Case Study: Duen Sailing Adventures – Practicums Pay Dividends

Duen Sailing Adventures tells how practicum students from Capilano University’s Outdoor Recreation Management Program grow to become an integral part of their business.

Let’s get it straight—practicum students aren’t free labour.

Some employers choose to pay practicum students. Others give a combination of equipment, food, board or recreation packages in-kind, depending upon the type of business, in lieu of staff wages.

From January to April, local and international employers “hiring” Capilano University outdoor recreation students do so under the agreement that they will provide supervised, on-the-job training. The student, having completed one and a half years of their two-year program, agrees to be:

  • responsible
  • employable
  • knowledgeable of current issues in outdoor recreation and the tourism industry


With soaring operating costs, Mike and Manon of Duen Sailing Adventures find employing a practicum student each year (for a period of four and a half months) is an asset for their small marine tour business.

Aboard the Duen, a student has free food and board while gaining valuable sea time. In exchange, Mike and Manon have an employable person that is not only motivated but eager to apply the theories they’ve learned in the classroom over the last 18 months!

“These young students are excited to begin their new careers in adventure tourism and go the extra mile to take on more responsibility. So much so, that after learning ‘the ropes’ they have become a real asset to our company.”


Ask any of the past students that Mike and Manon have taken on and they’ll tell you that the training and sea time on the Duen has been invaluable to their career path. As one outdoor recreation student said, “It would have been difficult to acquire all the experience I received because Mike and Manon showed me how to operate a tour business, and gave me the marine knowledge to run the boat and their youth sail training programs.”

Since 1986, Duen Sailing Adventures has offered certification programs for youth and adults and provided learning opportunities in environmental stewardship, life skills, and group dynamics. Mike and Manon’s goal, in both their training programs and Pacific Wildlife and Cultural Tours, is to create awareness and enthusiasm for preservation and education of the marine environment for all travellers who share a love of nature and outdoor adventure.


As Manon tells us, “At the end of a practicum, we often employ the student as crew for our summer eco-tour season, either as a budding naturalist or even as a cook—for the ones who have a culinary aptitude.”

With a reputation for providing quality wilderness adventures on Canada’s Natural Coast for the past 18 years, Mike and Manon need a qualified crew that work well together and are knowledgable of natural and cultural history during their eight-day tours.


For many seasonal tourism operators, college practicums are a practical hiring solution. Like on the Duen, students need individual attention but they come with the motivation and knowledge from their past experiences, and current education, that make them employable.

With the full support of college coordinators throughout the work team, any issues arising for the employer or practicum student are handled immediately.

For more information on hiring practicum students, visit Capilano University – Cooperative Education.