Gordon Campbell is retiring after 30 years at the Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre after 30 years. Photo submitted

Long-standing avid outdoorsman bids farewell to Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre

Gordon Campbell to retire after 30 years at the education centre

After 30 years as the manager and executive director of the Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre (TBOEC), Gordon Campbell is retiring.

Campbell started his career in social work before taking the position at the TBOEC in 1988, the same year he took over operations of the Cross Country operations at Mount Washington. At that time, the TBOEC was a simple tent camping area on the old property of the Hornby Island Resort. Now, 30 years later under his leadership, more than 60,000 campers have enjoyed this unique site for recreational and educational purposes.

In 1994, Campbell saw a vision of a rigorous outdoor centre and collaborated with the BC Parks Permit holders, Comox Valley Schools and Qualicum School District (SD 69) to formalize the Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Society, a non-profit organization assigned to oversee operations at the centre.

Campbell led the restoration efforts to replace old buildings on the property into dorms, staff cabins and program facilities. The most significant accomplishment of which was restoring the original 1940’s Resort Lodge into a multi-purpose facility.

In 1999, Campbell secured grants and donors for program development, including a state of the art industry-standard challenge centre, designed for team building exercises for all participants.

Campbell has successfully generated revenue and secured funding to add the marine boat for ecological tours, and kayaks and stand up paddleboards for seagoing recreation.

In recent years, as job complexity grew, Campbell became the Executive Director, many new collaborations emerged, such as the Vancouver Island University, Ocean Wise (Vancouver Aquarium) and Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue.

During his tenure, Campbell’s family have played an instrumental role in the centre’s operations.

His wife Allison shared the vision, helping redevelop the centre. Their children, Haeley and Granger Campbell, were also involved assisting with general maintenance and program facilitating.

“Gord is an outstanding individual, family man and leader and will be sorely missed. Without his passion, vision and commitment over these 30 years there would be no legacy of a vibrant outdoor learning centre for all to enjoy,” expressed Rob Moore, President of the Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Society. “In essence, in bidding farewell to Gord, we are saying a fond goodbye to an entire family who have dedicated so much time and talent in building the centre to where it is today.”

Campbell’s retirement comes days after the TBOEC was awarded the Business of the Year award on Hornby Island, and following the completion of a major development at the education centre that will extend the usage from a seasonal to a 12-month facility.

On 15 October, a fire-pit pavilion was erected on the grounds by the Timber Framers Guild and made possible by several donors and community supporters. The endeavour had been three years in the making and a testament to Campbell’s vision for increasing access to the centre and improving its overall functionality.

The Executive Director position will be filled later following a phased-in approach, bringing in a management team to start the work of program planning and business operations. Effective immediately, Kate and Alex Ortwein will move from their role as senior program facilitators into the management position.

As of Oct. 31, Campbell will officially take up his retirement at the age of 63.

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