About Us

Our Vision

We aspire to promote and facilitate the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development of children through meaningful interactions in the natural environment. Through exploration, inquiry, reflection and community building we strive to create a positive learning environment that promotes achievement and development of lifelong skills.

Our Goals

  • Reconnect children with nature through play, inquiry, and exploration
  • Encourage healthy active living
  • Promote environmental awareness and appreciation
  • Develop strong collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills
  • Offer low student to adult ratios allowing for mentorship and student-led learning

Who We Are

BRAD GRAVES is a teacher with the Durham District School Board. His involvement in educating youth reaches far beyond the school environment through swim and ski instruction and coaching, as well as being a camp counselor and now Coordinator for Dogwood Acres Camp. Brad's love of sports, sense of adventure, and the outdoors has provided the perfect combination of interests to develop and teach within the outdoor setting.

MICHELLE GRAVES is a teacher with the Durham Catholic District School Board and has worked as a summer camp counselor and facilitator throughout her high school and post-secondary years. She is passionate about working with youth and increasing their awareness of the environment by simply spending time in the outdoors and reconnecting with nature. She is an advocate for ongoing learning, positive character development, and youth leadership. Michelle is excited to share her love for the environment and for learning and exploring with youth of all ages at camp and now all year long at Dogwood Acres Forest School.

LORI MEZZAVILLA has a a passion and enthusiasm for the natural world and is constantly looking to explore and learn more about the environment. She completed her undergraduate degree in Geography where she focused her studies in physical geography and natural science and went on to complete her teaching degree with Niagara University. From a young age she has been inspired by passionate teachers who exemplified what it means to bring learning to life and she aspires to do the same. She is eager to share her excitement and passion for the natural world by educating youth in a fun and hands-on way.

MILA HAYNOS-OWEN has a Masters Degree in Communication and has been involved in teaching for over 25 years. Experiential learning as well as living books are her passion followed by environmental studies and the arts. After guiding her own three children through 14 years of homeschooling, Mila is excited to continue the journey of nurturing young explorers on a path of learning, discovery and adventure in the beautiful forest school environment. When not in the forest, Mila tends to her family eco-lavender farm (Lavender-Blu), and is a member of the Scugog Arts supporting, growing and promoting a variety of local art events.


Dogwood Acres has been operating as a Summer Day Camp for over 10 years and has provided exceptional swimming, leadership and environmental awareness training. It began as a small venture offering swimming lessons to children during the summer who soon expressed interest in wanting to stay and play in our 57 acres of private park which has mixed forests, creeks, and ponds. Our camp program has transformed over the years with current enrolment of approximately 55 campers per day.

As the number of environmental and outdoor education programs have grown and the need and importance for nature-based learning is recognized, Dogwood Acres has started a Forest School. Our programs operate throughout the school year and are intended to complement and enhance the development of your child and his/her learning experience. Check out our Programs page & FAQ's page for more information!