SURPASS  2017 

March 10TH update:


And ...

There's a new website for Surpass (including Registration)

You'll find it here: SURPASS 2017

Please refer to the new site.



•   •   •
To learn about SURPASS, read all the information below.   

• Registration links are located further down this page 

SURPASS Videos page (previous years)






What is SURPASS?
If you're the kind of teen who wants to make meaningful connections in your world, 
then SURPASS may be an exciting program for you.
Building on the success of the first eight years of
Surpass, we are now planning for this year's program. 

Our location this coming summer (July 2017) is again at Camp Byng, located nearby to Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast,
just northwest of Vancouver. The Sunshine Coast and Camp Byng offer many opportunities for activities.

*the sponsoring organization of Surpass is SelfDesign Learning Foundation, a not-for-profit charitable organization registered in British Columbia that oversees SelfDesign Learning Community, a government-certified,
secular independent school in BC, Canada. Whew!    

See for more information

A scene from 'Ninja vs Samurai' (movie) of Surpass 2015; Picnic table chillin', 2015.

Some pics from Surpass 2014. We have had a good time every year!

*Registration for SURPASS 2017

Please read all of the following registration details before clicking on the registration form link.  

Surpass registration is limited to 30 youth, 13 - 17 years of age (at the time of Surpass).

Two registration options are available for Surpass 2017:

i. 'Regular' registration at a cost of $500 per registrant, or ii. registration in Surpass as a learner for either ‘Leadership 10’ or ‘Leadership 11’ through SelfDesign High, for course credit, at a (subsidized) cost of $250 per registrant. Registrants are ineligible to take a course if they have previously registered 2 times for it.

Course details for Leadership 10 and Leadership 11 are noted in purple, further down this document.

Registration details for SURPASS - Leadership 10 or Leadership 11 

- Those seeking to take either Leadership 10 OR 11 must complete the Surpass registration form AND the SelfDesign High course registration form (both links are found below)

- Learners who are 13 years of age at the time of Surpass are ineligible to register for Leadership 10 OR 11, according to Ministry of Education regulations.

- Registration in Leadership 10 is only available to those who have not previously completed Leadership 10.

- The Leadership 11 course is only available to those who have previously completed Leadership 10.

- Registrants are ineligible to register in either Leadership 10 or 11 if they have previously registered 2 times for this course option in SURPASS.

Instructions for completing the Course Registration Form

When you click the SelfDesign High Course Registration Form (see link, below) you will be prompted to complete a form. On the second screen form, enter your PEN (Personal Education Number) when prompted, and also select 'Self-Paced' option; on the third screen select the appropriate grade level for the course you are choosing; on the fourth screen, choose "other" and write 'Leadership 10' or 'Leadership 11' - NOTE: the 'Activation' information at the top of this screen will not apply to this course (Don't add an additional course, but just click 'Next'); on the fifth screen you don't need to write anything, just click Submit!


To register for SURPASS 2017, click the link below and complete the registration form.

Registration Form Link
Surpass 2017 Registration Form  opening in March 
(all Surpass registrants complete this form) 

(to be completed in addition to the above form 
if you are registering to take Surpass-Leadership 10 or Surpass-Leadership 11)   

Cost of SURPASS 

The total fee for participating in SURPASS from July 9th-July 16th, 2017 at Camp Byng on the Sunshine coast is $500, however, for those registering in Surpass as a course through SelfDesign High the total cost is $250. To register and secure a place all applicants must provide a deposit of $100 by May 1, 2017, with the balance due by June 15th. Payment in full is also accepted at the time of registration. Registrants who do not provide full payment by June 15th may forfeit their place to another registrant. This registration fee does not include transportation fees to and from the Sunshine Coast before and after Surpass. Please check off one of the following payment options on the Surpass registration form and, if you are planning on registering for Surpass as a grade 10 or 11 'Leadership' course, please carefully read the eligibility requirements for this option, below.

SelfDesign Learning Foundation
RPO Kitsilano
Box 74560 Vancouver, BC, Canada V6K 4P4   
•     •     •   

Below are some comments from Surpass participants and their parents:

"It was AMAZING, an incredible experience, I learned an unbelievable amount
and made many new friends."

"It was one of the most inspirational, fun weeks I've ever had.
I enjoyed all the activities and meetings and I also tried and learned a lot of new things."

"I discovered many things about myself and also accomplished a lot during the week 
 like climbing the Mountain or little things like learning to play Ultimate Frisbee."

