For the Townsman/Bulletin
You may recognize the new face taking the lead at Blue Lake Centre. Todd Hebert has returned to Blue Lake as Executive Director after an 11 year hiatus. Hebert was Executive Director from 1987 until 2003. During his time at Blue Lake he saw the organization through the transition from BC Forestry Association Camp to new Non Profit Society.
After several years away, he has now returned to the Kootenays bringing with him a wealth of experience. “Its great to be back,” says Hebert. “It is especially great to be back at such an exciting time; there are so many great projects and partnerships in the works and I am pleased to be able to assist with moving them forward.”
Located 40 minutes South of Fairmont Hot Springs and 90 minutes North of Cranbrook, Blue Lake Centre has been a top destination for environment education programming for over 35 years. In 2011, the facility received funding through the Western Diversification Community Adjustment Fund allowing Blue Lake to complete a $1.2 million facility upgrade. The transformation included replacement of the sleeping cabins and wash house, upgrades to the dining hall and commercial kitchen, and the construction of a new luxury back country lodge with 1,000 square foot training centre. The new facilities inspired a new look. Blue Lake Centre revealed its redesigned logo and website in the spring. The new branding reflects recent upgrades at the facility allowing for more varied and year round use.
“I am pleased to see how far Blue Lake has come in the last number of years,” says Hebert. “The facility upgrades have allowed for increased capacity for the Centre and the youth programs. They have also provided the opportunity to host private rentals between camp programs, thereby generating funds in support of the programming for youth. The facilities are perfect for everything from family getaways in the Lodge, to full camp rentals for family reunions, weddings, youth groups, or conferences. We have just completed a brand new rate structure that makes the Centre extremely affordable for any size group from 1 – 117.”
Outdoor and resource education remains the focus of the Society. Blue Lake’s programming targets local environmental issues and sustainability practices related to forests, wildlife, soils, water, biodiversity and alternative energy. Social development is also at the forefront of the programming mission. Participation offers campers the chance to develop important decision-making and problem solving skills, develop meaningful relationships, and a chance to bolster self-esteem. The camp community provides a positive supportive environment for children and the impact from attending camp can last a lifetime. Outdoor education programs include School Programs, Summer Camp for ages 7-13, and Outdoor Youth Leadership programs for ages 14-17.
Blue Lake Forest Education Society has recognized the need for children and youth to have the opportunity to experience camp life. To address this need the Society has developed a Campership program that allows businesses and individuals to support children who would not otherwise be able to attend summer camp. “We have great fundraisers planned for the upcoming months to help support sending local kids to camp,” says Hebert. “On November 15, we will be participating in the Gifts That Give Hope fair in Cranbrook providing the opportunity for people to make a Campership donation in the name of a friend. We are close to announcing the details of our first annual Halloween themed Family Fun Walk/Run based in Cranbrook. We are also organizing a December bake sale featuring everyone’s favorite camp goodies.”
There are changes on the horizon at Blue Lake. “Expansion of our school programs into the fall and winter, expanded youth outdoor leadership programs, new summer programs, and broadened sustainability education are all in the works,” says Hebert. “We are currently developing a new educational vision for Blue Lake to become the regional Forest Education Citizen Science Centre. Through partnerships with local colleges, universities, and science professionals, we will involve youth in the collection of scientific data. Completing on the ground projects will help create a group of passionate, involved citizen scientists.”
For more information visit the Blue Lake Centre website at www.bluelakecentre.com or call 250-426-3676.