GREATER VICTORIA FAMILY: Colwood property comes alive again with young campers

Youth learn how to make positive social change in the environment

Friends Uniting for Nature (FUN) Society executive director and founder

Friends Uniting for Nature (FUN) Society executive director and founder

Inspiring children and teens to do something more to preserve the environment and act on their outdoor passion is what FUN camps are all about.

FUN, a well-crafted acronym for Friends Uniting for Nature, has been offering environmental summer day camps for young people aged six to 16 since 2008 in Victoria and Vancouver. The success of the non-profit society’s camps led them this year to expand to the West Shore, on a Colwood site that has a rich history of connecting kids with the outdoors.

Coast Collective on Heatherbell Road, now a central part of the arts community on the West Shore, has partnered with FUN to offer a pristine location where campers can learn about their surroundings and experience activities that have little to do with electronics.

“We’re definitely not your average summer camp at all,” says Maia Green, executive director and founder of the Friends Uniting for Nature Society. “Kids are inspired to take action. The camp is focused on environmental leadership.”

Summer camps ran at the Havenwood estate, anchored by the historic Pendray House which now houses the Coast Collective’s gallery and programs, between 1977 and 2001.

Shannon Carmen, a Metchosin resident who now works with Coast Collective, remembers fondly the summer days she spent at the former Pacific Centre for Family Services day camp between 1994 and 2000.

“We learned to sail and canoe on Esquimalt Lagoon,” she says. “You were doing archery and tree climbing – that was something you did for an hour.”

Being around the area she played in as a child and teen allows her to relive a part of those experiences every day.

“When I think of it, and working at Coast Collective now, there was something that was so magical about that place.”

Carmen, now 32, likes the idea that children are now back and learning valuable lessons while playing.

“We weren’t talking about saving the environment, we just absorbed it by osmosis,” she says.

As part of the summer programs, which see all ages engage in activities together, campers are encouraged to follow their heart and create their own “passion project.”

“It gets them thinking about what do they really love and what would they like to do to make the world better,” Green says.

Past projects have ranged from a boy designing a book sharing program for his school to a girl creating a fundraiser project for wolf conservation.

One Grade 5 student at Crystal View elementary in Langford planned out and started an Eco Club at her school.

“Right away they had over 30 kids coming to every meeting,” Green says. “They did art projects on their favourite animals, made bird feeders, used outdoors as a learning place. The nice part is the school has committed to keep it going.”

At a summer’s end gala, campers particularly excited about their projects can pitch them to a panel of judges, with the potential to win a FUN Champs Social Change Award. Winners receive seed money to follow up on their dream and are assigned a mentor for a year.

Last year, 10 Champs were funded in each of Victoria and Vancouver.

FUN also prides itself on the fact its day camps are accessible to low-income, disadvantaged and at-risk children and youth through their scholarship program, which enables one third of all campers to attend free of charge.

The day camps run now through Aug. 29. For more information on the camps or to donate to the scholarship program, contact Green at 778-977-5921 or visit funsociety.ca.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

Paragliders worked to capture a big enough gust to get them flying near Clover Point Saturday. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents dive in and take flight under sunny skies

Warm, sunny weather had people flocking outside Saturday

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels after found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired B.C. teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

Most Read