentation based on a different critter topic.  

Where: the Nature House

When: Monday to Friday March 20-24

Guest Speaker Presentations (requires registration): 11-12pm

Other Activities (e.g. iNat Observations, Guided Walks): 1-2pm

Who: All ages, children must be accompanied by an adult for the entirety of the program

Cost: $8 / participant, sliding scale available. Please reach out if cost is a barrier to attending this talk. 10% Discount for Members

Presentations 11-12pm

Monday March 20 (Registration URL) Know Your Insects - Dr. Cara Gibson from the Nature Sanctuary

Tuesday March 21 (Registration URL) Marine Invertebrates - Kea McKay from the University of Victoria

Wednesday March 22 (Registration URL)Falon Lancey from the Victoria Butterfly Gardens

Thursday March 23 (Registration URL)Dragonflies - Claudia Copley from the Royal BC Museum

Friday March 24 (Registration URL)Karlee Friesen from the Victoria Bug Zoo

Afternoon Activities 1-2pm

Tuesday, March 21 Pollinator Craft Table

Wednesday, March 22 A Closer Look: Freshwater Inverts

Meet Your Speakers & Their Favourite Inverts!

Cara Gibson - Executive Director

 Cara has a BSc (Biology, Honours, Univ. of Toronto) and a Master’s and PhD (Entomology, Univ. of Arizona). She taught in higher education for over 20 years and her background spans biodiversity monitoring, science research and management, instructional design, fundraising, community organizing and scientific illustration. Cara joined the Nature Sanctuary as a Board member in 2019 and stepped into the Executive Director role in 2020. She is honoured to be helping to protect the Nature Sanctuary's rare and threatened species, steward and restore its ecosystems, and grow its communities of practice and education. "With nearly 1 million described species of insects, it's hard to pick just one. So, I'm going to cheat a little bit and say that my favorite group is the parasitic wasps. When you say the word "wasp," most people picture a Yellow jacket. But most wasps are actually quite tiny. Many are about the size of a freckle and yet, under the microscope, they can be iridescent rainbows with exquisite microsculptural details. Parasitic wasps also attack very specific hosts – they never bite or sting humans. In some cases, they are mass-reared in facilities and then released to control crop pests in place of using pesticides. I love them because they are beautiful, have fascinating life histories AND they are effective allies."

Falon has been caring for all shapes and sizes of animals at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens (VBG) for over five years, and one of her favorite invertebrates that the VBG houses is the Caribbean hermit crab. While they're best known for their shyness, these crabs are actually very social creatures who live in large colonies, and they're incredible climbers!

Kea is currently working towards a B.Sc in Marine Biology with a Minors in Indigenous Studies. She is also an artist and you can find some of their artwork of local marine life under the name @squiddllr Her favourite inverts are limpets! Fun fact: Limpet teeth are very strong (up to thirteen times stronger than steel) even stronger than spider silk - which used to be considered the strongest biological material known.

As a biologist and naturalist, Claudia Copley spends as much time as possible exploring the natural world. Claudia has been employed by the Royal BC Museum since 2004, where she is responsible for the Entomology Collection, which contains more than half a million specimens available for researchers from around the world. In British Columbia the River Jewelwing was discovered for the first time in 1999 - in a small area at the outflow of Christina Lake, very close to the US border. Since then it has also been reported in the Peace region as well as the interior near 100 Mile House. Keep an eye out for this gorgeous damselfly as you explore the province!

Karlee works at Victoria Bug Zoo! Their favorite insects are Dragonflies! Not only do they have the best eyesight out of all insects but they also do EVERYTHING in the air! Everything from eating to mating.

A Closer Look!

This all-ages, interactive program offers participants the opportunity to take a closer look at the natural world. This program makes use of our Microeye, a user-friendly microscope that allows us to zoom into intricacies and designs we would never notice with the naked eye! Each session will have a unique topic which we will discuss as we view related props under the Microeye. We ask participants to bring in items of interest, bonus if they are related to the topic, but this is not a requirement. 

This program runs on alternating Wednesdays, beginning November 2nd, from 10:30 - 11:30 AM

All ages, children must be accompanied by an adult for the entirety of the program 

Cost: $5 per participant 

Themes and Dates: 

Fungi, Lichen, and Slime Mold:  December 7th  

Freshwater Invertebrates: January 4th  

Life, Death, and Decomposition:  January 18th  

Bones and Builds: February 1st  

  

Fungi, Lichen, and Slime Mold:  February 15th  

Freshwater Invertebrates: March 1st  

Life, Death, and Decomposition:  March 15th  

Bones and Builds: March 29th   

  

Spring Blooms and Sweetness: April 12th  

Beautiful Birds: April 26th  

Freshwater Invertebrates: May 10th   

Terrestrial Insects: May 24th  

If cost is a barrier to attending this program, please reach out. Please see collection guidelines while registering if bringing items from off site. 

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Nets and other equipment ready for invertebrate sampling on a dock

Wetland Waterkeepers

Returning in Spring 2023!
Bi-Weekly, 10:30 - 11:30 AM

Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary Society has designed a lake water quality monitoring program that will train community members as Wetland Waterkeepers. Wetlands, also referred to as “the kidneys of the Earth” because of their ability to filter out contaminants, are areas that are saturated long enough to result in anaerobic or low-oxygen soils. These bogs, swamps and open water protect us from flooding, drought and climate change.  Wetlands support a remarkable degree of biodiversity, as much as rainforests and coral reefs, because they produce large volumes of food and provide ideal habitat conditions for many organisms. Swan Lake’s wetlands flourish with abundant plant and animal life, from cattails and muskrats to red osier dogwood and nesting warblers.

Volunteers will work alongside our staff team and other local community leaders in a collaborative framework to make meaningful, positive changes to the Nature Sanctuary's sensitive marshland ecosystems. We will train stewards to conduct various water quality assessments to understand the health of the lake by making measurements about the aquatic arthropod community, dissolved oxygen, and other water chemistry. Waterkeepers will also gain an understanding of their local watershed and how their actions on-site and at home can support the resilience of critical wetland habitat. The impact of this stewardship work on site will positively benefit various sensitive wetland species such as the endangered Western Painted Turtle population.
Gather on the Founder's Wharf.

Pollinator Party in a Rewilded Meadow

Returning in Spring 2023!
Bi-Weekly, 10:30 - 11:30 AM

Join us to help monitor pollinator biodiversity in a rewilded meadow on-site using iNaturalist and field-guides. For roughly 100 million years, insects and flowering plants have lived in harmony, with insects transporting nutritious (for them) pollen from plant to plant so that seeds are produces. This ancient symbiotic relationship is essential for human food security and the persistence of all wildlife. Pollinators also support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, and buffer the planet from climate change.  Today these relationships are at risk as pollinators and plants can respond differently to cues from a warming climate. Our community-led monitoring will help to support sensitive and threatened plant and animal species.

We will train stewards to monitor biodiversity using the iNaturalist and Seek apps, the latter is an educational tool designed to train students in species identification and nature journaling without posting to iNaturalist. Participants will learn to make research quality observations. Participants will also take a break from their screens and use field guides and journals to sketch their observations. Once participants are confident at making careful observations and have completed their modules, they can start contributing to the global community and its data repository.

Gather by the covered bike rack/information kiosk in the parking lot.

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