Bluewater Outdoor Education Center Celebrates 50 Years

Bluewater Outdoor Education Center Celebrates 50 Years

Bluewater Outdoor Education Center 50th Anniversary (Photo by Nathan Shubert)

The Bluewater Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) is marking 50 years with a celebration held over the weekend.

The BOEC, located in Wiarton, welcomed past and present staff, alumni and guests for a morning of presentations, speeches, and the opportunity to tour the grounds on May 6 as it celebrated reaching this milestone.

Created in 1973, the BOEC says about 2,000 students experience the great outdoors on its 320 acre site each year, with the goal of educating children through a hands-on experience outside, while building on skills like leadership, healthy active living, and community building .

Attendees of the event heard from the previous Bruce County Teacher, Principal and Trustee Ray Fenton who was one of the original leaders in the Bruce County Board of Education who recognized the need for outdoor education.

Fenton says it is a dream come true to reach 50 years.

“When you see a gathering like this with so many people who are committed, it is so self-satisfying,” says Fenton.

BOEC Site Manager Deborah Diebel said it felt amazing to see everyone in attendance and it was incredible they were able to reach this milestone.

“For us, it is so rewarding to be able to see the original founders here and for them to see their legacy that they left to our school board,” said Diebel.

She said the education they offer helps develop learning in their students.

“It rounds out an education for students and we really hope we can expand to have more students in other grades here and for them to be able to come a few times in their educational career,” said Diebel.

Development Manager with the Bluewater Education Foundation Mike Schwindt adds in marking the 50th anniversary of the school, they have done a number of projects to build up what is offered at the BOEC, including putting in a dock when the water level evens out.

“In the past year we have built new composting toilet buildings and we have done a lot of capital improvements and redevelopments. Another piece going forward is that we are looking to grow programming, we are looking to take what happened during Covid and recognize that when school board staff go out to schools, they see a whole set of kids who don’t always have to make it here. So there is a big announcement coming soon that I can’t announce yet,” says Schwindt.

Past and present staff were each given gifts for their contribution to the BOEC.