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Catching the Spirit Youth Society

Youth Leadership through Outdoor Experience

CTS Background

Who We Are

Catching the Spirit Youth Society provides youth leadership and community involvement opportunities with a focus on outdoor environmental stewardship activities. It is a free program for youth between the ages of 12 and 18 in the Metro Vancouver region.  Catching the Spirit (CTS) has been offered in collaboration with Metro Vancouver Regional Parks since 2001.

The program is organized for youth by youth.  They are responsible for planning, organizing and leading activities that are now offered year-round. , teaching camp etiquette, and more.  Together, youth learn about each other, their environment, and giving back to their community.  The result?  Activities become a place for youth of different ages and social, cultural, and economic backgrounds to work together, learn from each other, have fun, and give back.  Youth leaders gain unique team building, coaching, and mentoring skills, and all participants return home with a new understanding of each other and their environment.

Practical and hands-on learning experiences are available year-round. In the summer, Catching the Spirit programming includes camping, environmental stewardship projects, the use of technology such as GPS mapping, and creative exercises. In the winter, youth have organized community events, developed the CTS community garden, connected with youth in Africa, and experienced outdoor activities such as snow-shoeing and outdoor camping. All this contributes to a climate that fosters social learning and leadership growth. Through the engagement of youth, the program also contributes thousands of volunteer hours every summer to Metro Vancouver Regional Parks and local communities.


Download the CTS Background Profile.

Download our Annual Report:


Catching the Spirit Youth Society evolved from a pilot project in Pacific Spirit Regional Park in 2001.  However, planning for the program began in 1995 and was a response to a request from youth for a meaningful program to connect them with the park.  The initial members became part of the Pacific Spirit Park Society in 1998, and were comprised of leaders in Scouts, Guides, and other youth organizations, and educators.  With the input of hundreds of Vancouver youth, the core principles of the program became clear.  In 2001, the program was offered for the first time. 

It has continued to be offered each year since then.  Catching the Spirit Youth Society now offers programs in four Regional Parks across Metro Vancouver, engaging over 350 youth each year. 

Program Partners

Catching the Spirit Youth Society delivers its programs in collaboration with:

  • Metro Vancouver Regional District and Metro Vancouver Regional Parks provide significant funding and in-kind support for the planning, delivery, and coordination of Catching the Spirit programs.  Metro Vancouver Regional Parks collaborates with Catching the Spirit Youth Society on all aspects of the program, and also provide locations where the program is delivered.
  • Pacific Parklands Foundation is the major funding coordinator for Catching the Spirit Youth Society, coordinating and providing guidance for all fundraising activities. 

Quick Facts

  • In 2012, CTS youth participated in 12 monthly events focused on community involvement, stewardship and recreation.
  • CTS offers youth-led outdoor camping leadership experiences every weekend throughout the summer (July-August). Programming continues all year with monthly events focused on community involvement, stewardship, and recreation organized by youth-led teams.
  • The Catching the Spirit Ranger Summer Program gives youth the opportunity to become park ambassadors via an afternoon, record and report program.  Activities include mapping the locations of park services and collecting data on park use.
  • Summer programming is offered at four Metro-Vancouver Regional Parks: Pacific Spirit, Burnaby Lake, Tynehead, and Capilano River.
  • In 2012 Catching the Spirit youth volunteered 15,757 hours to give back to their communities and Metro-Vancouver Regional Parks.
  • A new community garden has been created by Catching the Spirit Youth in Burnaby at BCIT.
  • In 2012, Catching the Spirit summer programs were 97% full.  It is expected that participation will remain at capacity for 2013.
  • Catching the Spirit youth led the following teams in 2012: The Youth Council, the international Ubunu Team, and a Winter Excursion Team.


Catching the Spirit Youth Society

Bob Gunn, Executive Director  ph: 604.544.1622
Fiona MacBain, Program Coordinator ph: 604.562.0583

Metro Vancouver Regional Parks

Gudrun Jensen, Visitor and Operations Services Division Manager ph: 604.432.6389

Pacific Parklands Foundation

Joe Hargitt, Executive Director ph: 604.451.6168



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