Flash Back Fridays
Youth Potential: an interview with Jim Boulding 1982
“The great potential of this country is our young people. There is a real need to have trained staff in these fields to staff other programs. We don’t mind that they go elsewhere. There’s enough here (in Canada) for everyone. Tourism programs can provide needed rural employment and development without being environmentally destructive. I think tourism is the most important business we have here in Canada. If we can show the government that a certain stand of trees can produce more money from tourism rather than cutting them down for logging, then we provide more rural jobs and in- come.”
Strathcona operates over 50 programs annually from the 16-week wilderness leadership training schools, through to the weekend family get-away. In between are the canoe, hiking, windsurfing, kayaking, camping, naturalist and photography programs. The Bouldings also open their doors to the resort vacationer who wants a relaxed holiday with creature comforts of a Lodge complete with home-cooked meals, fireplaces and nothing more physical than an afternoon swim.
It isn’t all roses at Strathcona. Economics keep visionary aspirations in close check. “We lived on $5,000 last year,” says Jim. “We employ approximately 50 people annually to keep the programs going and there’s constant upkeep and pouring of funds back into the property. But we have so many other non-financial rewards. “There’s no way around the seasonality of this business in Canada,” says Jim. “It’s important to keep operating programs year-round.” “Bookings on some programs are down slightly this year. I have projected growth in the motor coach and meetings and convention business in order to make the target. Motor coach business is the one area of tourism I see experiencing growth.”
To accommodate that segment, the Bouldings added 22 chalet-type rooms last year, large cabins built on the hillside looking over Elk Valley and its lake. In all, the Lodge can accommodate 250 people with dormitory-type sleeping quarters. All of the 50 rooms on the property can accommodate up to eight people, although, obviously, they are utilized as single and double rooms as well.
Strathcona Lodge will be participating in the May 2-6 Calgary Rendezvous Canada marketplace, telling people of its potential and programs. Jim will be emphasiz- ing the motor coach and convention potential of his property.
Work with CGOT (Canadian Government Office of Tourism)
“We’ve also been working with CGOT and Manpower on programs at Strathcona. The Manpower program is for wilderness leadership training to provide skilled personnel for the job market. “I’d like to see more student exchange programs in this country, more awareness of what this country has to offer. Corporations are recognizing the validity of physical health for their staff. We set up programs, can prepare special features or offer exist- ing ones,” says Jim”.
The necktie slightly askew and the mottled felt hat atop his head, Jim is out to sell Canada’s tourism potential to anyone who’ll listen. He’s game enough to take on those who won’t listen.