What is the Easter Seals Camping Program?
Easter Seals Camps give BC children with disabilities the chance to discover their individual abilities. Camp sessions are carefully planned and designed to encourage these children to gain new skills, develop new friendships, gain confidence and independence – skills that will help them to live lasting and fulfilling lives. On average, over 800 children with disabilities from all over BC attend a one-week camping session at one of three Easter Seals camps located across the province – Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island, Squamish near Vancouver and Winfield in the Okanagan. It is because of fundraising events like the Money Mart Easter Seals 24 Hour Relay that the BC Lions Society is able to operate the camping program at no cost to the families, many of whom are already financially burdened by the costs associated with raising children with special needs.
‘Camp Squamish has become a very special place to us. When we drop Paul off each summer, I am always amazed at the welcome we get. The camp counselors are dressed up in theme and we are greeted with much singing and laughter. The staff members have so much energy and give themselves completely to the kids!’
‘Parents of special needs children are on call 24 Hours a day. There is medication to be given, extra help with simple everyday activities. The break from this responsibility is very much appreciated. While our son is having a great time at camp, we have an opportunity to re-energize, give more time to our other children and function as more of a typical family. Camp gives us that opportunity.’
Alison Scholefield, parent of Easter Seals Camper, Paul Scholefield
Why are Easter Seals Camps different?
Each camp is specially designed and equipped to accommodate children with special needs. The addition and maintenance of ramps and lifts, the modification of doorways, washrooms, the purchase of specialized sports equipment like climbing walls and giant swings are just a few of the expenses unique to these kinds of operations. The special needs of these children also require Easter Seals Camps to have very low ratio of counselors to campers. For every 3 campers we have a designated counselor compared to other camps that may have a ratio of 8 to 1. This low ratio ensures that counselors have the time to fully understand the individual needs of their campers and the ability to provide the attention and assistance they require. We also provide medical staff to ensure the needs of our campers are well taken care of.