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 90 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 groups, we also host elementary school groups, French first language and immersion schools, seniors, naturalist groups, clubs, girl guides, and large family groups.
|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:
M/V Barkley Star charter:
We can handle groups as small as 20 and as large as 48; the ideal group size is 24 including teachers or chaperones. Boat capacity is 12, so groups of 12, or multiples thereof, work well. We prefer groups slightly under or equal, rather than slightly over multiples of twelve. Under special circumstances, there may be opportunity for other group sizes or even individuals to participate in programs at BMSC. (See below).
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. However, requests can 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.
If your group size is between 10 and 20, and you have flexible booking dates, we recommend that you submit a booking request. We will do our best to schedule your group with another small group with similar learning objectives. 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): February 28
- Spring Term (January – 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.
- 2 If the application deadline has past, 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 bookings calendar online at our online availability calendar.
If there are still free dates, e-mail us a booking request and we’ll add you to the calendar. 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.
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: November 30th
Deposits for Fall Term due: June 10th
Step 3: Submit a formal booking request.
Fill in the Booking Request Form, and send it by fax/email/or post. Even if you have a wonderful phone conversation with a staff member, we still require you submit a formal request.
Please note, we do not automatically schedule your booking, even if you come every year.
A formal booking request must include the following information:
- Your name and the name of the school or organization you are bringing
- Contact information: address, phone number, fax number, or email
- The estimated group size you will be bringing. This number includes all persons, including chaperones, coming on the field trip. It is important to consider this number carefully, as we may not be able to increase it at a later date
- The length of your desired stay
- 3 date options, in order of preference. Please supply us with date ranges, rather than actual dates
- The age, grade and/or knowledge level of the group
- The learning objectives of your field trip
- 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 March.
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” information sheet that must be filled out and returned in order for us to plan your arrival.
- The “diet & medical” information sheet that 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 $10 per person per day.
- Deposit deadline for Spring trips is November 30
- Deposit deadline for Fall trips is June 10
If you make a late booking and the deposit deadline has already passed, you will need to send your deposit immediately.
*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 or money order, 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 completed
1) Itinerary & Accommodation form
2) Dietary & Medical form.
A small change in numbers is allowed, plus or minus 2. Please let us know well in advance. If the adjustment is more than that, you need to seek special permission from our office. Space is limited, so large adjustments cannot always be granted.
If the group size drops and it is less than 15 days prior to your trip, you will be charged for the original number.
Please complete the forms as completely as possible. Where you do not have the required information, estimate when we can expect to receive this information on the form. It is important that we receive all of this information at least three weeks in advance of your trip.
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 very isolated. We receive supplies only once a week and must place our order a week prior to that. We are able to meet the needs of almost any special diet, but we need advanced 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: Planning resources: What details and I responsible for?
Transportation: You are responsible for planning and financing your group’s transportation to and from BMSC. Access to Bamfield is available by road or water. Both boats and buses can be chartered. We may be able to provide advice. **BMSC now has a 24-passenger bus and can transport you to and from anywhere on the island. Please contact us for details.
Field trip participants can expect generally cool west coast weather with some likelihood of rain. (Average annual rainfall in Bamfield is over 3m per year!) The following list covers the essentials for all field trips:
- Good rain gear – jacket, pants, and rubber boots
- Clothing suitable for cool, moist climate (including a hat and gloves) with at least one change
- Sleeping bag (unless linen is requested)
- Snacks and beverages if desired outside normal meals
Participants find that the program takes up most of their time. A stereo is available in the lounge and cassettes or musical instruments are often brought along for leisure and social time. Cameras and/or binoculars are brought along by many visitors. We also suggest bringing pen and paper for note taking, sketch books, and 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 student-centered 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.
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
Before your scheduled arrival, our Program Coordinator will send you a detailed itinerary. This itinerary is constructed based on the information you send us in your booking request and field trip information sheets. We cannot plan your itinerary until you forward this information to us! It is also based around tides and access to boats and labs.
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 the Education Coordinator or phone 250-728-3301 ext. 226 to discuss these changes.
1600 Arrive BMSC, settle into accommodations.
1700 Tour of BMSC facilties and safety orientation
1900 Field trip: Oceanography and biodiversity in Grappler Inlet, plankton collections.
2030 Slide Show: Marine Mammals of Barkley Sound.
Day 2 (Low tide of 0.5m @ 0900)
0830 Field Trip: Introduction to intertidal ecology including zonation patterns at Aguilar Point.
1030 Lab: Marine invertebrate diversity in Barkley Sound.
1330 Field Trip: Open ocean sampling (dredge) and seabird/marine mammal surveys on board the research vessel M.V. Alta
1530 Fieldtrip: Temperate rainforest ecology, biodiversity study
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 in the inlets of Bamfield
Day 3 (Low tide of 0.4m @ 0940)
0730 Breakfast, pack-up
0830 Field Trip: Sandy and rocky shores of Brady’s beach, tidepool studies.
1130 Fiedltrip: Life on docks and pilings.
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
- Open ocean bird watching
- 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