Gear Galore in Kluane National Park and Reserve!

Gear Galore in Kluane National Park and Reserve!

By Kathy Burden, Parks Canada


Yukon Department of Education staff inventorying the Learn to Camp gear in its new home (credit: Parks Canada).

Building a lending library

It was late winter 2021 when a group of sixth- and seventh-graders from St. Elias Community School in Haines Junction, Yukon, gathered on the shores of Mät’àtäna Mǟn (Kathleen Lake) in Kluane National Park and Reserve.

The lake’s crystalline waters lay quiet and frozen at their feet under a cover of snow. With kicksleds and snowshoes, the students set out for a day of ice fishing, campfire building and other on-the-land learning activities led by Parks Canada and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Land Guardians.

As with every good day, when it came to an end, the students wished it had not. Growing up on the doorstep of an iconic national park, these students weren’t able to spend the night for lack of a classroom set of camping gear.

“Over 4,500 students participate in outdoor education experiences in the Yukon every year, both for day and overnight trips,” says Daniel Ashley, Public Education Outreach Officer with the Yukon Field Unit. “And access to proper equipment can be a major barrier.”

Students from the grade 6/7 class at St. Elias Community School Learning to jig for fish through the ice at Mät’àtäna Mǟn (Kathleen Lake) in Kluane NPR (credit: Parks Canada).

Fast-forward one year and the kids are back at Mät’àtäna Mǟn, this time ready to spend the night thanks to a new gear lending library. A cooperative effort between the Yukon Field Unit, Parks Canada’s Learn to Camp team, and Yukon government’s Department of Education, the gear library provides camping equipment for Yukon schools, Parks Canada programs, and non-profits that work with Yukon youth.

Groups can sign out tents, sleeping bags, thermarests, tarps, and stoves for events that offer Yukon youth opportunities to learn basic camping skills and access on-the-land learning.

“This gear will allow more programs to take place at the sites we manage, especially for small community schools” says Ashley.

Reducing barriers for youth to spend time on the land and learn more about Canada’s cultural and natural heritage gets an A+ from educators and field unit staff – many thanks to the Learn to Camp team for supporting this important initiative!

Students and teachers hit the trails and ski the campground loop in Kluane NPR (credit: Parks Canada)



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