"All the activities were great and everyone was respectful.  I liked it that
we - the participants - were treated like people who had valuable thoughts and feelings,
instead of a bunch of teens who had to be kept out of trouble for a week." 

"Surpass has been a fabulous, fantastic growing opportunity that benefits my son's learning all through the year."


  Why SURPASS?  Young people, and teens, especially, want to live meaningfully and powerfully in ways that reflect their heartfelt interests, concerns and passions. The SURPASS program, with the support of the SelfDesign Foundation, provides opportunities and experiences that enable youth to reach beyond - to surpass their own personal limitations of what they know, and believe they can do, starting now. For this we draw on insights from the well-established fields of personal development and coaching and our experiences developing and successfully guiding teens through this work in our SelfDesign (K-12) programs and our predecessor programs, Virtual High and Wondertree. We are confident that SURPASS will provide knowledge and skills of immediate and lasting value to participants, families, communities and beyond.

  Mission / Purpose -  SURPASS will provide a unique and energizing experience for teenage youth through which they will connect with and make new friends, create respectful community, develop leadership and empowerment skills and participate in creative and invigorating activities.

  Overall Goals - Each youth enrolled in SURPASS will participate in individual and group-oriented activities through which they will:

* be validated and valued for their own unique approaches to learning and living (Come as you are!)
* introduce participants to creative, healthy group activities
* experience techniques and strategies for improving personal resourcefulness in the face of challenge(s)
* gain insights about achievement and excellence, based on their own natural genius, that they can apply in their own lives

  Specific strategies, techniques and experiences on which SURPASS is based:

- Positive reinforcement
- Teamwork
- Various outdoor and indoor physical activities
- Personal wellness
- Language and communication strategies to help, support, encourage
- Modelling / shadowing / mentoring / buddying (personal support) / coaching
- Self-reflecting 
Yes, there were Zombies at Surpass 2014. But some prompt thinking and a little Mama Mia saved the day!  

Activities that we've done in the past and are likely for Surpass 2017*  

- swimming (Camp Byng has some wonderful ocean swimming available on-site)

- arts and crafts  - theatre/drama/improv   - music  - Zipline / Ropes course (pending availability)

- personal development activities     - film & video-making    

- story-telling / campfires     - on-site games & activities (ultimate frisbee, badminton, volleyball, etc.)

- cooking    - writing    - yoga     - dance     - Capoeira     - more ....

Let no one tell you what your limits are because the truth is no one knows.
- Dr. Lee Pulos, 'Beyond Hypnosis'



* SURPASS Leadership 10 and Leadership 11 course details for learners 14-17 years  

(per Registration: SURPASS course participants must register through the main Surpass registration form (linked in above), and also complete the SelfDesign High 'course registration' form, also found above.  

 Overview of Leadership 10 and Leadership 11 courses: In these courses learners will choose an area of personal focus and study they will explore before, during and after attending Surpass where they will participate in program activities. Both courses emphasize goal-setting, leadership, communication and wellness, and they will consist of various pre-Surpass assignments, a workshop or presentation lead by the learner during Surpass, and a reflection journal to be completed during Surpass. Learners will be provided a detailed course outline after they register for either course. Please note that Leadership 11 builds and grows upon the goals of Leadership 10.

 Surpass-Leadership 10 and Leadership 11 Course Credits: Upon completion of the course requirements, this course is valued at 4 elective course credits toward a Dogwood Diploma, issued through SelfDesign Learning Community - a certified BC K-12 Independent school.

 Course Flow and Timing: Surpass course learners will

- 'activate' their course (details to be provided) and complete an online 'meet and greet' with their course mentor, starting May 1st

- complete course assignments as guided by mentor, prior to Surpass start (July 9th)

- meet with Surpass program leaders upon arrival at Surpass to check-in about workshop and other course details

- complete Surpass requirements as guided by mentor by early August

 Workshop presentation: In advance of attending Surpass learners in either course will prepare a workshop presentation for other Surpass participants reflecting a personal area of focus and study, which they will offer and lead at Surpass. This is a chance for learners to present about something they are passionate about, maybe that's a game or a skill or an art-making activity. Share knowledge on something that they have been studying. They are are encouraged to use props and demonstrations and engage audience members (mainly their peers). They will learn a lot through teaching others!

