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Camp Koolaree screens historic footage to mark 90th anniversary

To celebrate its 90th birthday, Camp Koolaree is publicly screening historic films of the Kootenay Lake youth camp and its environs dating back as far as 1928.

Camp society vice-president Linn Murray explains the footage came from Fred Robins, one of the camp’s earliest volunteers.

“He was involved from the beginning and was a director for some 60 years at the camp,” Murray says. “It happened that he had a lot of film lying around from those early years.”

That film was converted to VHS in the 1980s and has since been digitized.

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“You get to see the Kokanee Glacier, the North Shore of Kootenay Lake, Camp Koolaree on the West Arm, and little bits of Nelson and Trail and other parts of the Kootenays mixed in,” Murray says.

This is the first time that the footage has been shown publicly, he adds, although it has been “heavily edited” down from about six hours to a 40-minute highlight reel.

The first screening was last week in Castlegar, but there will be two more this weekend: Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Trail United Church and Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Nelson United Church. The overall program runs about an hour and a half. If you’re unable to make it, you can watch the recording of the Castlegar event here.

Admission is by donation, with proceeds going toward a new boat for the camp, which is only accessible by water.

“We need a working fleet to keep camp going every summer,” Murray says. “It’s a tough go to run a not-for-profit camp. We’ve had financial struggles over the better part of the last decade, but especially in the last year we’ve been in a much more positive place than previously.”

He chalks that up to the support of the United Church and extra emphasis they have placed on fundraising and grant writing.

Additionally, they are building a new washhouse to replace one destroyed by a windstorm in January 2021. Although they were able to scramble to get something temporary in place for last summer, they are now completing a permanent building.

You can also make a donation at

While the camp started in 1931, the pandemic prevented them from having a proper birthday celebration last year.

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