Campoverde’s Open House

Campoverde’s Fireworks Beach Barbeque
(Photo from Campoverde’s gallery)

In the afternoon before the finale of the Celebration of Light (on Saturday 5 August), I happened to discover the Campoverde Social Club, whom I hadn’t even heard of before. They were hard to miss, having set out the furnishings of an 18th century parlour outdoors in Kits Park, just east of the swimming pool. This was their Fireworks Beach Barbeque.

Picture a row of cushioned, high-backed chairs and chaise longues in a row (side by side, but spaced out somewhat), facing the bay. In front of the chairs, several ornate carpets are spread out like picnic blankets to cover the grass. On the carpets, many plump cushions for sitting on. (And somewhat incongruosly, off to the side, a barbeque and a utilitarian table to hold the fixings.)

This was the eye-catching gathering that caught my eye. Taking the time to converse with a couple of the members, I found out that Campoverde is having an open house for the month of August. They invited me to drop by their clubhouse after the fireworks.

(My immediate mental reaction: “They have their own clubhouse!?”)

Campoverde’s a private members’ social club, and membership isn’t cheap–it starts at a $750 joining with $43 monthly dues. Certainly, that’s a lot when compared to alternatives for meeting people or discovering activities being organized, like VAML (Vancouver Activities Mailing List), or local groups and Yahoo groups. But what Campoverde has that most other groups don’t is their own clubhouse, a permanent space, on 1660 Cypress (at 1st) in Kits. And having a permanent space is huge. Ask any general activities or special interest group how much more often they’d meet up, or how much more they could do, or would do, if they had but a place of their own.

Following the fireworks finale, I decided to take up Campoverde’s invitation to visit their pad (particularly since I had already been planning to wait for the bulk of the crowd to clear out before making my own journey home, as is my routine for the annual fireworks show). When you actually have your own space, size doesn’t really matter. Much. (“Be it ever so humble, ….”) Campoverde’s space isn’t huge: just one suite in a stretch of smushed-together, cheek by jowl, ‘row house’ buildings. Walk by it, giving it only a casual glance, and you might easily mistake it for a small cafe or bistro–as indeed, a few people who were looking for a post-fireworks drink or snack did. Inside, the decor matched the mini-Campo setup in the park: an opulent parlour. Shiny.

The One Rule of Campo is “be friendly and do not ignore people”, and I can say it was definitely obeyed during my visit–I was greeted and welcomed as I walked in tentatively and invited to sit down and join a conversation. It was a little crowded, though–the style of furnishings took up more space than was strictly necessary, plus there was, I’m sure, a larger than usual crowd that evening (what with the fireworks finale thing and all). No doubt it’s usually a little less crammed typically.

I didn’t stay too long, leaving in the short window of time between the bulk of the fireworks crowd clearing out and the end of transit service for the day, but it was a most interesting and pleasant experience chatting with some Campoverde members and visiting their clubhouse. While I have no plans to join–it’s both a bit rich for my blood and a little far from my own neighbourhood–I can see the attraction of membership. The people I met were friendly and welcoming. They have lots of activities (parties, fundraising and seasonal events, dinner parties, a running club, seminars). They have their own space.

And as I mentioned earlier, they’re having an open house (“no door fees, unlimited visits, and no dress code”) for almost the entire month of August, so feel free to have a look at their calendar of events for what’s on for the remainder of this month–or just drop by the Campo clubhouse some evening for a looky-loo.

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