 Journal: Surpass course learners will offer journal reflections on preparing and leading their workshop, and noting special characteristics such as how they might improve their presentation in the future, and what people particularly valued. Surpass course learners will also contribute daily to a reflection journal while at Surpass on various themes and they will submit their journal by August 7th, following Surpass.  

 Art Project: Learners will create an art project in any form that reflects their learning in their chosen area of study or their experiences at Surpass.

 Research Project: Learners will choose an element of their workshop or focus topic or their experience at Surpass and create a 500-word research project, with a bibliography.

* Additional information for parents and participants

SURPASS is intended as a confirming experience for young people emerging from childhood and merging into adulthood.

  SURPASS embraces all sensibilities, religions and spiritual disciplines without bias. All participants will be encouraged to contribute their own ideas toward this end and they are free to accept or reject any of the ideas shared with them, without fear of censure or rejection. As well, all participants will be treated as intelligent, self-reflecting (young) adults and supported in opportunities that contribute to this end. The overall group ethic will be guided toward respect, support and honest reflection in addressing and surpassing challenges in the quest for personal empowerment.

  Finally, SURPASS presumes that each participant already has the (personal) resources needed for empowerment; accordingly, we are not "selling" any product or resource nor will we attempt to influence any participant toward a particular ideology.

* SURPASS Agreements:  Parents: we ask that you review the Agreements detailed below* with your child.

Responsibilities for all SURPASS Participants

Each SURPASS participant contributes to the program in the following ways:

i.  Fun, important insights, and new relationships and friendships will arise for SURPASS participants - beyond the programming that we are organizing - only to the extent that you are open to taking responsibility for co-creating these outcomes. In other words, if you come, please be prepared to participate and engage!

2) Participants are expected to contribute to keeping our entire retreat space reasonably clean and tidy throughout  the duration of our program. This will include sharing in clean-up of lodging rooms, bathrooms, dining space, retreat and activity spaces.   

3) Most importantly, be respectful of others, offer positive support, be honest about your own feelings, and live up to our Agreements. 

Who is best suited to participate in SURPASS?  

 As a fairly small group coming together to form a self-respecting and self-supporting community for a week, SURPASS is different than typical summer camps, inviting a higher level of maturity and willingness-to-engage from participants. It is best suited to those who are willing to try a few new things in their life and are willing to meet our agreements. That's about it, If you really want to participate in SURPASS after reading this and our Agreements, then chances are SURPASS is a good fit for you.

Surpass 2014 group

Suggested SURPASS Schedule

* Part ONE - Introduction / Intake  

Day 1 - Sunday July 9th :   mid-later afternoon arrival at Camp Byng, orientation, dinner, group gathering, evening introductions/overview, sleep

Day 2, 3:    breakfast, group workshops, discussions, nutrition and activity breaks; meals, sleep

Focus - Relationship - Community building - Personal ecology

* Part TWO - Pause / Energize!

Day 4, 5:  Activities such as hiking, dancing, yoga, Qi Gong, swimming, badminton, etc., meals  

Focus - Personal awareness and health, personal resourcefulness, teambuilding, self-reflection

* Part THREE - Exhale / Create

Day 6, 7:   breakfast, group workshops, presentations, discussions, nutrition and activity breaks; meals, sleep

Focus - various strategies for optimizing personal resourcefulness; completing Surpass course - requirements, resource sharing  

Day 8: Sunday July 16th: Breakfast,  closing circle, discussion;  depart from Camp Byng

SURPASS Leadership Team

The SURPASS team is multi-faceted, skilled and experienced. They also care deeply about helping participants feel comfortable about being involved in this process, including supporting people who are feeling challenged in any way. 

- Michael Maser -  Michael has worked with youth for 25 years as a co-founder, Director and learning consultant of SelfDesign Learning Community (2002-2017), 'Virtual High' Learning Community (Vancouver, 1993-1997), as a (school) teacher (1987-1990), and in other roles, too. Michael's personal professional interests include holistic learning, personal development, neurobiology ('brainy stuff') and journalism-research. Michael is an enthusiastic parent, lifelong learner, scientist, writer, ultimate frisbee player, fungophile ('shroomer), musician, author ('Learn Your Way', 2011;, Gold Mad), dog-owner, and he loves a good joke, too.  

