Revelstoke After School Society grows into its third season

Revelstoke After School Society has 98 children registered this year, its third year running. That’s up from 24 the first year, and 48 the second. The organization also opened a third location at the Baptist Church on Highway 23 North.

After school care means child care for school aged children, up to ten-years old, between the hours of 2:30 and 5:30 in the afternoon.

Jo Gawler had the idea to start the society in January of 2020 when she was out for a run with a friend who had just moved to town from Vernon. Her friend was asking what there was for after school.

“And I said, ‘Ah, nothing.'” Gawler said. “There is nothing! Parents just have to go around and figure it out themselves.”

Now Gawler is the executive director of the Revelstoke After School Society’s not-for-profit. Her daughter is in after school care, and her son will be when he starts school.

For her personally, after school care has given her the ability to talk to other grown ups during the day, and to grow something in the community.

“It’s like a little child for me, it’s exciting to see where it’s going.” Gawler said.

The have one staff member for every six children, and they offer outdoor programming except on days when it’s not good to be outside, because of the weather or smoky air.

Other than the new location in Columbia Park, there are two downtown. Children from Arrow Heights Elementary School are bussed downtown with staff after school.

Listen to the full radio report by clicking the link below.

Revelstoke After School Society growing to meet demand

A fundraiser coming up May 7 will help with equipment and supply costs

April 25, 2022

This fall, the Revelstoke After School Society (RAS) will be able to host 68 children a day, up from 24 in 2020, after forming new agreements for rental spaces in the community and securing additional grant funding.

A Garage Sale/ Bike Wash Fundraiser, May 7, with the help from many businesses in town like Skookum, Pop-Cycle, The Modern, Forage and Fill, Revy Outdoors, Arrow Head Fishing Adventures, Red Cedar, Revelstoke Snowshoe Company, and the United Church will support new outdoor education programming equipment. 

Launched in 2020, by a group of women hoping to provide reliable, consistent and affordable childcare that supports parents getting back into the workforce, RASS started with 24 spots, at one licensed location. 

The kids spend 90 percent of their time outdoors, making friends and exploring nature, after spending the day in a classroom. However, provincial legislation requires that an indoor space be available, even if it goes unused, thus setting the capacity for the programs.

Before RAS was launched, Revelstoke parents were making it work by any means possible. Some took late lunches in order to pick up their kids after school, others brought their kids to work to sit quietly in a corner until the end of the day, or asked an older student to hang out until they got home from work. Some parents have had to quit working if none of the other options panned out. Usually it was the mom, thereby perpetuating a cycle of inequality in the workplace. This also affects families’ ability to live in Revelstoke, an increasingly expensive resort community. Now, with the Revelstoke After School kids spend time outside and parents are able to work the standard eight hour day stress and worry free.

“So many people in the community benefit from this program,” said Joanne Gawler, Executive Director and Co Founder of RAS. “In our first year we offered care to 24 students a day (38 families) which worked out to helping close to 80 adults go back to work from 9-5 p.m., in turn stimulating the Revelstoke economy. Our program has also added to employment in the child care field, in September 2020 we had five contracted staff, and in September 2021, we had 16 paid employees.”

In May 2021, demand was so overwhelming the Executive Director and the Board began the search for a second, licensed location.

“We are coming to the end of our second year of operations in June, RAS is now playing outdoors with 44 students a day (60 families) which works out to helping 120 adults work,” Gawler said. “In addition to parents, the program also helps older siblings access extra curricular activities by taking the burden of child care off themselves.”

With “in case of bad weather” space in the basement of the Council Chambers building, the society has expanded to the United Church, and once licensed this fall, the Baptist Fellowship Church in Columbia Park.

RAS has further plans for expansion and is working with the Revelstoke School District 19 and its Parent Advisory Councils.

“The need in the community is staggering,” Gawler said. “Every year we reach out to the community families to see what people’s needs are and our waitlists instantly gets longer! So we look for more spaces to host us and appease the needs of licensings indoor space. We have been so fortunate with the amazing landlords that have opened their spaces for us. What started as a little thought, has snowballed into a super cool service for the community.”

The program costs $25 a day, per child, which includes pick up from school and supervised transportation to the program’s activity location, healthy snacks, outdoor programming and a 1:6 facilitator ratio. With the B.C Child Care Operating Funding costs are reduced by $1.40 per child per day and families can access Affordable Child Care Funding if they make less than $110k per household a year; since RAS is a licensed Child Care provider. RAS picks up your child from the 4 schools in town, and plays outdoors with them until 5:30pm. As a not-for-profit, RAS applied for support from the Columbia Basin Trust, and has been able to help six families access care at a subsidized cost in 2021/22.

The society has also received support from Revelstoke organizations including:

  • Okanagan College – providing free first aid course to their staff
  • Silverwinds – with photocopying/craft supplies
  • Save on Foods – with a weeks worth of healthy snacks, once a week
  • Skookum Cycle – Fundraiser this coming May 7
  • Community Connections- support and mentoring
  • The Revy Community Facebook groups – free craft donations and free used outdoor supplies

RAS has received grant funding from:

  • Community Integration Program/ Affected Areas Program -$9,000 towards start up costs, supplies and part-time subsidy to families in need
  • Revelstoke in Aid – $2,000 grant from the City of Revelstoke for bus tickets used to transport Arrow Heights and École des Glaciers students to the program
  • BC Child Care Health and Safety Grant- $7,800 for costs associated with the additional cleaning and sanitizing protocols due to COVID-19
  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association – $12,800 for youth under 30 wages
  • BC Community Gaming Grant-$13,200 to help with rent, utilities and wages
  • Revelstoke Community Foundation- $2,000 to hire an inclusion worker
  • Work BC-$11,000 to create a Manager role

For more information about the program, the fundraiser or to sign up for the fall,  contact Joanne Gawler, Executive Director at 250-683-8663 or