2022 Edition

Out-of-School Time Services (CA-OST) 17: Outdoor Environment and Materials

The outdoor environment and materials meet the needs of children and youth and support program goals.




Children and youth who participate in Out-of-School Time programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, increase well-being, and facilitate a successful transition through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood.
Note: Organizations that do not have their own outdoor space may demonstrate that they access other outdoor spaces (e.g., neighborhood parks or school playgrounds) to implement these standards. If there is no access to an outdoor space, or if the activities offered do not require outdoor space, the organization should request an NA.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or 
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
No Self-Study Evidence
No On-Site Evidence
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Children, youth, and families
  • Observe outdoor facility and materials


CA-OST 17.01

The outdoor space is large enough to accommodate the number of children and youth served, and suitable for the type of activities offered.


If the outdoor space is small, the time children and youth spend outdoors should be staggered so that they are not crowded during outdoor activities.
Examples: The characteristics of the outdoor space may vary based on the nature of the program and the type of activities offered. For example, an organization offering basketball should have access to a basketball court, an organization offering tennis should have access to a tennis court, and an organization offering walking or running groups should have access to sufficient space for children to engage in walking or running. Organizations that serve younger children and offer a variety of activity options will ideally provide access to an open area where children can run, jump, and play; a large field area for structured sports activities such as kickball; a hard surface for basketball, rollerblading, and bike riding; and a protected area for quiet play and socializing.


CA-OST 17.02

Supplies and equipment for outdoor activities are: 
  1. suited to the activities offered and the goals of the program;
  2. in good condition;
  3. sufficient for the number of children and youth in the program; and
  4. appropriate to the ages and developmental levels of program participants, including for children and youth with differing levels of skill and ability.


When children are required to share supplies and equipment there should be a system in place to minimize wait time and facilitate orderly access for all.


CA-OST 17.03

There is adequate and convenient storage space for outdoor supplies and equipment.
Examples: An organization can demonstrate implementation of this standard by, for example: ensuring children and youth can access outdoor supplies and equipment on their own, and with ease; storing supplies and equipment close to the activity space, or moving them near the activity space during program time; and making sure that personnel rarely have to carry heavy equipment or large quantities of supplies long distances (or providing portable equipment on wheels when it is necessary to do so).


CA-OST 17.04

Permanent playground equipment is suitable for the ages, sizes, and abilities of children and youth.
NA The organization does not use permanent playground equipment.