+ Amber Santos -  Amber (aka Bera) constantly made art as a child while surrounded by creative family, and hasn’t stopped since. She studied photography at Concordia University in Montréal, Canada and fine arts at the Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina in Florianopolis, Brazil. Her travels through Europe, South Korea and Brazil brought her to explore and appreciate art as a catalyst for positive social change and value the force of collectivity, creativity and collaboration. Presently a SelfDesign High mentor, Amber loves to dance, play capoeira and do yoga, share movement with others whenever possible, and she is a passionate community activator! See more of Amber's work here  

Amber & friend

+ Lisa Housden - Lisa is a veteran 'Surpassian'. She's married to Michael and lives in Gibsons, and she brings a big candy sack full of wisdom, fun and helpful skills to Surpass. Lisa is a BC-certified educator and has worked as a Learning Consultant with SelfDesign for many years. 

* Food - Our goal is to provide SURPASS participants and staff with optimal nutrition consisting of delicious organic meals and snacks prepared daily. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian options will be available. 

* About  Camp Byng - Camp Byng is a 200+-acre camp setting owned by Scouts Canada, located about 15 minutes north of the Langdale ferry terminal, between Gibsons and Roberts Creek on BC's Sunshine Coast. The camp offers dining, meeting and sleeping facilities (gender-separate) as well as excellent recreational opportunities. (check out Camp Byng by clicking here).  Camp Byng is also a non-smoking site, as in not smoking anything. Ever.   

* Cost and Registration -  The cost of SURPASS is $500 per participant, or $250 for those participants registering to take Surpass as a course (course fee is subsidized by the Ministry of Education). The fee includes meals and snacks, lodging and on-site activities. Travel costs to Langdale are NOT included, and registrants should make plans to travel to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal and travel to Langdale, where we will pick them up on the afternoon of Sunday July 9th (we will meet each ferry that afternoon, and will have a sign for kids to recognize) and travel to Camp Byng. Early afternoon of Sunday July 16th we will transport kids to the Langdale ferry terminal and travel with them to ensure pick up at Horseshoe Bay, mid-late-afternoon. By way of warning the ferries returning to Horseshoe Bay often run late on Sunday afternoons in the summer
To register for SURPASS please access the form linked in, above, in this document. 

Payment in full is required by all participants by June 15th, 2017. Please make cheques payable to "Surpass Program" and mail to the address below, or indicate other arrangement on your registration form.  

Payment address:  
Surpass Program, 
SelfDesign Learning foundation, 
Box 74560 Kitsilano RPO, 
Vancouver V6K 4P4

Surpass 2007 ! 

* Fundraising

I - Any financial or in-kind donations are eligible for a tax credit that can be applied toward income tax. If you know of someone or an organization that may be interested in supporting SURPASS would you please ask them to contact us (or we can contact them).

II - For youth who wish to register for and attend SURPASS, but feel they are unable to pay the complete fee, we suggest that you be creative in your own approach to fundraising. Print off our flyer and program information, then approach other members of your family, friends and/or local organizations and inquire if they are willing to help sponsor you in attending SURPASS. Be clear about why you wish to attend and what you feel you may gain by attending.

* Special needs - If you have special needs please educate us about your needs in your registration form (or email us separately) and we'll do our best to anticipate your needs so that your SURPASS experience is comfortable, safe, and satisfying. 

Refund Policy If you have not paid registration fees in full by June 1st, your spot may be relinquished to someone else, and we will return to you all but the non-refundable portion of your registration fee ($50). If your plans change after registering and you are unable to attend, please advise us as soon as possible and we will return to you all but the non-refundable portion of your registration fee ($50).  

Other conditions applying to refunds include the following:

- Illness or Special Circumstances:  registrants who are contagiously sick at the time of the SURPASS retreat are encouraged NOT TO ATTEND!  In this situation, we will provide registrants with a refund of all but the non-refundable portion of their registration fees ($50). We may require a written and signed statement from a healthcare provider to verify your illness. We will likewise accommodate unforeseen special circumstances (personal issues and significant accidents) but we will NOT provide a full refund for non-contagious illnesses or issues not considered particularly significant or acute unless another registrant is easily found.

- someone choosing or wishing to leave the SURPASS retreat part-way through:  whether due to illness, homesickness, or other special circumstance, we may provide a partial refund; this decision will be left to the discretion of the SURPASS management team.

* Health and Safety - We will not be providing a nurse or equivalent medical person on staff for SURPASS. There will, however, be at least one staff person trained in basic first aid and CPR at all times. In case of serious emergency, we will contact St. Mary's hospital in Sechelt (20 minutes away) for emergency services. Participants are responsible for providing their own necessary medications, etc., if required. SURPASS registration fees do include insurance for accidents/injuries that take place during the regular course of retreat activities.


