Quality outdoor & environmental education through traditional indigenous knowledge, modern skills, respect, and intimate connection to the natural world.



A typical schedule
At a 28 day West Coast Outdoor Leadership Training Course


What can you expect when you sign up for Hooksum's West Coast Outdoor Leadership Training?


This course truly offers experiences and lessons that will last a lifetime. Taking place in Hesquiaht Harbour, the traditional territory of Hooksum’s owners and operators, this course offers 28 days of living and learning outside! The course begins when you are picked up by a traditional dugout cedar canoe and brought to shore. The course continues with learning skills in sea kayaking, canoeing, surfing, and wilderness first aid. All month long you learn to connect to your natural surroundings, you learn about weather systems, tides, traditional foods, and history. This course offers more than outdoor skills, certifications and experience, it offers an approach to learning based on connecting to the land, the water, the history - making it impossible to forget. – Estella Charleson

Just as we cannot predict the exact weather conditions that your session will experience, we cannot predict exactly what your group will look like, where the participants will come from, and what their interests will be. This is one of the great things about West Coast Outdoor Leadership Training! Every session brings something new. You might be working alongside a participant from northern BC, a surfer from Tofino, local Nuu-chah-nulth people, and someone from downtown Vancouver. Our participants come in all shapes and sizes from all different backgrounds!

And the west coast weather? There are skills to be learned and fun to be had in all different west coast weather conditions.

West Coast Outdoor Leadership Training is 28 days outdoors. In some programs, you learn about the outdoors from inside a classroom; you talk about kayaking and surfing from the comforts of a heated room. Not at Hooksum! At Hooksum, outdoor school means outdoor school.

Each session of West Coast Outdoor
Leadership Training includes:

  • 7 days (50 hours) of Wilderness First Responder

The Red Cross Wilderness First Responder course is designed to teach advanced first aid techniques for sustaining life, preventing further injuries, and caring for illnesses and injuries until the next level of medical personnel arrives. The course is taught by a certified Red Cross First Responder Instructor or Emergency Medical Responder Instructor.

Certification is good for 3 years (First Responder) and includes CPR Level HCP and AED.

  • 6.5 days of sea kayak courses

Rescue skills trainning“The Paddle Canada Sea Kayak courses result in nationally recognized certifications. The skill levels begin with an introduction to sea kayaking and follow through to development of the skills and knowledge necessary for safe sea kayak touring along Canada's open sea coasts and freshwater shorelines.

Paddle Canada Sea Kayaking Skills Introduction to Kayaking and Level I courses teach the skills and knowledge for proficient kayaking in calm and moderate seas in sheltered and moderately exposed coastline.

The Paddle Canada Sea Kayaking Level II course provides the skills and knowledge for proficient kayaking in moderate conditions, and on overnight trips along a moderately exposed shore with frequent easy landing opportunities.”

  • 6.5 days of lifesaving courses

Earn Lifesaving Society certified Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross certifications while learning and practicing your swimming and rescue skills in the waters of Hesquiaht Harbour. Gain confidence and refine your abilities in real life water activities like surfing.


  • An overnight hike/paddle
  • Opportunity to go on a 24-hour solo
  • Maritime Radio Course

At the end of this Canadian Power & Sail Squadron course, participants will be permitted to write the examination for their Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime). Successful completion of the course and exam certifies you to operate VHF, MF and HF Marine Band radios. Certification is required by law for those who operate marine radios.

Hiking oportunities

Steve Charleson points out a culturally modified tree


  • Surfing in various locations in the Hesquiaht area
  • Hiking some of the coastline of Hesquiaht Harbour

  • Learning about the Hesquiaht people and Hesquiaht traditional territories

Hear Hesquiaht stories and histories. Take part in learning activities such as forest walks to identify culturally modified trees and trips to gather seafood and edible plants.

Hooksum - An Experience Like No Other




email: info@hooksumschool.com
Hooksum Outdoor School, Hesquiat Harbour, PO Box 352, Tofino, BC, Canada V0R 2Z0