What happens at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in between camps? Well, lots of other programs, including international artist residencies, weddings, school programs and lots of free art activities both at the centre and in the community but executive director Chris O'Neill says just as important is an almost invisible activity - volunteer improvements.
O'Neill says the Centre is a host with two different international volunteer organsiations and welcomes volunteers from all around the globe to spend from a week to months doing whatever is needed. This fall they had long-term workers from Belgium, Toronto, Chile, Switzerland/Mexico, Edmonton, Virgina, and France all working to ensure the centre is always making improvements in time for next year's camps.
Some of the improvements involve the large organic gardens and forests thoughout the property. This fall, O'Neill has asked volunteers to expand the gardens and plant lots more garlic (she points out that because they make so much food for camps onsite, they go through hundreds of pounds of garlic every year). The volunteers have continued the goal of making the potager (french-style kitchen garden that has a formal and beautiful style while still being productive) in the geometric patterns that encourage campers to spend lots of time in the gardens, both on their rec time and for their art programs.
The second focus has been on trail development. For campers who have been at Ross Creek before, they will know that most of the time, visitors to Ross Creek only know a small part of the property, and never see the creek the centre is named for. With the help of four committed volunteers, new trails are being developed down to the creek for use both in the summer and for snowshoeing and winter walks. O'Neill says she feels blessed to develop friendships with so many international volunteers. The volunteers come and work in exchange for room and board and she makes sure they get to see the province and get to know the community. "We are so lucky to have people who want to volunteer to make this place even more magical for campers and visitors," she points out, "and we also get to meet wonderful people from around the world, while making new ambassadors!"