WATCH: After closing in 2017 due to a lack of funding, Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan will reopen its doors in August with an ambitious new plan to ensure it never closes again. April Lawrence reports.
There are few things more exciting for 22-year-old Zola Auld and her mom Ann than filling out registration forms for Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan.
“Awesome I actually really love it there, really awesome activities,” said Zola, who has been attending the camp since she was 8-years-old.
After being closed for a year, kids will once again be making a splash at Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan this summer.
“We know families love the camp, rely on the camp, it’s a magical place for their children and an important respite for them,” said President and CEO of BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities Charlene Krepiakevich.
After 50 years welcoming children with disabilities, a decline in donations forced Easter Seals to close the camp, and one in Squamish, last year. It was a major blow to hundreds of families like the Aulds.
“The sense of that loss was profound, I mean it really was profound,” said Ann Auld.
“Very devastating because what I found about it I was in shock, and I was going to camp since I was young since I was eight,” said Zola.
Now for four weeks this August Camp Shawnigan will be back in full swing at $3600 per child they’re still hoping to fundraise to cover the costs. But they hope a major shift in how they operate will eventually make them less reliant on donations.
“How do we become a little bit more entrepreneurial and create social enterprises that could help fund the programs?” said Krepiakevich.
The BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities is is launching a $10 million fundraising campaign to redevelop the entire site.
“Pretty much all the buildings will be demolished except for the gymnasium and the pool will stay,” she said.
The money earned from the year-round rental of the facilities would then help fund the four-week Easter Seals summer camp for people like Zola Auld, who is already counting down the days to her favourite week of the year.
“This year I’m looking forward to definitely introduce myself to more new friends, like more campers and more parents,” Zola said.