Just got back from SPL in the center of Vancouver Island in BC. With a family that included girls 13 and 10, had a great time - full of true adventures that we never would have pursued elsewhere (rock-climbing on real rock bluffs, kayaking in ocean kayaks and white-water kayaks, high ropes courses, overnight canoe trip, zip lines over canyons, etc.) with suburb supervison and educational support. The guides for the "Family Adventure Week" (2 for the 3 familes paired together, 14 of us in all) were knowledgable, patient, and handled the different issues of the multitude of kids with grace and humor - a huge thank you to Andrea and Felix. Basically, this is summer camp, with three activites a day and counselors responsible for your having fun, and while your good time and safety are dependent upon the skill of your assigned counselor, most of the 20-something year old guides seem about the same - all really REALLY into what they are doing, and taking it seriously.
Problems are, not surprisingly, because of the same "summer camp" feel to the place. On a gorgeous setting against a mountain lake, the facilities are rustic at best, kind of "camp-like" and run down in places. Rooms are plenty large, but spartan. Most mattresses were great, but the queen mattress in the "master" bedroom was mush. The latch on our sliding (front) door only worked sporadically, the water was hot in the shower once we mastered some plumbing quirks while the sink water remained cold, and the soup-nazi-like devotion to health foods led our kids to wander the buffet choices in search of something that resembled kid-friendly foods, rather than tofu-hash, etc. There were plenty of choices, though, some of them quite tasty, not always just "health-food" and plenty of willing staff to meet alternative needs if you asked (washing the orange sauce off the chicken for the kid wanting JUST chicken, or fetching some plain pasta when the pasta tossed with veggies and beans didn't fly with my 10 year old). This was a consistent theme - that if something wasn't right, staff were overwhelmingly eager to try to make it right, although some issues were obvious and shouldn't need to be pointed out. I should note that there is a "gourmet resturant" next to the "base package" cafeteria that on our one occasion, was competent if not great.
All in all, the splendor of the surroundings, the eager and thoughtful "counsellors" and the constant flow of challlenging and fun activities allowed/caused us to have a great time, and we would highly recommend it to familes with kids. We've been to much more luxurious resorts, with Frette sheets on the state-of-the-art mattresses, 5 gourmet restaurants, and all the "5 star" trappings, but not had nearly as much fun as we did here. The opportunity to have close contact over a week with interesting and enjoyable families from other parts of US and Canada was an added bonus for us. Each night we put the kids to bed, pulled out the beer and wine, made a fire in front of our cabins, and shot the breeze until midnight or beyond, watching shooting stars, and more constellations/planets/satellites than I'll see in a lifetime looking up in my native Philadelphia.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Living on the edge since 1959, Strathcona Park Lodge pioneered self propelled and off the grid wilderness experiences on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. From the lake side cabins, chalets and rooms experience wilderness inspired summer holidays, guided trips and group gatherings. Home base for WYLD youth summer camps, the COLT leadership training program and outdoor education programming, SPL is a leader in experiential education and wilderness vacations. The setting The Boulding family chose well when they picked the site for Strathcona Park Lodge. From almost every room on the property you can get an amazing view of glacier carved valleys, big pristine lakes and rocky/snowcapped peaks. There are several hikes, viewpoints, protected bays and beaches, climbing bluffs, old growth trees, high ropes courses and zip lines -- and that's just on the property. Strathcona Provincial Park, B.C.'s oldest protected area, is just down the road. Within 30 minutes go whitewater paddling, mountain biking, more rock climbing, or lace up for interpretive walks, hikes and mountaineering routes. A little further is world class sea kayaking and whale watching on both sides of Vancouver Island. Summer vacations Perfectly poised between the mountains of Strathcona Provincial Park and a sprawling lake chain the Lodge is an ideal base for exploring the heart of Vancouver Island. Hike, paddle, climb or just sit back and relax on the beach. Stay in lake-side cabins, mountain view chalets or hotel style rooms overlooking it all. Refuel on delicious and healthy food. Disconnect from the wired world and return recharged. Group Gatherings The Lodge loves groups. Big or small, 200 to 10, we have the capacity, facilities and experience to make any gathering unforgettable. Every year we host multiple weddings, family reunions and other large groups on our picturesque and family friendly setting. With a dedicated staff we take care of every detail. Outdoor education/school programs In the spring and fall schools visit Strathcona to learn outside of the classroom. Removed from their everyday, challenged mentally and physically and exposed to new experiences, our specially trained leaders help students gain confidence, leadership, teamwork and camaraderie - skills that can't be learnt from a desk. These are experiences students remember forever. WYLD summer camps A summer camp like no other, Wilderness Youth Leadership Development (WYLD) Expeditions are 8 to 12 day expeditions for adventurous teens, 12 to 17 years old. Based out of the Lodge's lakeside location, the camps explore the hiking trails, lakes, inlets, beaches, islands and mountains of Vancouver Island by foot, sea kayak and canoe. COLT Leadership Semester We believe COLT is the best outdoor leadership program in Canada. Founded in 1977 by Canada's oldest outdoor education centre, COLT is a learn-by-doing program with the best job opportunities, instructors and learning environment. And for the price no other program comes close to offering as much. Participants graduate with hard skills, like sea kayaking, rock climbing, mountaineering, whitewater paddling, but even more soft skills, like leadership, group dynamics, teamwork, confidence and determination. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Strathcona Park Lodge And Outdoor Education Centre
- Strathcona Park Lodge & Outdoor Education Centre Hotel Campbell River
- Strathcona Park Lodge & Outdoor Education Centre Campbell River, Vancouver Island