Founded in 1959 by Jim and Myrna Boulding, Strathcona Park Lodge & Outdoor Education Centre has gained a reputation as a leading centre for outdoor education and wilderness tourism. What started summer operation has since expanded, catering to tourists during the summer months, and school-aged children in the spring and fall. Today the Lodge remains in the Boulding family, and is run by Jim and Myrna’s son, Jamie Boulding, and his wife, Christine Clarke.
Jim and Myrna Boulding’s outdoor education interests began in 1959, teaching and guiding summer programs for youths and tourists. The two high school teachers had been inspired by a year of graduate work abroad, and research into European outdoor programs, and their efforts were encouraged by author and naturalist Roderick Haig-Brown. As a result, the focus of the operation has widened to promote outdoor stewardship through wilderness pursuits. Over the years, the Bouldings have fought to preserve the boundaries of Strathcona Park, save wild salmon and continue to speak out for responsible wilderness tourism.
By the late 1960s the Bouldings had created a unique blend of environmental and outdoor education. George Clutesi, respected First Nations spokesperson, and John Jackson, who started four outdoor centres in Britain and India, are among the many who have contributed to the philosophy and depth of the programmes.
In 1972 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. The instructor training and program development continue to keep SPL at the forefront of adventure tourism, wilderness leadership and outdoor education.
In 1986, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program, Jim and Myrna Boulding were awarded the prestigious Heaslip Award for Environmental Stewardship in 1986, 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.