High School Study Abroad
Program in Western Canada

Backcountry: The West

Summer 2023

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Program Dates*

Early July — Late August, 2023

Travel Dates

July 8th — August 11th, 2023

*Program dates include online sessions to prepare students prior to travel and synchronous interviews to complete final assessments after travel. Dates are subject to change.


  • Vancouver City
  • Vancouver Island: Tofino
  • Victoria
  • Vancouver Island: South Island Trek
  • Calgary
  • Lake Louise
  • Banff

Courses Offered


Choose One

  • Active Living Leadership | PLF4M
  • Human Dimensions | IDC4U


Choose One

Contact us for course equivalencies in your school board.


9:1 Student to Staff Ratio

Refunds and Cancellation

We've made it easier to plan your education while minimizing your financial risks.


Up to $5,000 in Scholarships Available



Why Take this Program?

If you are passionate about outdoor adventure, mountain hikes, challenging paddles, and testing your GRIT––this trip is for you. Each day you will experience a new adventure and learn skills that will improve your competency in the wild, and become more confident in your ‘own skin.’ Whether cooking your breakfast on an open fire, whale watching along the coast, or roasting a marshmallow to perfection, your senses will come alive. Each day we’ll read deeply from great works of literature, and learn the art of storytelling and creative writing. These ideas and insights are sure to inspire you to write your own self-authoring stories and develop your writing fundamentals that will prepare you for university.

Background Pattern Students together posing
Background Pattern Students posing for photo

What People Are Saying

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MEI was a life changing experience. The teachers were incredible and willing to help with anything, academic or personal. MEI gave me the opportunity to travel to new countries with an amazing group that I know I will have as friends forever.

Kayla Solway

Student, English in Western Europe, 2019

Program Itinerary

Explore this program's detailed itinerary for a sense of the journey ahead!

Students sitting on the steps, journalling
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Online Foundation Work

Program Preparation

Reading lists will be posted on your program site in early May. Online pre-departure sessions with your teachers and classmates begin one week prior to departure. These virtual sessions are designed to introduce you to your classmates, teachers, and course work. Our goal is to prepare you to hit the ground running and reduce your workload onsite.

Plane leaving Toronto
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Day 1: On the day of departure, we meet at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Here, we unite as a group to distribute coursepacks, T-shirts and MEI Journals. After a meet and greet, we board a flight to our first location.

Vancouver harbour
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Days 2 — 6: Vancouver, named after a British explorer in 1792, was a key factor in expanding Canadian trade internationally, and has continued to be Canada’s main link to Asia. Here we experience the fusion of cultures that give you access to some of the finest food on the planet. The art and food scene, mixed with luxury window-shopping keep us busy in the evenings. During the day we bike in Stanley Park, and participate in scavenger hunts in Yaletown, Granville Island, and Gastown. You will also have a chance to explore the University of British Columbia’s campus and spend a relaxing afternoon on Jericho Beach. Just outside the city, we connect with the outdoors with a day of kayaking and hiking at Deep Cove near Mount Seymour. Our academic studies ramp up with discussions about what you hope to experience and learn from our adventures, while teachers help prepare you for major assignments. On our final night, our crew will perform podcasts showcasing your creative pieces while enjoying an outstanding meal at one of the many fine restaurants in Vancouver.

Vancouver Island Coastline
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Vancouver Island: Tofino

Days 6 — 10: Headed to the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, we depart Vancouver on a ferry and change gears while preparing for our first camping adventure. Residing in Long Beach, our campsites are nestled among old-growth rainforests connected to coastal trails that reveal a cornucopia of biodiversity and hidden inlet beaches. Here we will introduce you to the basics of camp setup, canoeing, and outdoor cooking. Teams are formed and our crew will gain strength. Being mentored by some of the best guides and teachers in Canada is an extraordinary opportunity to step up your game and engage in life at a higher level. Close to our campsite is Tofino, the Surf Capital of Canada. After we gear up with surfboards and wetsuits, our local expert instructors provide two afternoons of lessons to introduce us to the west coast waves. As a reprieve from our daily activities, we continue to expand our culinary skills and learn how to cook fish tacos, vegetarian curries, and fresh local salmon dishes. One evening we'll kayak in the world-famous Clayoquot Sound waters to watch an unforgettable sunset. Meanwhile, our English program will focus on the legends and stories of the First Nations in preparation for an evening podcast.

