Follow the steps below to plan and book your trip to BMSC
Step 1. Familiarize yourself with program availability, costs, and allowable group size.
The BMSC field trip program calendar is divided into two terms; Fall and Spring.
- Fall: early September to the end of November
- Spring: early February to the 3rd week of May.
Check our availability calendar.
Click on the booking to find out arrival and departure times of groups.
Please contact us before booking if the desired timing of your visit overlaps when we have 80 or more visitors scheduled.
The program is available to groups of all types and interests. While our most common field trip groups are university and high school classes, we also host grades 5-8 elementary school groups, French first language and immersion schools, First Nations youth, seniors, and clubs such as Girl Guides, naturalists, or photography enthusiasts.
|Peak season pricing
Sept. 1 – Oct. 23
mid April – mid May
|Low season pricing
Fall: Oct 24 – Nov 30
Spring: Feb 1 – mid April
|Elementary & High School
|University, College, & Adult
ROOM & BOARD:
|M/V Alta charter:
(plus Alta fuel surcharge $26.25/hr)
M/V Barkley Star charter:
(plus Barkley Star fuel surcharge $37.50/hr)
Elementary and High School groups, check out our bursary options
We can handle groups as small as 20 and as large as 48; the ideal group size is 24 including teachers or chaperones. Our programs revolve around boats where capacity is 12 passengers, so groups of 11 students plus one teacher/chaperone work best. We prefer groups slightly under or equal, rather than slightly over multiples of twelve. For example, 22 people still fit in two boats, but 25 people do not, and the trip then becomes less cost efficient when a third boat trip must be added.
If all this sounds good, go to Step 2. Application Deadlines; otherwise explore the following for troubleshooting tips.
Due to limited resources at this busy, shared-use facility, the maximum group size that BMSC can normally accommodate is 48 people. It is our experience that groups larger than 48 do not allow for an optimum learning experience. Requests can still be made for larger groups, and we will accommodate them if resources allow, however, we may require more flexibility on the dates of your visit. ‘Peak season’ trip dates may not be available to oversized groups.
If your group size is between 10 and 20 people, and you have flexible booking dates, we still recommend that you submit a booking request. Some teachers also work around low enrollment by opening the trip up to students from other grades, or even a neighboring school.
Step 2: Application deadlines
- Fall Term (September – November): December 21
- Spring Term (February – mid-May): May 31
If this all sounds good, go to “Step 3: Submit a formal booking request“, otherwise explore the following for troubleshooting tips.
If the application deadline has passed, this means that the calendar for the term has been created and we have already confirmed trip dates for other groups. You can check our online availability calendar and get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 250-728-3301 x 226 to find out if there are still dates available. If trip dates are available, see Step 3 for how to submit a formal booking request. If space is not available for your preferred dates, we maintain an active waiting list for each term and will fit you in as cancellations are made.
We cannot book trips with less than 6 weeks lead time, even if our calendar shows space available.
Submit a booking request anyway. A deposit is eventually required to secure your spot, but there is still time to gauge interest and confirm attendance before the deposit is due. Deposits are refundable if cancellations are made three months in advance of your scheduled trip dates. We cannot continue to reserve a spot for you if we have not received your payment by the deposit deadline. (See 5.4 regarding cancellations)
Deposits for Spring Term due: October 31st
Deposits for Fall Term due: May 10th
Step 3: Submit a formal booking request.
The Booking Request form is easy to fill out, but the most important bits of information to include are:
- 3 possible trip date options, in order of preference. If your trip dates are flexible, you may supply us with date ranges.
- The total number of participants, including chaperones. It is important to consider this number carefully, as we may not be able to increase it at a later date. This is also the number we will use to calculate your deposit payment amount (more details about paying a deposit in Step 5).
- University courses are given first priority in choosing dates for field trips.
- School groups of 20 to 48 people who have submitted their booking request before the deadline will be given second priority.
- School groups larger than 48 people or smaller than 20 people will be given third priority, and will only be allowed to visit if space and resources allow.
- Groups who lack participation, demonstrate unfit behaviour, or lack supervision will be assigned a low priority.
Step 4: Confirmation of your booking request
- Spring booking letters are sent in June.
- Fall booking letters are sent in January.
Other booking letters go out as soon as possible.
You will receive an e-mail containing four attachments:
- The official confirmation letter, which outlines dates of your trip, trip costs, and details on paying your deposit.
