Run WYLD Scholarship

The Run WYLD Scholarship

Run WYLD is an initiative to create more accessible outdoor opportunities for underserved youth living in remote communities.

Funds directly support youth from School District 84 (Gold River, Tahsis, Zeballos, and Kyuquot) in attending 5-12 day Wilderness Youth Leadership Development Programs at SPL. 

In the spirit of adventure, Sophie O’Brien raises awareness for this project through her long distance running. 

Continue reading to learn more about this project and to make a donation. 

Run WYLD Story

In 2020, Sophie O’Brien created this project from a passion to support youth. With a background in Child and Youth Care Sophie works as SPL’s Program Manager. She recognized the direct impact that adventure and opportunities spent in nature has in supporting the overall wellbeing and development of youth.  Sophie saw a gap for certain populations when it came to accessing outdoor adventure and education opportunities and continues to make steps to create equitable access for youth living in remote communities. 

In 2021, Sophie ran her first marathon from Myra Falls to Strathcona Park Lodge, in 2022 she ran from Gold River to Strathcona Park Lodge and in 2023 ran from Gold River to Tahsis. Each year, raising money to send 5 youth from SD84 to a WYLD camp at SPL. With the strong support of donors, in 2021 Sophie exceeded her goal of $6000 dollars and raised just over $6400.

To date, the Run WYLD project has raised over $20,000 dollars and sent 15 youth to WYLD camps. 

The Ripple Effects

The Run WYLD project’s main goal is to create opportunities for underserved youth to access wilderness based programming. By working towards creating community connections, decreasing barriers, and opening doors to new experiences there is a capacity to create larger ripple effects for these youth, communities, and the people donating/participating in this project.  

“Given the remoteness of these communities, it is rare for youth to get opportunities to interact with different students and meet new people. Social events often take place in the form of potlatch or other Nuu-Chah-Nulth gatherings that bring together a large extended family, or district events like sports tournaments that perhaps happen once or twice a year. Exposure to youth from unfamiliar communities with diverse backgrounds doesn’t happen all that much. The opportunity to participate in an SPL camp, and interact with new faces would be a huge opportunity! The students are curious and eager to make connections but rarely get the chance to do so.” -Monique Comeau, Former Vice Principal of the Nootka Sound Outdoor Program 

Scholarship Information

Sophie’s goal to establish a Run WYLD Scholarship would provide continuity for the youth in these communities to access these programs year after year. Sophie is seeking donors who would like to be involved in keeping this vision and opportunities alive. 

Who does this Scholarship Benefit

Youth from the Vancouver Island West School District in the communities of Gold River, Kyuquot, Tahsis, and Zeballos. Participants come from the following schools: 

  • Ray Watkins Elementary School
  • Gold River Secondary School
  • Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School
  • Captain Meares Elementary Secondary School
  • Zeballos Elementary Secondary School
How are youth selected for the Run WYLD Program

Students are selected by school staff and community members based on the following criteria: 

  • a youth who might not otherwise be able to access these programs.
  • a youth who could benefit from an outdoor leadership experience.
  • a youth who could gain a positive experience from meeting new people and broadening their horizons.

Make a Donation

A donation towards the Run WYLD scholarship makes it possible for youth from SD84 to engage in WYLD programs free of charge. Strathcona Park Lodge has made an annual commitment to the scholarship by subsidizing the cost of WYLD camps by 20% for each Run WYLD participant. All proceeds will directly support youth from School District 84 (Gold River, Tahsis, Zeballos, and Kyuquot) in attending 5-12 day Wilderness Youth Leadership Development Programs at SPL.

Cost Breakdown:

WYLD camps are for different ages, duration and cost. The average cost for a WYLD camp after SPL’s 20% subsidy and GST is $1185. A donation of this amount would fund 1 Run WYLD youth! 

How to make a donation to Run WYLD Scholarship fund: 


Cheque Addressed to: Strathcona Park Lodge Ltd. 

*Please indicate your donation is for the Run WYLD Scholarship fund. 

Thank you Donors

This project would not be possible without each of the generous donors. The amount of support has been incredible. It is because of each one of your donations that youth have been able to have these experiences and create long-lasting memories. Opening doors, creates space for people to feel seen and feel that they too have the autonomy to choose where they would like their story to lead them. You are all a part of making this possible! 

Corporate Donors

  • Cantec Fire Alarms 
  • GC Engineering Ltd. 
  • Sysco Canada
  • Green Island Builders 

Fundraising Support 

  • PKOLS Fall Classic 2023 Runners 
  • On the Rock Climbing Gym Gear Swap Fundraiser 


Run WYLD Documentary – Coming Soon. 

Produced by Far North Visuals 

Articles in the Campbell River Mirror


Run WYLD Events

PKOLS Fall Classic, November 2023

Gold River to Tahsis, June 4 2023 

Gold River to Strathcona Park Lodge, June 5 2022 

Myra Falls to Strathcona Park Lodge, June 5 2021



WYLD Camps

Wilderness Youth Leadership Development (WYLD) expeditions are 5-12 day long summer camps for youth, ages 12-17. Participants travel into the wilderness playground that is Strathcona Provincial Park. Along the way they canoe, hike, camp beneath the stars, learn skills to navigate in the backcountry, and create lasting connections. Through these authentic experiences participants learn about themselves and their surroundings. Our goal is that WYLD participants will return home with the awareness that they are both capable and resilient. Along with a drive to acquire new skills, gain an appreciation for the natural world, and go after what they believe in.  

Learn More