Victoria Parliment Building
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Days 10 — 14: On our journey to Victoria, we stop to hike in Cathedral Grove, where the First Nation's people have preserved giant Douglas firs for thousands of years. Here, we examine the stories behind these Big Trees' healing and spiritual powers and discuss this endangered ecosystems' future. As we arrive at the old Victoria Harbour, our first adventure will be to recharge in our new residence and take a leisurely walk along the waterfront. This city is renowned for its eclectic and outstanding culinary choices––after five days of camping, we'll be ready for a feast. As we delve into our academic readings, we utilize the surrounding cafes, parks, and beaches for workshops and personal tutorial sessions. We also have time to explore the University of Victoria campus and enjoy the harbourfront music scene. This city is teeming with adventure hikes, bike paths, and serene kayak paddles, which is well-suited for this leg of our West Coast adventure.

Vancouver Island forests
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Vancouver Island: South Island Trek

Days 14 — 18: Summer will be in its full glory as we head out on our south island hike of the Juan de Fuca Marine trail. The 47 km hike will be divided into three days, where we reside at campsites of Mystic, Bear, Chin, and Sombrio Beaches. This trail is a renowned pilgrimage for many outdoor enthusiasts, and an ideal route to test our skills. You will learn how to travel lean, so that we can test our grit, yet have enough energy to set up camp and enjoy a campfire podcast performance on the beach. Sleep comes easy as the cool nights, warm campfires, and the expectations of another day of grand exploration nurture the soul.

Fly to Calgary Airport on Day 18

Calgary Skyline
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Days 18 — 21: At the crack of dawn, we break camp and begin our journey to Calgary. After settling into our apartments, we dust ourselves off and dress up for a night out at a fine restaurant to regale each other with insights from our recent experiences. For a few days, we will enjoy the comforts and sites of Alberta's capital city and its surroundings. In our free time we'll explore all that downtown Calgary has to offer.

Lake Louise
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Lake Louise

Days 21 — 24: Our next location will get your heart pumping, and your soul soaring. We will spend three nights camping in Yoho National Park. As we settle into our basecamp, it will get busy as we set up tents and campfires, and prep for a good ol’ fashioned cookout! Each day we examine the diversity of the forests, rock formations, and wildlife as we ascend the Rockies and form new bonds with our crew. A foundational part of this program and the English course is completing a daily self-authoring program. There is no better way to craft your writing skills than writing about a topic you know the best—YOU!. Over the years, MEI’s personal morning notes have become a profound takeaway for all students. Here you will find the time and space to develop your voice and the words to express your past, present and future story. When you’re out in the wild, it never stops, but planning and focusing your energies every day will become a fluid dance once you get into the rhythm. With a big appetite, we’ll enjoy our first gourmet camp-style meal and a relaxing afternoon before an English podcast presentation under the stars.

Exploring Banff
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Days 24 — 28: At sunrise, we break camp and begin our journey to Canada's first national park and one of the world's premier destinations. Staying in Lake O'Hara, This hidden gem, with its unparalleled views, is home to exquisite hanging valleys, jewel-blue lakes and breathtaking vistas. We connect to the surroundings and take epic day hikes in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies and serene evening paddles in scenic lakes that shine brilliant blue. Canoe trips in the backcountry help us settle into nature's rhythm, and in this close-knit environment, we'll share creative ideas that have emerged from our travels to Western Canada. After an evening of stories by the campfire, and one last podcast, we will wake at the crack of dawn to make our way to the Calgary International Airport and head for home.

Fly from Calgary Airport on Day 28

Studying for Finals
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Online Final Evaluation Week

Upon your return, you have time to complete additional research and pull your work together before your final one-on-one online assessment. This week allows you to reflect on your travel experiences and integrate them into the course material. MEI staff have found this style of evaluation enjoyable and the most authentic way for students to demonstrate their knowledge and academic skills.




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lake louise


What's Included

Fee Breakdown

Program Costs

  • Ministry-approved credit(s) upon successful completion of the course(s)
  • Custom course pack
  • Student Login
  • MEI journal
  • MEI T-Shirt
  • Digital yearbook

Travel Costs

  • Hotels and accommodations
  • Breakfast and dinner daily
  • Entrance fees to all course-specific sites
  • Return airfare from Toronto's Pearson International Airport
  • Approximate airline departure taxes, surcharges and fees
  • Airfare between countries
  • Transportation between hotel locations via private coach
  • Transportation for all listed program excursions

Program Fee Does Not Include

  • Lunches
  • Insurances
  • Gratuities
  • Local Transportation
  • Course texts
  • Medical Insurance and Cancellation Protection†
  • Non-refundable $95 Registration Fee

† All students travelling with MEI Academy are required to purchase Medical Insurance.

**Program cost does not include non-refundable $95 registration fee or any airline taxes or fees. Please note the possibility of increases in airfares and land costs prior to departure. Any increase must be borne by the individual participant.

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