What: Downsview Park is a former Air Force base that was decommissioned in 1995. The base has been converted into a park that combines a number of land uses including an urban farming, indoor and outdoor play fields, storm water management, walking paths and natural areas. There are also a number of former Air Force buildings rented to third party activities.
The Discover Center is the lower floor of a converted administration building, with two classrooms, washrooms and a cloak room. The classrooms contain a large touch table and a number of nature related activities which the Guides were encouraged by the program facilitator to explore as they arrived and at lunch. There is also a large aviation themed playground across the parking lot.
The Community Field Trips are 90 minutes in length and you have a choice of a half day program including one activity or a full day program including 2 activities and a lunch break. They have a wide variety of activities to choose from some of which are limited by time of year and some would suit some age groups better then others. We selected Wonderful World of Trees and Compass Challenge.
In Wonderful World of Trees, the girls were taught tricks for identifying trees in the winter. Then we went outside to one of the walking trails where the girls were split into small groups. Each group was provided with a clip board, work sheet and tree guide and they were allowed to wonder though the paths at their own rate finding trees marked with numbers and trying to identify them. Our Guides did great with most groups successfully identify most of the trees they found.
In Compass Challenge the girls were taught the basics of taking bearings with a compass and then played an outdoor game where they had to use their compass to solve codes.
With both programs we were really impressed both with the teaching methods used by the facilitator and at how absorbed our Guides were in the activities.
When: Our program was in April 2019.
Cost: The Community Program was $10 per girl for a full day (2 activities) or $7 per girls for a half day (1 activity).
Booking: Booking was very straight forward and was conducted though an online form and follow up e-mails.
For more information see: https://en.downsviewpark.ca/educate/community-field-trips
Note: The road to get to the Discover Center is a little bit hard to find but all our parents reported no problem finding the place with the assistance of a GPS unit. Also note that the area around the Discovery Center can be a bit windy.