Dave Verhulst - director
For Dave, play is a mindset independent of an age bracket. His roots of play developed in Peterborough, Ontario but have since established themselves in the Bow Valley for over 20 years. In 2011, Dave co-founded Forest Play alongside Corey Stevens and Ronna Schneberger. Initially, Forest Play was the answer to a call from parents who wanted their children to actively pursue nature connection. Dave, a parent of two daughters himself, aligned his extensive outdoor skill set and passion for Coyote Mentoring to facilitate these requests.
His professional qualifications include an Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism (1998, Lakehead University), BA in History (1998, Lakehead University), Master's Degree in Recreation Management (Acadia University, 2004), Master Interpretive Hiking Guide Accreditation (Interpretive Guides Association, 2015), Moving Water Canoe Instructor (Paddle Canada, 2018) and Wilderness First Aid Responder. In addition, Dave has ongoing mentoring with Twin Eagles Wilderness School (2015-present), and completed the following programs in nature connection mentoring: Nature of Mentoring (2006 & 07, Windwalker) , Mind of Mentoring (2005, Wilderness Awareness School), as well as the Art of Mentoring (2003, Vermont Wilderness School). He is in the process of completing the Forest School Canada Practitioner’s certificate (2014). Dave is also a founding member of Alpenglow School.
Guided by fun, kindness and an extensive knowledge of the region, Dave has playfully developed Forest Play as an outdoor learning program for adults and children that fosters connection to self, others and nature. He has the unique ability to weave plant, animal, climate, landscape, Indigenous and historical knowledge into relatable stories, games and skills. His vision for Forest Play, is to create a safe and playful place where both children and adults can connect with their inner child and unique gifts to share with their community.
When not at Forest Play, Dave can still be found at play in the forest. He entertains his time with cross-country skiing in the winter, canoeing in the summer and spending time outside with his family.