Introducing the Ontario Children's Outdoor Charter
The Ontario Children's Outdoor Charter is an awareness initiative that encourages children to get outdoors to explore nature and discover Ontario's rich biodiversity by participating in 12 recommended activities.
You can visit the Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter website to download and print:
- the charter
- an activity-tracking passport for kids
- a poster to share with friends and family
Related Ontario Programs
Ontario proudly supports the charter with a broad variety of programs and resources to introduce children and their families to the charter’s 12 activities.
Follow a trail
- Find a local trail for walking, hiking, cycling, ATV riding, skiing, or snowmobiling using the Ontario Trail Network map. There are over 80,000 km of trails to discover, including many that are accessible.
- Explore 2,000 km of trails at Ontario Parks, on your own, with a guide, or via an MP3 audio trail guide. Search for a trail program in a park near you. Be sure to always check the park opening and closing dates.
Build an outdoor fort
- Build a fort in your own backyard with found sticks and blankets from home – let your imagination guide you.
- For a more formal experience, visit Quetico Provincial Park to learn how to build a quinzhee or igloo.
Explore a park
- Every neighbourhood has a park, creek or field that you can explore. Find a patch of green and marvel at nature’s resourcefulness.
- Step into nature at one of Ontario’s 270 conservation areas.
- Ontario has more than 330 provincial parks. Find a park near you and enrich your experience by participating in a natural heritage education program. Parkbus also runs an express bus service to key outdoor destinations in Ontario during the spring and summer.
Camp under the stars
- Choose your camping style: remote backcountry spots, comfortable group campgrounds with showers and flush toilets, or roofed accommodations like cabins and yurts. Ontario Parks has it all. Reserve your campsite online or by phone.
- Check into the Ontario Parks Learn to Camp program for online tips and checklists, community training events, and guided overnight trips (complete with camping gear.) An advanced program allows Learn to Camp graduates to build on their new skills.
- Read our tips for fishing and learn how to gear up for your fishing trip. Download our Take a Kid Fishing booklet to plan your fishing fun.
- Borrow a rod, reel and tackle at many Ontario Parks.
- Learn about year-round fishing opportunities, licensing requirements and best practices.
- Get hooked with our Learn to Fish program.
- Enjoy licence-free family fishing on Family Day weekend in February and during Family Fishing week in July.
Play in the snow
- Sample winter fun in a park or place not far from home, like downhill tubing and sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and outdoor skating. At Arrowhead Provincial Park, you can try it all with onsite equipment rentals.
- Check the Ontario Parks Ski Trail Report for snow conditions at the 20 provincial parks that offer cross-country skiing.
Harvest something to eat
- Sample nature’s bounty at a pick-your-own farm.
- Find out if there are any community gardens near you and learn how your neighbours are growing their own food.
- Plant your own container garden and then go to Foodland Ontario’s Kids’ Corner for recipes and ideas.
- Pour on the maple syrup at the Bronte Creek and Killbear sugar shacks each March.
Visit a farm
- Pay a visit to a local farm to see how animals are raised, explore a corn maze, and talk to the farmer who feeds you. Check out Kid Fun On the Farm on OntarioTravel.net.
- Visit Loucks Farm at historical Upper Canada Village where heritage livestock is raised, and food is cultivated using the traditional farming techniques of the 1860s.
Swim in a lake
- Take a dip at a sandy beach or rocky shoreline. With approximately 250,000 lakes in Ontario, you’re bound to find a lake you like — or a dozen!
- Stay safe while you swim by renting a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) available at many provincial parks.
Paddle a canoe
- Paddle the same canoe routes used by the early fur traders, and Aboriginal peoples before them, in Quetico, French River, and Samuel de Champlain provincial parks.
- Use the Park Locator search engine to find out which provincial parks rent canoes and PFDs (lifejackets) – as well as kayaks, bicycles, cross-country skis, and more!
Observe plants and wildlife
- Use the Tree Atlas to identify neighbourhood trees, or participate in a tree planting.
- Read our tips for Watching Wildlife in Ontario.
- See what’s in bloom at the Royal Botanical Gardens.
- Find a butterfly conservatory near you and marvel at the sights – or plant a butterfly garden and bring them to you.
- Pop into any Ontario Parks visitors centre for checklists of wildlife you might encounter, and news of recent park sightings. You can post your finds, too!
Create an outdoor adventure
- Choose your own adventure at OntarioTravel.net’s Family Fun Calendar and idea bank.
- Volunteer for a local stewardship project to protect species at risk or restore natural habitats. Work together as a family to conserve Ontario’s rich biodiversity.
- Travel back 100 years to journey through a day in the life of a logger at the Algonquin Park Logging Museum Trail.
Partners in Development
The charter was developed through the collaboration of nine governmental and non-governmental organizations. The steering committee included:
- Ministry of Natural Resources (co-lead)
- Back to Nature Network (co-lead)
- Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport
- Royal Botanical Gardens
- Parks and Recreation Ontario
- Fish and Wildlife Heritage Commission
- Kid Active
- Ontario Nature
- Biodiversity Education and Awareness Network
The charter will be co-ordinated by the Biodiversity Education and Awareness Network (BEAN).