Camp Barnard celebrates 70 years of scouting

From humble beginnings,Camp Barnard has grown better in each decade

Camping at Camp Barnard in 1946 was rustic for the Scouts and their leaders.

Pirjo Raits

Sooke News Mirror

One hundred and fifty porta-potties, 400 picnic tables, over 225,000 pounds of gear and 60,000 meals will land at Camp Barnard this summer for Pacific Jamboree, an eight-day adventure for Scouts from across Canada.

The Boy Scout camp has been a naturalist’s dream for 70 years and a legacy for the future.

In February 1945, Senator George Henry Barnard turned his hunting lodge over to the Victoria Council of Scouts Canada. He was a lawyer and a Conservative politician serving as an alderman, mayor and a member of the House of Commons for Victoria. He was appointed to the senate and served there until retiring in 1945. Barnard gifted Scouts Canada 200 acres of second growth forest, just west of Victoria in Otter Point, which included the 17-acre Young Lake.

That was the beginning of 70 years of activities at what is Camp Barnard. The camp, along Young Lake Road,  just out of Sooke, is now 251 acres and is used year-round by the Boy Scouts, community groups and organizations and most recently the film industry.

Both Scouting and non-Scouting children learn about camping, nature and the environment.

In the 1940s camping was rough and the hardy campers slept in tents and cooked on open campfires. Every decade since improvements continued and now the camp boasts new water systems, expanded electrical systems, upgrades to bridges renovations to almost all of the building to prepare for the Pacific Jamboree in July of this year.

Indoor plumbing, 24 bunkhouses and a kitchen fit to feed an army all make camping a lot more comfortable than in the formative years. The camp is expecting 25,000 camper nights in 2015, a huge increase from the 2,781 camper nights in 1956. The camp has grown along with the need for safe, nurturing, clean and sustainable facilities accessible to all.

In July, 2015, Camp Barnard will play host to the Pacific Jamboree with an expected 3,250 Scouts and service/staff from throughout B.C. and the Yukon. Camp Barnard has not hosted a Jamboree since 1987.

To host the event, Penny Hill, of the Camp Barnard Management Committee, said, “The main road in camp has been widened, turn around provided and bus parking created. Bridges have been reinforced to carry the load of service vehicles for food delivery, pumping port-a-potties, etc.”

It is a monumental task and everything is being considered. Hill said they have extended electricity service to allow for an on-site hospital, security, post office, shops, phones, internet and bank.

“We have worked for a year with local first responders and emergency preparedness experts to create a comprehensive emergency plan for the camp.”

It’s a major operation and the financial benefits to the area are tremendous. It is expected to generate $700,000 of economic spending in Sooke and the CRD region through suppliers and vendors. This does not include what the youth, volunteers and families spend in the local communities.

“Based on projections by previous Chambers of Commerce, we expect an economic impact of $500,000 or more over the course of the jamboree,” stated Hill.

The Pacific Jamboree is being hosted by Scouts Canada – Cascadia, Fraser Valley and Pacific Coast Councils. Youth aged 11-18 will be participating in outdoor activities ranging from archery and climbing to scuba diving and kayaking. Activities will take place not only on camp property but throughout the Greater Victoria area.

Fun Facts:

– The furthest travel to a Pacific Jamboree – The Australian Benalla contingent at PJ 2011 (on the Sunshine Coast) flew for 21 hours

– Average steps taken each day at PJ 25,435

– 60,000 meals will be provided during the week of PJ

– Pizza delivery to PJ spikes on Tuna Helper night

– 400 picnic tables will be delivered and constructed

– 150 port-a-potties have been rented

– Units will bring in approx. 225,000 pounds of gear

– Water for the participant showers is un-heated and will be glacier fresh no matter how long you let the water run

– This PJ will be the first with both full recycling facilities and kitchen waste collection

– Dimensions for the unit campsite (max 10 people in a unit)- each unit will have space up to 10 metres x 10 metres

– Groups will be arriving on everything from bicycles to charter flights

– Weather forecasting is important as there is no “indoors” for the units taking part in PJ. Weather forecasting is done in a traditional Scouting method using the “Weather Rock.”

If the rock is wet, it’s raining.

If the rock is swinging, the wind is blowing.

If the rock casts a shadow, the sun is shining.