- The deposit invoice, which must be signed and returned along with your deposit payment in order to secure your spot.
- The “accommodation and itinerary” trip planning form. The sooner you get this information to us, the sooner we can create your customized trip itinerary. We generally ask you to complete this form 6 weeks prior to your arrival in Bamfield, but exceptions are made for schools visiting within the first six weeks of the school year.
- The “diet & medical information” trip planning form. This must be filled out and returned no later than three weeks prior to your trip.
Step 5: Confirm booking reservation by paying deposit
The deposit is calculated at $10 per person per day. Your deposit amount will show on the deposit invoice included as an attachment in your trip confirmation e-mail.
If you are making a late booking and your arrival date is less than three months away, we will ask for a non-refundable deposit of $500, due immediately, to secure your spot.
- Deposit deadline for Spring trips is October 31
- Deposit deadline for Fall trips is May 10
If you make a late booking and the deposit deadline has already passed, you will need to send your deposit immediately to reserve your spot.
*Please note that we will not hold your reserved trip dates if we do not received your deposit payment by the payment deadline.
Mail a cheque, payable to Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, to:
Field Trip Program
Bamfield Marine Science Centre
100 Pachena Rd.
Bamfield BC, V0R 1B0
To pay by credit card, call Visitor Services between 8:30 and 4:30 Monday to Friday at 250-728-3301, ext. 221.
This deposit is refundable only if cancellation occurs 90 days prior to your trip.
Step 6: Submit your completed trip planning forms
1) Accommodation & Itinerary form (due 6 weeks prior to trip)
2) Dietary & Medical Restrictions form (due 3 weeks prior to trip)
Please e-mail or call to let us know whenever there are any changes to your group size, even if it’s only one person. Space in our dormitories and boats is limited, so numbers increases cannot always be granted and you will need to seek special permission from our office. We organize our staffing requirements around the group size you’ve indicated on the booking request form, and we ask that you confirm your group size by submitting the “Accommodation and Itinerary” trip plan form a minimum of 6 weeks in advance of your arrival. Any changes +/- to your planned group size within the 6 weeks leading up to your trip will incur a $50 administration fee.
Give us your best guess and fill out the forms as completely as possible. We’d rather you send some information and fill us in on the details later, than have no information at all.
The most important information we gather from the “Accommodation & Itinerary” trip planning form is a) your group size, including number of teacher/chaperones, and b) your arrival and departure times in Bamfield.
The most important information we gather from the “Dietary and Medical Requirements” trip planning form is the number of guests with allergies (food related or otherwise), and especially those who might experience an anaphylactic reaction. Remember to include the requirements of all teachers and chaperones, as well as students. This information is confidential, but may need to be shared among certain staff members at BMSC for safety preparedness.
BMSC is highly utilized. Because we have limited beds and are often completely full, your group numbers and gender break-down are important. We want to ensure that everybody has an appropriate and comfortable place to sleep.
BMSC is also very isolated. We receive supplies only once a week and must place our orders a week prior to that. Our kitchen staff can design menus to meet the needs of most special diets, but only with plenty of advance notice. Our isolation also means that medical resources are limited. We must be informed of any allergies in order to assess whether this is an appropriate travel destination for the participant. Anybody who may require hospitalization is advised by the Vancouver Island Health Authority to stay at home.
Details about your goals are important in planning your itinerary; please be as clear and detailed as possible about what you hope to achieve while at BMSC.
Step 7: Trip planning resources: What details am I responsible for?
Transportation: You are responsible for planning and financing your group’s transportation to and from BMSC. Click the link for a list of transportation providers who offer chartered trips to Bamfield, either by road or water.
Field trip participants can expect generally cool, west coast weather with a high likelihood of rain. (Average annual rainfall in Bamfield is over 3 meters per year!) The following list covers the essentials for all field trips:
- Good rain gear – jacket, pants, and rubber boots (we have lots of spare rubber boots to lend out)
- Clothing suitable for cool, moist climate (including a hat and gloves) with at least one change
- Sleeping bag and towel (unless linen is requested during your stay in our dormitories)
- Snacks and beverages, if desired outside of normal meals in our cafeteria
- Water bottle
- Pen/pencil and paper for note taking and data recording
The following items might also be useful to bring along, but are not required:
- Camera (with a waterproof or Ziploc bag to keep it safe from the elements)
- Sketch books or journals
Safety is the number one priority of BMSC. Several school districts have conducted safety audits of our program and we have passed all audits with flying colours. We also have a safety committee that meets regularly and a safety officer on-site. All Education staff are trained in first aid and carry safety packs and VHF radios on all field trips.
