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.

NICOLE MASTRANGELO is a recent Trent University graduate finishing with a degree in Environmental Science/Studies. She is passionate about being outdoors in nature and learning about Earth's different environments and how to continue to keep them thriving. Connecting with youth and broadening their knowledge on a range of subjects and skills is something that she truly enjoys. She has been fortunate to experience this throughout the past four years of being a swim instructor and the opportunity to be an environmental youth educator. She is excited to join the Dogwood Acres team and work within a setting that she know adds so much value to the lives who are a part of this community.


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 70 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 decided to start a Forest School. Our programs will 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 FAQ's page for more information!