Much more than a local accommodation, a lodge in BC’s oldest provincial park trains outdoor educators and guides while acting as a steward to the surrounding environment.
I enjoy a good local holiday, and one of the best things about living on Vancouver Island is the abundance of adventures to be had within a five-hour drive from almost anywhere. Like many others, I moved to Vancouver Island from elsewhere, and my list of places to explore grows weekly. Many destinations stay on the list even after I’ve visited them once, as experiences differ depending on who’s part of the adventure.
I first heard about Strathcona Park Lodge (SPL) as a tourism and recreation student at VIU (known then as Malaspina University College). I later had the opportunity to interview Jamie Boulding, whose parents Jim and Myrna opened the lodge back in 1959, for a research project entitled “Fostering Innovation in Sustainable Tourism”. I’ve made numerous trips to this unique property over the years that followed and, with each visit, my appreciation for what they are overtly and subtly communicating has grown. The Boulding family and the broader community they are fostering through the offerings at SPL have been a quiet inspiration to me as I’ve immersed myself in the study of sustainable tourism and creating memorable guest experiences to both locals and visitors from afar.
SPL is a place you can delight in visiting again and again. It’s easy to access (35 minutes west of Campbell River on Highway 28), and once you’re there, you feel much farther away. Located on the shore of Upper Campbell Lake, this semi-wilderness retreat is an ideal destination for weddings, stagettes, team-building retreats, educational workshop, or a simple getaway with loved ones. I say “ideal” in that I have personally experienced SPL in each of these circumstances (or know someone who has). Spending a weekend away with girlfriends, we rented one of the larger cabins and had a slumber party complete with dancing, swimming (in the sunshine and under the stars), paddle boarding, and ropes courses. As a wedding guest, I practiced yoga with the bridal party, enjoyed the lakefront marriage ceremony, and danced the night away at the upper barn, far enough away from guests outside of the celebration that we weren’t negatively affecting their experience. The simplicity of what is offered means that guests get to be present and connect with their company in whatever way presents itself.
In addition to the tourist experience, SPL is an outdoor education centre that houses the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training Program (COLT). The owners and staff are firmly committed to learning about and stewarding the natural environment that surrounds the property. Being nestled in next to Strathcona Provincial Park means this area is a mecca for people who are interested in exploring while experiencing a rustic and simple holiday destination.
I feel blessed that my academic and work experiences are rooted in tourism, recreation, and leisure. Many of my explorations here on the island started with learning all about the amazing people and organizations that have holistically contributed to the conscientious development of tourism on Vancouver Island. I actively promote local tourism participation, and I highly encourage residents of the Valley to connect with the people and organizations that are leading the tourism industry by example. Strathcona Park Lodge and its team are among those leaders.