BMSC has a strictly enforced boating policy. Staff complete training with the Canadian Coast Guard including in-water rescue training as well as in-house safety training. All of our staff are Transport Canada trained in Marine Emergency Duties.
A visit to Bamfield requires a fair amount of physical activity. Field trips often involve walking and a certain amount of travel over slippery rocks in the intertidal zone. Rain and sea spray are common elements of field trips – they add an exciting dimension – but participants should be prepared with proper foul weather gear. It is the responsibility of the group leader to be aware of the physical conditions and medical needs of participants in the group that might limit their activities in any way. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) or life jackets (provided by BMSC) must be worn at all times while on boats and on shore. Participants are requested to use special caution when traveling on slippery rocks, ramps, and docks.
Students are expected to be on time for lessons, labs and field trips. If more preparation or relaxation time is needed, please indicate this to instructors and we will accommodate you.
We would appreciate being advised of any ongoing assignments that you have set for your students based on BMSC content. This will help us to modify our program to best suit your needs.
Feel free to discipline your students as you normally would at school. If student behavior is unacceptable, we appreciate your expertise and knowledge of your own students in dealing with these behaviors.
Also, feel free to jump in to any instruction situation to help clarify instruction to your students, add applicable information, etc. We love to team teach and encourage you to take an active role in instruction.
You are the expert on your students and know their level of understanding. We appreciate any help you can give us to ensure that your students are getting as much as possible out of their BMSC experience.
If small groups are needed for any activities, please have your students divided into groups prior to the activity. Refer to your itinerary for information regarding group divisions.
We encourage all students to keep an ongoing species list while at BMSC. This is an excellent way to keep track of the plants and animals that you have seen.
Chaperones: For youth groups (under 18) we require a 11:1 student to teacher ratio. For mixed sex youth groups we require both female and male chaperones. Based on our experience, it is best when the chaperones are regular teachers of the students they are accompanying. We understand this is not always possible, on occasion other staff or parent volunteers may accompany the group in the role of a chaperone.
The chaperones are required to participate in all activities. As well, they are required to sleep in the dormitories with the students and are responsible for all discipline.
Establishing objectives for your field trip:
Communicate clearly to your group leaders, your students and us, why it is that you are coming to BMSC and what it is that you hope to achieve. We pride ourselves on the flexibility of the program. We will build your itinerary around what most excites you and your group. Descriptions of several labs and field trip opportunities we offer can be found on our website.
Prepare the participants:
Groups who are prepared and aware of the expectations placed on them as well as the opportunities presented will benefit most from their experience. We recommend some sort of screening process. Many schools also have the students sign a code of conduct as well as having the usual parental consent (we are not responsible for waivers).
Field experiences include all beach walks, boat trips and hikes.
- Students should bring a waterproofed (garbage bag?) field bag containing:
- Pencils (preferable to pens)
- Field Notebook or clipboard with paper
- All rain gear – pants, coat, hat and rubber boots that are comfortable enough to walk in (boots should be worn on all field trips).
- Binoculars and camera (optional)
- An extra sweater OR dress warmly at the beginning of the day. You can always take off extra layers if you are too warm.
- A head count needs to be taken at the beginning of each field trip upon arrival at the beach, and at the end of each field trip or as the group leaves the beach.
- Please ensure that students do not climb on the rocks, or wander off on their own. Students should never be out of sight of an adult.
- Collecting of shells and animals is always tempting for everyone, especially when the scenery and discoveries are as spectacular as they are here in Barkley Sound. Remember, pictures are always preferable to collections and we do not allow collecting on any of our beaches.
- We keep a limited supply of extra rain gear, rubber boots, and waterproof field bags on hand. If any of your students are in need of gear, please ask an instructor and we will try to outfit you as well as we can. It is very important to us that your students are warm and dry and are enjoying their stay
Laboratory Study and Lectures:
- Students need to come prepared with paper and pens or pencils. These will be used to record data, make scientific drawings, take notes, etc.
- There is to be no food or drink in any lab or lecture hall on station. Snacks can be eaten in dorms, lounges, the cafeteria, or anywhere outside.
- If microscopes are being used, please circulate around the classroom to help students set up and focus their microscopes as well as to help in slide preparation.
