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under the arch outdoor owner/educator

crystal kean

Crystal is a vibrant educator who calls the majestic Vancouver Island in BC, Canada, her home. With a fervent belief in immersive and engaging learning experiences that intertwine with the living world, she is dedicated to bringing students and parents closer to nature, sparking joy and curiosity through natural learning opportunities.

Boasting over twenty years of experience in alternative education, Crystal specializes in Waldorf education and outdoor learning. Her journey from the expansive canola fields of rural Alberta to the lush landscapes of Canada’s west coast ignited a passion for connecting local youth with their stunning, accessible natural surroundings.

This revelation led to the inception of “Under The Arch Outdoor,” a program designed to harness the untapped educational potential of the outdoors. Recognizing the diversity in learning styles among students, Crystal has crafted a unique educational philosophy that emphasizes relevant learning practices and captivating program delivery. Her status as a certified National Geographic Educator has enabled her to blend outdoor exploration with a GeoInquiry process, transforming students into citizen scientists deeply engaged with the biodiverse ecology of their locale.

Crystal’s innovative approach extends to cross-curricular learning, incorporating field notes/nature journaling, outdoor-specific activities, and data collection and interpretation. Her specialized education model is perfectly aligned with the curriculum outcomes for Grades 1 to 5 in British Columbia, offering a comprehensive and holistic educational experience.

Eager to share her passion and knowledge, Crystal looks forward to embarking on a learning journey with your family, embracing the wonders of nature and the joy of discovery.

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under the arch outdoor

saul hillis

Saul Hillis’s journey into the realm of nature-based learning began with a significant move from the expansive woods and plains of rural Alberta to the scenic coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, at the age of sixteen.

The relocation opened his eyes to the vast educational possibilities that nature had to offer. At seventeen, Saul’s educational path took a pivotal turn when he enrolled in the R.O.A.M.S. (Rivers Oceans And Mountains School) program within school district 69. This experience saw him traversing the diverse landscapes of British Columbia, where he amassed valuable experience and certifications in adventure tourism, outdoor survival, education, and first aid.

Saul’s passion for education and working with children blossomed further while teaching gymnastics, a role that allowed him to foster community connections, nurture independent and critical thinkers, and tackle real-life challenges head-on.

His involvement in the gymnastics community exposed him to a broad spectrum of children and individuals, deepening his desire to make a meaningful impact on the lives of children, particularly those facing physical, behavioural, or cognitive challenges. Driven by this aspiration, Saul became part of non-profit organizations and led after-school initiatives for at-risk and behaviourally challenged youth, until these programs were unfortunately disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reflecting on his enriching experiences with the R.O.A.M.S. program and his engagements with youth across various educational settings, Saul recognized the intrinsic link between nature and profound educational experiences. This realization paved the way for his current endeavour at Under The Arch Outdoor, where he is committed to unlocking the true potential of learning in nature for others.

under the arch outdoor


Meet McGregor, the spirited and loyal Pyrenees dog who has become an integral part of the Under The Arch outdoor education program. Born with a gentle soul and a courageous heart, McGregor has been watching over and protecting the children of Under The Arch since he was just 8 weeks old. Now, at 3 years old, his presence is synonymous with safety and companionship for both the young adventurers and the staff.

McGregor’s journey began when he was introduced to the program as a fluffy, eager-to-learn puppy. With his breed’s natural protective instincts and an unwavering dedication to his charges, McGregor quickly became much more than a pet; he became a guardian. Over the years, his keen senses, intelligence, and gentle demeanor have made him an indispensable member of the Under The Arch family.

Each day, McGregor accompanies the children on their explorations and learning activities, always vigilant and always ready to lend his support. Whether guiding the kids through forest trails, sitting beside them as they journal in the outdoors, or watching over them during their lessons and playtime, his calm and assertive energy brings a sense of security to the program.

McGregor’s role extends beyond mere protection; he is also a beloved companion and an educator in his own right. Through interacting with him, children learn about responsibility, empathy, and the unspoken bond between humans and animals. McGregor’s intuitive nature allows him to connect with the kids in a unique way, often providing comfort and encouragement to those who need it the most.

At Under The Arch, McGregor is more than just a dog; he is a friend, a protector, and an embodiment of the program’s spirit of adventure and care for one another. His story is a testament to the powerful connection between humans and animals, and the profound impact that a dog with a big heart can have on a community.