Des Bazett is pleased to give a tour of the newly-renovated Keego Kitchen dining hall at Scout Canada’s Camp Barnard in Sooke
Bazett is one of the dozens of volunteers who took on this major renovation.
“Up until a couple of months ago, this was all bare studs, so we added the mezzanine, skylights, new heat pump heating system,” Bazett said.
The heat pump replaced a propane heater, which could never properly heat this huge uninsulated space.
The renovation means that finally, the building can be used all year.
“You can’t have kids out here camping in the winter, especially with the rain we get in Sooke if you can’t get them warm and dry. We can do that now,” said Bazett.
And it’s not just this huge project that was completed by volunteers.
“All the maintenance of the camp is done by volunteers,? Bazett said. ?We have only one full-time staff ranger here, and a part-time grounds-person, which we pay through fundraising.”
Owned by Scouts Canada, the property encompasses 250 acres, with lodges, bunkhouses, washrooms, and a lake.
Penny Hill volunteers her time as the marketing co-ordinator for Camp Barnard, and explains that the property welcomes school groups, faith based groups, and many others.
“We have lots of other not-for-profit groups that run their programs here like Power to Be, children at risk have come out here, children with special needs, adults with special needs,? Hill said.
Not only do the volunteers manage the land and the buildings, they also fundraise to operate the camp too. Those crucial dollars help offset the cost of maintenance, which would otherwise have to be charged to the users.
“If we had to charge people what it cost to use the camp school groups and not-for-profit groups couldn’t afford to use the camp, so we actually subsidize 30 to 50 thousand dollars every year, just in operating, said Hill.
Des Bazett adds how grateful the volunteers are for all money that is directed to the camp.
“We get corporate donations, donations from various groups, and private donations, we get a huge number of donations of time, and materials,? Bazett said.
Hill said the Victoria Foundation has provided support over the years.
“Having that support, just the validation of a group like the Victoria Foundation saying ‘yes, this is a group that’s worth supporting – this is a facility worth supporting’ has made a huge difference…that validation, that support, is huge. It puts the stamp of approval on us, and our facility,? Hill said.
Every donation and every volunteer help keep this wilderness paradise going.
“We have to keep our guard up and make sure we’re doing the right to manage this legacy and make sure it’s there for future generations,” says Hill.