Living next to Lesser Slave Lake reminds Laura Grotolli of her hometown.
Grotolli grew up in a small town in Ontario near a large fresh water beach.
Asked why she chose Slave Lake, Grotolli says, “I was kinda just in the job search, and it was intuition. So far, I’ve been really happy with the decision.”
Grotolli moved to Slave Lake with her boyfriend. He’d worked in the camps north of here, so was a bit familiar with the area. However, no one had invited him to Devonshire Beach, so he had no idea he was driving past such a beautiful spot.
“It’s just this hidden gem,” says Grotolli, of the beach and lake.
“I moved out here because there’s a lot more positions in recreation and fitness,” she says.
Grotolli lived in the Banff and Canmore area for about five years, then in Cochrane. She moved to Slave Lake in mid-April. She enjoys being by a big lake again, instead of ‘land-locked’ in the mountains. She’s the program coordinator for the Town of Slave Lake.
Grotolli studied health and education.
“I was going to be a teacher,” she says, but that didn’t happen.
In high school and during college, Grotolli worked as a lifeguard and swimming instructor. She worked at camps, including one in the UK.
This was an international language camp. The kids came from all over. They spent half their time playing games and the other half learning English.
“I really enjoyed it,” says Grotolli. She especially liked the way that games could cross cultural barriers, kids from different countries could have fun together.
“I just keep kind of coming back to it,” she says about recreation and fitness.
Grotolli has worked in the non-profit, municipal, and private creation sectors.
“My experience for my age has been pretty large,” she says.
Grotolli aims to bring the Slave Lake recreation programs at the Multi Rec Centre back up to the level it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Recreation got hit really hard over COVID,” she says.
A lot of staff was let go and people moved into different fields.
“The goal is to get as many programs going that reach to all ages and demographics,” she adds, “and obviously with affordable prices.”
In the summer, the town organizes Summer Splash, which is a day camp.
Another program running in the summer is Playground Programs, from Monday to Thursday (weather permitting) in Hilda Eben Park. This is a drop-in program from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Kids aged six to 12 can come on their own. Kids under six must be accompanied by a guardian.
Grotolli describes the Playground Program as “another way to get kids active outside and meeting other children.”
When Grotolli isn’t working, she likes to camp, canoe, and kayak. She finds this much easier to do in Slave Lake than when she was in the foothills, where the campgrounds were too busy.
by Pearl Lorentzen