Summer camp connections in Hope

Local camps are participating in summer camp expo on May 4 in Memorial Park

Camp Squeah offers a range of summer camp activities

Camp Squeah offers a range of summer camp activities

Kawkawa Camp and Retreat is celebrating a milestone this summer.

For 40 years, the camp has been a staple in the community providing quality programming focused on moral, spiritual and leadership development.

Located on 20 acres on the eastern shore of Kawkawa Lake, the camp is owned and operated by the Kawkawa Camp Society, which is made up of men and women from the Fraser Valley and surrounding area. To mark the anniversary, an open house will be held on July 5.

“We want to provide a place for kids and families to come, have fun and learn about God and Jesus. A big part of that too is helping kids grow in leadership responsibility,” said program director Dustin Siemens.

“We do all these activities and hopefully there’s an aspect of skill development along the way so the kids are not just doing something to spend time but actually learning new stuff and being able to challenge themselves.”

Kawkawa Camp and Retreat has undergone several site upgrades over the last couple years, including a new outdoor wood burning pizza oven, a new outdoor arena for Israeli dodgeball, and an upgraded version of 4 Square – 9 Square in the Air.

This year, staff are planning to install a new storage shed, make dock improvements, and add a new gazebo in memory of former board chairman Frank Baumen.

Kawkawa Camp and Retreat offers a full range of summer camps for children starting from seven years old, right up through adults at family camp. They also have four youth camps this year, each with a different age range. There are  a variety of activities, everything from wake boarding, swimming, tubing, and kayaking, to arts and crafts, archery, beach volleyball, hiking, and field games.

Kawkawa Camp and Retreat is participating in a summer camp expo this Sunday (May 4) in Memorial Park, along with Camp Squeah. The event will run from 2-5 p.m. and feature games, food, music, camp giveaways, and information booths for parents to connect with the camps.

“We want people to know we’re out here, we’re here to serve them and we have great programming,” said Tim Larson, Camp Squeah summer program director and outdoor education coordinator.

“We think that exposure to the natural environment is healthy for children for the love of outdoors, physical fitness and creativity. The social aspect also really helps to reinforce a respect for others and a sense of belonging. (Summer camp) fosters a healthy sense of independence and interdependence at different ages.”

Camp Squeah, a ministry of the Mennonite Church British Columbia, first opened its doors off Highway 1 in the Fraser Canyon in 1962 with a few cabins, outdoor swimming pool, and dining hall. Since then, its expanded to include a lodge, outdoor gym, low and high ropes course, rock climbing area, crafts hall, games room, numerous meeting spaces, and an extensive trail system. Summer camps include children’s programs ranging in duration from three to six days, backpacking trips, and junior and senior leadership training camps, which encourage the development of skills from a servant leader perspective. The camp also offers a variety of on and off site overnight camps during July and August for kids aged six to 17 as well as for families. This year, Camp Squeah has added a new summer day camp program in August. The Daytrippers day camps are open to families in the Hope area and surrounding communities. Families can register their children for any or all of the days available. During the summer, there can be up to 70 staff working every week for 102 campers. Camp Squeah also hosts Camp Skylark every September, a bereavement camp for children sponsored by the Fraser Canyon Hospice Society.

Another summer camp option is Mountain View Camp, which is operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church on 110 acres west of Hope. Development on the site started in the early 1970s, and the majority was completed by 1990.

Mountain View offers a wide range of activities for young people and families in a residential summer camp setting. The camp has horseback riding, water skiing/wake boarding, canoeing, rock climbing, swimming, wilderness living, nature study, crafts, videography, sports and archery. Mountain View summer camp exists for the purpose of leading people to a clearer understanding of God through Jesus. During the spring and fall, the camp is available to other groups for retreats and conferences. Mountain View Conference Centre has 72 guest rooms with private baths, a large dining room, auditorium and a variety of meeting rooms. Cabins, bunkhouses, 900 camping and RV sites and recreational facilities are also available.

There is a campfire bowl located at the base of a 75’ rock face that seats 300 people. Other facilities include an indoor/outdoor gymnasium, ski boats, canoes, and a craft building.

Recreation, Culture and Airpark Services is also hosting its Summer Fun Day Camp program again this year.

The schedule includes weekly visits to The Art Machine; Story Time in the Park; swimming at Almer Carlson Pool and Dan Sharrers Aquatic Centre; ice skating; and field trips to Bridal Falls Waterpark, Harrison Children’s Festival, Greater Vancouver Zoo, and the Blue Heron Nature Reserve.

In addition, kids will have an opportunity to learn how to plant and grow their own fruits and vegetables, manage their own food composting, and play more games at the rec centre such as basketball, badminton, Omnikin and flag football.