Founded in 1959 by Jim and Myrna Boulding, Strathcona Park Lodge & Outdoor Education Centre started as a seasonal guest and fishing lodge operation and has since expanded, catering to tourists in the summer months and school aged children in the spring and fall. Today the Lodge has gained a reputation as a leading centre for outdoor education and wilderness tourism and remains in the Boulding family, being operated by the Boulding’s son Jamie and his wife, Christine Clarke.
Jim and Myrna Boulding’s outdoor education interests began in 1969. The two high school teachers were inspired by a year of graduate work abroad that included research into European outdoor programs, and their efforts were encouraged by their good friend, author and conservationist Roderick Haig-Brown. Throughout the early 1970s, the Bouldings began creating a unique blend of environmental and outdoor education. George Clutesi, a respected First Nations spokesperson and John Jackson, who started four outdoor centres in Britain and India, are among the many who contributed to the philosophy and depth of the programs. As a result, the focus of the operation widened to promote outdoor stewardship through wilderness pursuits and guided programs. Over the years, the Bouldings fought to preserve Strathcona Park from industry and continue to speak out for responsible wilderness tourism.
In 1973 the Bouldings left their teaching positions in nearby Campbell River to devote all their attention to the development of SPL programs. A full-scale Apprenticeship Program for those embarking on a career in outdoor education and leadership was launched in 1977, and is now known as the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training (COLT) program. Instructor training and program development continue to keep SPL at the forefront of adventure tourism, wilderness leadership and outdoor education.
In May 1986, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program, Jim and Myrna Boulding were awarded the prestigious Heaslip Award for Environmental Stewardship, shortly after Jim passed away, and the business was ranked second in British Columbia for the Quality of Life and Physical Environment category under the B.C. Chamber of Commerce’s Award for Best Business Achievement (A.B.B.A.). Today, the Lodge continues to set an industry standard.
Strathcona Park Lodge offers holistic education and experiential learning in a natural setting. Holistic education does not separate work from play, nor education from life. Holism in education is a composite experience involving all that is available in both the natural and human environment. In addition to teaching skills, we are concerned with the less visible realms of education. Perceptions are changed, confidence is built, bodies are strengthened and a basic sense of integration with nature is experienced.
Activities, though often demanding, take place in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. Participants are given a chance to realize and extend their physical abilities and feel some of the excitement of “living on the edge.”
Basic to our philosophy is generosity of spirit. This is revealed in the instructors’ desire to share their skills and knowledge with all students, and in the warmth and friendliness one feels at the Lodge. Visitors are valued as participants, not spectators – they are encouraged to contribute.