For Girl Guides, camping has always been an integral part of the organization. It allows girls to learn skills they can’t learn anywhere else.
Understanding this, in 1930, Girl Guides purchased a former assembly camp of the Rat Portage Lumber Company on the Sunshine Coast. Initially called Camp Brock and then Roberts Creek/Wilson Creek Camp, it wasn’t until 1961 that their new camp was renamed Camp Olave. Lady Olave Baden-Powell was the wife of Lord Robert Baden Powell, and together with Robert’s sister Agnes, they founded Girl Guides of Canada - Guides du Canada in 1910.
The campsite was purchased with a down payment of $2,000, with the total cost of the property being $10,000 for 57 hectares. It would take five years to pay this off, though the price was reduced to $7,500. This was done successfully with the help of many donations and fundraising efforts — including everything from selling Girl Guide cookbooks to Miss Pumphrey’s dance and concert displays, which would bring in up to $1,000 at a time.
This year, Camp Olave is celebrating its 85th birthday — and it has certainly grown from being a couple of cottages, stables and a half-wrecked wharf. The camp is now home to 15 campsites and cottages, a recreational hall, numerous hiking trails, an outdoor chapel, a fitness circuit and an archery range. The entire camp overlooks the Strait of Georgia, and so in addition to activities like archery and nature hikes, campers can also go swimming, kayaking and canoeing and learn about ocean wildlife.
Next Saturday, May 26, Girl Guides will be celebrating the 85th birthday of their beloved Camp Olave with an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. at the camp located at Jack Road and Sunshine Coast Highway, with a diverse range of activities, including tours, games, refreshments and making s’mores. People wishing to attend can RSVP to Debra Legge, PR with the Camp Olave management committee, via email: email@example.com, although RSVP is not mandatory.
One of the coolest things about Camp Olave is that its 15 campsites and cottages are diverse and offer completely different camping experiences. There are the small cabins, sleeping between three and 12 people. There is the Brownie Hideaway cabin, popular amongst the younger groups, which sleeps 26 people with the help of bunk beds. There are sites like Ah Ah Wah Kie, which features platform tents; Kutawa, which gives girls the chance to sleep in teepees; and Hi Yu Win, with smaller cabins with just beds for six people, so the girls still have an outdoors camping experience. And there are sites that allow you to try true wilderness camping and pitch your own tent.
Hundreds of campers head to Camp Olave each year, and in doing so support local merchants and often partake in service projects that benefit both Camp Olave and various community organizations. Many groups put together comfort kits of shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and other supplies for the local women’s shelter, and Camp Olave is also offered to local schools for day use.
Camp Olave has faced several obstacles over its years, but it is for that reason that it now stands as such a strong testament to the power of teamwork.
Whenever the camp needed something, Girl Guides and communities would come together to ensure that its needs were met, so the camp could continue to be a place where girls and women could learn, foster friendships and create memories that would last well beyond the two or three days they spent at Camp Olave.