Surpass 2014 hike to the summit of Mt. Elphinstone;  Surpass Mentor Serjaio Santos 

• information prior to SURPASS
Approximately 4 weeks before the start of SURPASS your registration will be re-confirmed and you will receive guidance including a list of what to bring and some additional information to help you prepare.

Thank You! 

- your Surpass 2017 Co-Pilots!

Contacts:   Michael Maser
Amber Santos 

SURPASS is sponsored by: 

See for more information 

* Surpass 2017 Agreements 

Parents and participants: Please read the entire text below

If you don't feel you or your child are able to meet these agreements, 
then Surpass is most likely NOT a good program to choose.  

  To recap - the Why and What of SURPASS for registrants

   SURPASS is intended as a unique, fun and energizing week-long experience in a great location, designed for you to 

- have a range of new experiences
- meet other young people (some of whom you already know, some of whom you don't yet!) 
- learn some new things about yourself and others, 
- learn some personal excellence skills, and who knows what else!
- share ideas and insights (as you wish)

  Collectively, we will be a group of 25 - 35 people including leaders, our cooking staff and special guests. For this week we will come together as a community and, as such, we would like to ask each person coming to Surpass make a personal commitment to helping everyone have an awesome experience. On our first evening, we'll focus on a set of Agreements for us all to help ensure this, considering things like how we can best: 

- respect each others' thoughts, feelings, belongings, personal space
- communicate about what's on your mind, and on-site plans (what you're doing, where you're going)
- keep all our meeting, sleeping and eating places clean 
- share in chores that may arise and need attention
- manage relationships

  You're going to meet some interesting people here who are doing some pretty amazing things in their lives, for sure. You're going to be invited to experience some things you may have not considered before, to stretch your horizons, you're going to be invited to consider some things from different perspectives than you may have considered before. We ask only that you keep an open mind about what you experience at SURPASS, but please remember you don't "have to" do anything you really don't want to do, and we will encourage you to continue to live your life exactly as you wish. 

  • Some AGREEMENTS to support the safety and well being of all Surpass participants are listed as follows:

1  Treat each person with respect and care (think Golden Rule: treat others as you wish to be treated)  
2  Let leaders know where you are and where you are going
3  Stick together in pairs and groups (wait up for each other) while traveling to and from the beach and fields
4  Keep sleeping quarters as private spaces and not for socializing
5  Keep sleeping quarters clean and organized
6  Clear and clean your own dishes and toiletries (in bathrooms) 
7  Avoid gossip and gossiping
8  Be sensitive to others' personal physical and emotional space 
9  Remember that we all have feelings, needs, opinions and belief systems - respect them
10  Seek support from the leaders if you feel you need it, and ask questions
11  Listen to each other
12  Understand that we are all one community for this week - strive for an open, supportive and fun time!
13  Be helpful
14.  Smoking - any substance - is not permitted on the SURPASS - Camp Byng program site at any time. Anywhere. Ever. 
15.  Cell phone use (texting, playing music, etc.) drains energy from interacting with others and the overall program; respect the limits established, collectively, on cell phone use at the outset of Surpass. 

  A word about falling in love:
  This might happen. If it does, holding hands, walking arm in arm, the odd kiss is fine. Sneaking away from the group to engage in any kind of sexual activity at Surpass is inappropriate. If you are experiencing this pressure, or observing it, we ask that you bring it to the attention of a Surpass leader ASAP.  

  A word about games like "Truth or Dare":

  'Truth or Dare', is a game that is based on peer pressure. Even if the people playing the game establish that you can "pass" on a dare, the pressure to do certain things in public that you would not normally choose to do otherwise is still present. Some people really enjoy playing this game, others participate and come away from the experience with a feeling that they wish they hadn't done certain things or witnessed certain things, and others come away with some deep regrets. Surpass is not the place for this, there are other games to play that don't involve coercion and pressure. 

  What if ... participants break the agreements during Surpass?
 In the event agreements are broken, Surpass organizers will investigate the circumstances to determine the seriousness of the agreement breach and the consequences. We will not allow the physical or emotional safety of any participant to be put at risk through the actions of another and we may arrange for a participant to depart from Surpass early to uphold this important pledge.  

 That's it! - Let's have a great week! 

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