Bill Phipps teaching mountaineering skills.

COLT Managers Message


About the same time I discovered my love of the outdoors, the Boulding family started the COLT program at Strathcona Park Lodge. In the 40 years since, I’ve been fortunate to live just down the road in Campbell River and spend an amazing amount of time in the COLT classroom – the mountains, lakes, forests and ocean of Strathcona Provincial Park and Vancouver Island.

But like many of you, my journey to a career in the outdoors was not a city sidewalk, but a scramble over obstacles. Through high school the wilderness of Strathcona Park occupied my thoughts with temptations of adventure and thrill. But I was told to stop dreaming. So, I worked towards a joint degree in physical education and geography. But even as I finished it I knew classrooms and “regular” jobs weren’t for me.

Instead I discovered climbing, joined the local search and rescue team, managed an outdoor sports store and a climbing gym and finally became an instructor at Strathcona Park Lodge. I immediately fell in love with the rich lifestyle it afforded me.  Friendships, adventures, thrills, laughs and the rewards of nature fill my emotional bank account. Soon I was working with the COLT program – my dream job. Now as COLT Manager I want to help you achieve your outdoor goals too.

I believe the COLT program is uniquely positioned to do that for two reasons. First, the Lodge is more than a home base for the COLT program. When not in the field COLT students rub shoulders with the 30 to 70 instructors who keep this busy outdoor education centre going. These are people that make a living in the outdoors, guiding, instructing and leading wilderness programs. They’re an amazing resource. The ability to interact between COLT students and the instructors is something no other program can offer.

Second, is the Lodge’s heritage in experiential learning. It’s one of the oldest outdoor education centres in Canada. Likewise, the COLT program is one of the oldest leadership programs. We never give you the answers. Instead, our instructors give you the tools and it’s your adventure to solve them. It’s a learning style that I really believe in and it’s fundamental to what the COLT program is all about.

You get what you give in the COLT program. Graduates become full time outdoor guides, incorporate new leadership and teamwork skills in other areas, or return to the Lodge to work right here. Whatever they do, everyone agrees COLT is a highlight. It’s my pleasure to be apart of that experience.

I welcome all of you to come and see for yourself what COLT has to offer.  The rewards you gain will be as individual as you are.  Come join the community and family of the outdoors, your adventure is waiting.


Bill Phipps

COLT Manager (