- As many of the labs and activities are ongoing, we would suggest that students keep all of their notes with them until the end of their trip at which time they can hand them in for evaluation.
- It is important that there be follow up at school upon your return from BMSC. We strongly suggest that students be responsible for their learning while at the station. Testing, group projects, presentations, journals, marking drawings, notes, etc., all help students to take their learning seriously and enhance their learning while at the station.
Enjoy your stay!!
Step 8: Itinerary building
We use your “Accommodation and Itinerary” trip planning form to create your itinerary, and we ask you to submit this form a minimum of 6 weeks prior to your visit. Please let us know about any particular expectations or projects you wish your students to complete during their visit, so we can build the itinerary accordingly. Your itinerary is also based around tides and access to boats and lab spaces. You should receive your detailed itinerary approximately 1 month in advance of your trip.
Your itinerary is flexible, as west coast weather often dictates changes for us. Perhaps you want to work your students more or less, or be outside more, or wish to create a different emphasis for the trip. We are interested in building the best itinerary for your needs and welcome your participation in this process.
If there is anything you would like to see changed on the itinerary, email email@example.com or phone 250-728-3301 ext. 226 to discuss these changes. Keep in mind that not all changes will be possible, as scheduling is often set up in such a way as to allow multiple schools access to our various boats and lab spaces without overlap.
1600 Arrive BMSC, settle into accommodations.
1700 Tour of BMSC facilties and safety orientation
1900 Boat trip: Oceanography and plankton collection in Grappler Inlet.
2030 Return to BMSC. Homework/journaling time, or return to the dorms and relax for the evening
Day 2 (Low tide of 0.5 m @ 0900)
0830 Field Trip: Introduction to intertidal ecology including zonation patterns at Aguilar Point.
1030 Lab: Marine invertebrate diversity in Barkley Sound.
1330 Boat Trip: Open ocean sampling (dredge) and seabird/marine mammal surveys on board the research vessel M.V. Alta
1630 Field trip: Temperate rainforest ecology
1900 Lab: Microscopic examination of the plankton
2030 Video: “Life at the Edge of the Sea” A BBC documentary filmed here at BMSC.
2130 Fieldtrip: Bioluminescence at the BMSC docks
Day 3 (Low tide of 0.4m @ 0940)
0700 Pack up and move out of accommodations
0830 Field Trip: Sandy and rocky shores of Brady’s beach, tidepool studies.
1130 Field trip: Examination of life under the BMSC docks
1330 Depart BMSC.
The following activities form the backbone of most field trips. They are put together in combinations dependent upon group interests, tides, weather conditions, school curricula, etc.
- Observations in open coast intertidal areas (sandy, rocky, cobbles): natural history, intertidal zonation, adaptations, interactions between species.
- Semi-protected coast intertidal studies (quantitative and qualitative studies)
- Plankton collection and microscopic examination
- Natural history of docks and pilings
- Collection and analysis of oceanography data (temperature and salinity)
- Open ocean dredging to examine subtidal sea life
- Open ocean surveys of seabirds and marine mammals
- Laboratory instruction on marine invertebrates, and “hands-on” knowledge
- Laboratory studies of seaweed ecology, diversity and human use
- Laboratory studies of behaviour, physiology, taxonomy, etc. of specific groups of marine organisms in display tanks and sea water tables
- Slide shows and educational workshops (marine mammals, species at risk, biodiversity and conservation, kelp forest ecology)
- Tour of Bamfield and Grappler Inlets
- Lab studies of marine mammal and seabird adaptations.
- Temperate rainforest ecology and ethnobotany walks
*subject to change without notice
The following activities are occasionally integrated into field trips according to the season and group interest, this is not a complete list so please let us know your specific group requests:
- Beach walks
- Lab to examine primary productivity of kelp or phytoplankton
- Hikes along the West Coast Trail or to Cape Beale headlands
- Tour of Coast Guard facility
- Tour of geoduck aquaculture facility
- Visit to sea lion haul outs
- Workshop on keeping a biological field journal
- Natural history and ecology of mudflats
- Reproduction lab involving the spawning of echinoderms
- Laboratory studies of fish diversity
- Barkley Sound wildlife and history boat tour
- Library research projects
- Individual studies and presentations
- Algae pressing
- Fish printing
- Biodiversity surveys in the forest and intertidal
- Tour of local fishing community and boardwalk
- “Structured” group leisure such as a “talent show”
*subject to change without notice