Flash Back Fridays

BRUCE and PATTY KILOH 1975

We had been active in teaching in the public school system after graduating from both PE and Education at UBC. We had become aware of a Wilderness Leadership Course that was available. If teachers were prepared to use some of their “summer holiday,” districts would subsidize the costs of the three week course. We were excited to hear we had been accepted.. We had no preconceived ideas of the site, the instructors, the region, the food, or the overall philosophy behind becoming a wilderness leader of young people.

We were introduced to our instructors, Geoff Evans and Ray Preece, the 12 other members taking the course, and the managers of the Lodge, Myrna and Jim Boulding.

Bruce crossing a river

Bruce crossing a river

Ray and Geoff had both emigrated from England where Geoff had excelled in kayaking and Ray as an outstanding sailor and general outdoorsmen. Both had worked for Outward Bound. Jim and Myrna had had other instructors but these two seemed to have a real chemistry. There was immediate respect for their personal backgrounds and what they brought to program at Strathcona. Their wilderness skills were easily passed on in an informative, interesting and humorous manner. Their impact was such, that at the end of the three week course, the “students” in their course spent a day redefining and clearing a walking trail near the Lodge which was aptly named, The Preece-Evans Trail. All thirteen of our group were teachers interested in sharing the outdoors with their students in a careful and thoughtful manner. Eventually they became leaders in outdoor education organizing their own programs. During one of the hands-on first aid instructions, Ray had left himself prone on a table and would ask each student to point to the various arteries and muscle groups that we were in the process of learning. He asked Patty to point to the “femoral artery”. At first she was reluctant, but upon Ray’s insistence to press with some force, Ray responded with a quick but quite noticeable, fart. Thus he was named “Captain Methane”.

Ever since our course in 1975, Ray Preece has taught outdoor education in Howe Sound, led various groups in PE and outdoor education, sharing his expertise, his with, his stories and his wisdom.

Jim and Myrna had a vision that would be instrumental in developing effective and sage outdoor programs in North America. Of course Jim was larger than life. I enjoyed the very competitive games of basketball on the famous concrete court just outside the main Lodge. They were battles and in spite of his obvious size advantage, believe it he used his size ….”leave it on the court” was his motto.

Not too many years after the Wilderness Leadership Experience Party developed the outdoor component of PE 12 at Cariboo Hill Secondary in Burnaby. The program was a result of her experience at Strathcona. At Handsworth Secondary in North Vancouver I started an outdoor education program and a visit to the Lodge.

As a direct result of our Wilderness Leadership course and the support of Jim and Myrna, I became the principal of the Coast Mountain Outdoor School in Pemberton. At the Coast Mountain Outdoor School we developed programs for each grade that were based on the provincial guidelines. It was awesome. Too bad the governments of the province did not continue with the same vision. It seems more necessary now than ever.