Friends of Spruce Woods (FOSWP) is a volunteer, non-profit organization that has been in operation for over 30 years. Founded in June 1986, the group’s chief mandate is to provide assistance to the hired employees of Spruce Woods Provincial Park in its operations. Its particular interest is conserving the flora and fauna for the public’s enjoyment.
The group presently has about 100 members, and it operates a number of programs in the park. One of the main ones is the operation of a gift shop, located in the day-use area of the park’s Kiche Manitou Beach and Campground. The gift store is open from May to September, approximately the same months as the campground operates, and offers a wide selection of items with local and outdoor themes. Any net revenue from this store, from events run by Friends, or from donations to the organization are spent on the park in consultation with local officials. FOSWP also helps with some of the costs of running the volunteer campground host project.
Behind the store is another item sponsored by FOSWP: a decorated Aboriginal teepee that will be getting a new cover in 2019.
Friends also operates the two equestrian campgrounds — the Barn Campground, located nine km east of the main campground, and Canoe Campground No. 2, located north from Cypress River on Road 71W (that is used by both equestrians and canoeists). Fees from these grounds are collected by FOSWP and remain with the organization to help in upkeep, such as the new corrals, and other projects.
These other projects include Pine Fort Days in July, when volunteers and staff dress in period costumes and recreate fur trader camps, Family Fun Day in February with a variety of winter activities, and the October Haunted Park Day. A new project currently underway is building a log cabin at the Parson Hill, to be used as a year-round facility. Another is a kiosk to be built at the Kiche Manitou beach to provide free life-jackets for use, and Friends will also provide funds for a new playground facility at the lower campground.
There are also long-range plans to build a replica Pine Fort that can be used with the Interpretive Centre’s historical programs. Friends’ chairman, Brian Mitchell, said tentative plans include harvesting unwanted trees to provide local wood, and using volunteers dressed in pioneer costume, using original tools from that time period, to help build the structure. Plans are for this project to be filmed from start to finish, and then sold at the gift shop. FOSWP will be fundraising for this major undertaking.
To reach Spruce Woods Park drive 22 km south of Carberry, or 17 km north of Glenboro, on Highway No. 5. New members of FOSWP are always welcome, meetings are held a couple of times a month at the Interpretive Centre, and there’s no membership fee. Check out the Friends of Spruce Woods website and send your email address to receive newsletters and program information. The Annual General Meeting is held in April and all may attend.