The future of Camp Winfield

The future of three Easter Seals summer camps will be the focus of a public forum at Camp Winfield tonight. 

BC Easter Seals run summer camps out of Shawnigan Lake, Squamish and Winfield for kids with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. 

Vernon businessman Rob Ellis sits on the board of directors for BC Easter Seals BC/Yukon. 

"Tonight's public forum is basically to get some knowledge out on what is going on presently with Easter Seals BC/Yukon and to enlighten the general public as to the status of this society as a whole." Ellis added, "Also, to bring some light as to what is coming forward for Easter Seals Camp Winfield."

In November 2017 a letter was posted on the Easter Seals website to its supporters stating that due to a lack of funds it will be suspending activities in its Shawnigan Lake camp and Squamish camp for summer 2018 — Camp Winfield was spared.

The letter stated, "It is critical at this time for us to pause in order to reimagine a new model on how to operate our programs because our current one, in today’s charity landscape, is no longer working."

News on the future of the Shawnigan Lake and Squamish camps will also be discussed tonight at Camp Winfield. 

"The public forum now is basically to address a lot of questions and concerns that are out in the public. To fill people in on what exactly is happening," explained Ellis.

The BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities and Easter Seals BC/Yukon have been working together to bring services to families with children with disabilities for 65 years, however, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the camp program.

"Part of the story, is in this day and age raising funds for nonprofit societies or organizations is very difficult. Without support from the government [and other agencies], it does make it a challenge to run programs," said Ellis. He added, "So bringing to light some of this information will broaden the expectations or knowledge to the general public. There is a lot of stakeholders involved in all sorts of charities and right now a lot of charities are struggling."

In 2014, millions of dollars and hundreds of volunteers were used to renovate Camp Winfield. 

The project was spearheaded by Ellis, kept secret from the Easter Seals, and took a year to plan.

On a September day, 285 volunteers showed up and 'spruced up' the camp by building outbuildings, picnic tables along with landscaping.

The Winfield Camp began operating in 1968; Squamish followed in 1972 and Shawnigan lake opened in 1976.

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