Tundra Science and Culture Camp

Think about applying this summer!

  • Spend 10 action-packed and fun-filled days on the tundra!

  • Work closely with scientists

  • Learn from Tlicho elders their way of knowing the land and traditional skills

  • Experience field research techniques in ecology, botany, geology, archeology, biology, birds, fish and more

  • Learn about the land

  • Share with other students. Learn together and from each other

What is Tundra Science and Culture Camp?

Tundra Science and Culture Camp (TSCC) is a summer outdoor environmental education program for high school students and teachers in the Northwest Territories (NWT). The program runs from July - August at Daring Lake. Students work closely with a variety of instructors including scientists, environmental educators, on-site researchers and Tlicho elders. The focus is on learning about the land from both scientific and Indigenous perspectives.

At the TSCC, students learn about field research methods in wildlife biology, geology, archaeology, aquatic ecology, traditional knowledge, and the Tlicho language. Students also learn about decision-making and resource management using real-life examples in this diamond mining region.

Who can participate?

Up to sixteen high school students and three teachers are accepted at Tundra Science and Culture Camp annually. Preference is given to students who have completed Science 10 or the equivalent. Selection criteria includes a recommendation from the school liaison.

What about French programming?

According to an agreement between Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) and  the Commission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest (CSFTNO), ENR promotes a “French milieu” camp every 3rd year. This means there are six spaces reserved for francophone or French immersion applicants. However, this does not prevent English-only speakers from attending. Instruction will be given in English, as that is the capacity of most of our instructors. However, a critical mass of French-speaking students may foster more conversation in French, and instructors will focus on sharing French vocabulary in addition to Tlicho language learning.

When is it?

Participants leave Yellowknife for Daring Lake by Twin Otter float plane in July and return to Yellowknife in August.

Who are the program staff?

Tlicho elders, environmental educators from the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), professional scientists, resource managers, and a great cooking team.

What will I learn?

Tundra Science and Culture Camp gives participants exposure to tundra ecology, natural history and human history. Participants will:

  • Get hands-on experience with field techniques in wildlife research, archaeological surveys, botanical sampling, environmental monitoring, aquatic studies and geology.
  • Learn traditional skills and knowledge from Tlicho elders.
  • Learn to make connections among the different ways of knowing about the land.
  • Learn from on-site university researchers about ongoing projects.
  • Conduct their own small-scale project in an area of special interest and share with peers.

Instruction sessions always involve on-the-land activities. Staff mentor and assist in all aspects.

There is also plenty of opportunity for recreational activities, including swimming, hiking, photography, storytelling and games.

What is the facility like?

Tundra Science Camp is held at the Tundra Ecosystem Research Station located on Daring Lake, 300 km north of Yellowknife. Access is by float plane in summer. The station was established in 1994 by GNWT Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).

Facilities include insulated tents for sleeping, dining, washing, lectures and laboratory work. A dock and a beach provide access to the lake. The station is a model camp designed with the latest in energy and waste reduction technology. It is powered primarily with solar and wind power, and completely enclosed by an electric wire fence to deter wildlife from entering the camp.

A satellite telephone is available for emergency communications. Several of the program staff are qualified to administer first-aid and CPR.

What is the environment like?

This remote tundra region is home to wildlife such as barren-ground caribou, barren-ground grizzly, tundra wolves, arctic and red fox, wolverine, arctic hare, arctic ground squirrels, peregrine falcons, yellow-billed loon and many other bird species.

The climate is semi-arid, with short cool summers (potentially lots of biting insects!). Numerous lakes are found in this rolling region of the Canadian Shield. The most recent glaciation occurred about 10,000 years ago, leaving an extensive network of eskers and other landforms on the tundra. The region is treeless and supports typical southern arctic vegetation such as dwarf birch, willow, numerous showy plants, grasses and sedges.

What does it cost?

TSCC is subsidized by grants and contributions from the Government of the Northwest Territories Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), and Education, Culture and Employment (ECE), the NWT Geoscience Office, participating school boards and Indigenous governments. Other partners are the Wek’èezhìı Renewable Resources Board, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Government of Northwest Territories and Wilfrid Laurier University Partnership.

Each student must fundraise $300 to attend. This fee pays for a small portion of the cost of the program, including return air transportation from Yellowknife to Daring Lake, all meals, and accommodation. Payment is due upon confirmation of acceptance to the program.

What should I bring?

Here's an equipment and clothing list to help you make sure you're comfortable and prepared.

How can I apply?

Students, talk to your science teacher to apply and fill out the student application form. Teachers, fill out the teacher application form.

Or, contact ENR's On the Land Unit for an application form: by email at ontheland@gov.nt.ca or by phone at (867) 767-9232 ext. 53052.

Students and teachers must submit application forms to be accepted.