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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Lakewood gears up for sunny weather and annual rush of students

At Lakewood boathouse, students can rent an array of watercraft for cheap.
// Photo by Christopher Smith

By Christopher Smith

As spring comes into full swing, the Viking Union begins to prepare Western’s Lakewood Boathouse property on Lake Whatcom for a new season of sunny weather.

Lakewood offers Western students access to Lake Whatcom through many interactive programs and options for water sports. The boathouse, staffed by a number of Western students, offers rentals of kayaks, paddleboards, canoes and more for $6 with their student ID. Students can also take sailing lessons for $65 per hour according to the Lakewood website, or dive off of the docks that line the lake.

Jeff Davis, outdoor facilities manager at Lakewood, oversees the preparations that occur on a daily basis and knows just how busy Lakewood can be, especially during spring quarter. Hiring, training and scheduling staff is a large part of the preparation, Davis said.

“Anytime the temperature is over 70 degrees, this place goes through the roof,” Davis said.

Davis said Lakewood is unique in the access it gives to Western students.

“The lake is so different than Bellingham itself, and it is only 20 minutes away from campus,” Davis said. “You can learn a lot of different skills on watercraft equipment without even owning any of them.”

Blake Gowing, a fourth-year finance student at Western, has been to Lakewood many times in the past.  

“I go to Lakewood because it’s fun when it’s nice and hot out,” Gowing said. “It’s a great place to rent cheap watercraft.”

Cameron Kilstrom, a former Western student, enjoys Lakewood for its community atmosphere.

“It’s spring quarter now and the sun is out, and Lakewood is the perfect place to lay out and enjoy the sun in a nice social setting with other students,” Kilstrom said.

Davis said Lakewood offers the opportunity to learn new skills which brings it to the attention of the student body.

“People can also take individual lessons or in a pair for beginning sailing or windsurfing,” Davis said. “When people want to learn something, and they want to come out not because the weather is good, but because they are interested in the activity, that’s where we could use some more awareness and a pattern of use.”

Lakewood is located at 2410 Lake Whatcom Blvd., less than 10 miles from campus. According to the Viking Union page on Western’s website, the facility is 4,000 square feet and operates until dusk every day during spring quarter except for Tuesdays and Thursdays, when it is closed for classes. Summer hours are everyday from noon to 7:30 p.m.

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