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A Glimpse into the 2023 Breath of Fresh Air Outdoor Play Summit


Read about the inspiring three-day summit and ideas from thought leaders, practitioners, researchers, and policy makers dedicated to advancing outdoor play and learning in Canada. Discover resources and projects shared by educators  Learn about  the Forest Explorers building – home of the Canadian Centre for Outdoor Play:

Mallory Donaldson (she, her), RECE
Canadian Centre for Outdoor Play Fellow
Outdoor Play Canada

From September 27-29, 2023, Outdoor Play Canada hosted the (sold-out!) Breath of Fresh Air (BoFA) Outdoor Play Summit. This inspiring three-day summit brought together thought leaders, practitioners, researchers, and policy makers dedicated to advancing outdoor play and learning in Canada. Held at the beautiful Wesley Clover Parks Campground in Ottawa, ON, the summit was a remarkable success, creating lasting memories and powerful connections.

Attendees from across Canada gathered for three days of inspiring talks, workshops, and outdoor activities on how research, policy, and practice may promote and shape the future of outdoor play in Canada and abroad.

A Peek into BoFA 2023

  • The theme for the 2023 summit was ‘Research, policy, and practice – their intersections for the promotion of outdoor play’. Attendees from across Canada gathered for three days of inspiring talks, workshops, and outdoor activities on how research, policy, and practice may promote and shape the future of outdoor play in Canada and abroad. Check out the summary slideshow here.
Breath of Fresh Air

Unforgettable Moments at BoFA

  • With over 200 attendees, BoFA fostered an atmosphere of camaraderie and a shared commitment to promoting, protecting, and preserving outdoor play for all. While there were so many highlights, here are a few of our favourites:
  • The Speed-Greeting: Echoed by attendees, the ‘speed greeting’ through the outdoor exhibit area was a hit! This event allowed participants to meet the array of poster presenters and booth hosts in 2-minute bites. Attendees could then revisit stations for more in-depth engagement during the scheduled exhibit time. The Speed-Greeting will serve as a lasting reminder of the summit’s vibrant energy.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Participants embarked on an exciting scavenger hunt, exploring the Ottawa Forest and Nature School (OFNS) site where children learn and play outdoors on the daily. This interactive experience allowed attendees to connect with each other and nature, while learning about the innovative OFNS program.
  • The outdoor movie night screening of Take It Outside: Beyond Classroom Walls under the starry Ontario sky, preceded by a #NatureForAll themed storytelling session, which wrapped-up the first Summit day.
  • The Beaver Lodge: Attendees were enthralled to join in on the artful construction of a beaver lodge in the campgrounds with Trevor Zahara from PeakPlay Consulting. The den served as an interactive exhibit, offering a unique space for reflection and connection with the natural world.
  • Healing Circle: Norma and Doris Peltier held a profound and emotional healing circle acknowledging National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and invited attendees to share their personal stories and experiences related to the transformative power of outdoor play.
  • Unveiling of the Forest Explorers building – home of the Canadian Centre for Outdoor Play: while the building is still under construction, Kim Hiscott, Executive Director of Andrew Fleck Children’s Services gave a brief overview of the design and intention of the space before leading attendees over to the construction site for a group photo!
  • The summit also featured captivating talks, workshops, and outdoor adventures – from discussions on advancing outdoor play and rethinking early childhood education programs to nature-based learning and play as a tool for reconciliation, the range of topics covered was both insightful and invigorating.

Join Us at the 2025 BoFA Summit

  • As we wrap up the 2023 BoFA Summit, we look forward to even more exciting events on the horizon. In 2025, OPC will launch the 10-year anniversary of the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play. It promises to be a grand celebration of a decade of progress in advancing outdoor play and learning. Mark your calendars!
  • Follow OPC on social media (Facebook/Twitter/Threads/Instagram): @OutdoorPlayCA and stay tuned for updates/announcements as we prepare for the 2025 BoFA Outdoor Play Summit and other initiatives along the way.
  • Thank you to our 2023 BoFA attendees, speakers, posters presenters, booth hosts, OPC staff, volunteers and sponsors for contributing to another successful summit. See you in 2025!

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