Members of the 7th Juan de Fuca Scouts group Noah Armstrong

Deck the halls for a good cause in View Royal

Bring the outdoors indoors while supporting youth programs

One of the best parts of the holiday season is arguably the smells.

There’s the cookies baking, the turkey roasting, and of course, the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree, filling a home with not only that unique scent, but also creating strong memories.

Scouts Canada, which aims to get children back out into the great outdoors, is doing its part to bring that holiday magic into people’s homes and raise funds to operate Camp Barnard.

With a load just delivered, local members and volunteers with Scouts Canada are selling Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes at the View Royal Canadian Tire Garden Centre, 1519 Admirals Rd., from now until they sell out.

Penny Hill, head of marketing for Camp Barnard and a tree lot volunteer for over a decade, said the trees sold out about a week before Christmas last year. She suggested buying your tree early, giving it a fresh cut and leaving it in water outside or in a cool place.

“You’ve got to treat them like flowers … They’ll last really well.”

She added the specialty trees sell out quickly. “We’ve got little tiny trees, skinny trees … and some really good deals.”

Hill said one woman even took a little tree home on the bus after volunteers wrapped it up for her. They also usually have boughs available for people looking to decorate a mantle.

The Scouts have used the same Cowichan supplier for 10 years. Anyone who’s purchased a tree in the past will know what great quality to expect of these fresh-cut, Island-grown trees, Hill said.

Scout units from around the region volunteer at the tree lot and one of the first questions their leaders ask, she said, is “‘Are you still running that camp this year?’”

With the tree lot run entirely by volunteers and the space donated by Canadian Tire, all of the profits raised by sales go towards subsidizing the cost of operating Camp Barnard. The camp is a 250-acre facility in Sooke that is owned by Scouts Canada and is used year-round by a variety of youth and adult organizations.

The money raised also goes to help subside the rental rate of the facility for outside groups, Hill said.

“Fifty per cent of our users are non-Scouts.” Those include school programs, youth groups and many other community groups that want to experience all the outdoor recreation facility has to offer.

Numerous fundraisers through the year, including Christmas tree sales, make the camp more accessible and budget friendly for everyone, Hill said. “We want people out there, using the camp.”

The tree lot is open Monday to Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Payment is by cash or cheque and prices range from $10 to $80.

For more information, email christmastrees@campbarnard.ca.

katie@goldstream gazette.com

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