Students gather outside the Marion Hall at Shawnigan Lake School as part of the Alectoria School of Magic last week. (Contributed photo)

School of magic teaches youth to be themselves

Organizers hope to run the camp next summer as well

Dozens of muggles were transported to a world of witchcraft and wizardry right here on Vancouver Island last week.

As part of the inaugural Alectoria School of Magic, 48 students from around Vancouver and the Island – including some from the West Shore – gathered at Shawnigan Lake School to participate in a variety of Harry Potter-themed activities, as well as live action role playing, most commonly known as LARPing.

“It was amazing. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. All of the kids seemed really enraptured with it, which was the goal,” said 15-year-old event organizer Maddy Kirstein. “It was fantastic to actually have the kids be so encapsulated by the whole magic feel.”

RELATED: Making magic: school for witches and wizards opens this summer

Participants, who were between the ages of 11 to 17 years old, started the three-day overnight camp by being sorted by the Sorting Hat into either the blue, yellow, green or red house, followed by a feast.

Activities were done with the help of roughly 25 volunteers who came from Quebec, Toronto and as far away as the U.K. to play the roles of professors or prefects.

From there, youth attended four classes per day, studying fables, magical creatures, herbology, divination, astronomy, and the history of magic. The classes taught them life skills as well. For example, the potions class included science and alchemy had chemistry, Kirsten added.

They also had to complete quests which included fighting monsters. In one scenario a Whomping Wollowstyle character tasked youth with finding stones that were hidden around the campus.

In another, representatives from each house were tasked with finding the headmistress’s wand, which had been stolen.

In the end, it was the blue house that garnered the most amount of points to win the coveted House Cup.

While participants had the opportunity to feel like they were actually attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Kirstein hopes they take away much more than that.

“They all had the same goal – they weren’t judging anyone else, which was so great because some of it was weird and you had to pretend that stuff was happening. It’s silly and can sometimes feel like you’re the only one, but all of them were doing it and supporting each other,” said the 15-year-old Oak Bay resident.

“One kid felt underappreciated and they all came up and hugged him and said what he was doing was fantastic. I really want them to take away that whoever you are, you don’t have to hide.”

The camp was such a success Kirstein hopes to run it next year as well.

The school is not affiliated with author J.K. Rowling or Warner Bros. For more information visit

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Students at the Alectoria School of Magic pick out their wands during the three-day camp at Shawnigan Lake School last week. (Contributed photo)

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