Camp Koolaree: Back to the future?

Camp Koolaree a camp on Kootenay Lake owned and operated by a United Church of Canada Society for the benefit of kids from 7 to 17, mounted a hugely successful fundraising campaign last year that saw the camp filled with canoeing, hiking, swimming, running, singing and socializing children from throughout the West Kootenay and beyond. Finishing the year in the ‘black’ for the first time in a decade, the camp’s board of directors looked forward to another great year in 2014.

With accreditation in hand from the BC Camping Association, the United Church Camping Association, the Health Authority (for kitchen and water works), an ongoing capital improvement plan, and registrations recovering from the uncertainty of 2013, things looked good. Just before opening day, however, the local fire inspector provided some bad news. The camps propane systems needed an upgrade. Ruling the stoves and hot water tanks out of order, the inspector wrote up a list of requirements, wished the camp well, and left the board wondering what might come next.

A plan was soon developed. Hot water for showers and washing up would come from a wood heating system, propane barbeques and stoves would be set up in the dining hall, and the improvements required to meet the standards set by the inspection would be put in place as soon as possible. Word went out, donations of materials and time were offered and organized, and campers arrived.

The first Koolaree run camp has seen 30 teen co-ed campers enjoying the place and all it has offered since camping started here in 1932. The Board looks forward to another four camps over the next four weeks.

“When you think about it,” says Board Chair Peter Herd, “we’ve come a long way since those days. What seems like a set-back to us would be state of the art to the people who came here in the 1930s. They had canvass shelters, wood stoves and the open air to dine in. We have showers, potable water, cabins, a lodge, dining hall, kitchen, craft hut, canoes, fields, and a chapel. A few days without stoves seems pretty inconsequential by comparison.”

Peter is confident that campers will continue to enjoy Koolaree, as he has, since coming here as a child himself. Noting that fees went up last year, he also pointed out that the camp has never turned a child away for financial reasons. There is always a way. “As far as I’m concerned,” he said, “there always will be.”

For More Information: Peter Herd: 250 368 7449

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