More children and youth with disabilities will be able to go to camp thanks in part to a $7-million grant from the Province of B.C.
“Going to camp is a fun-filled and life-changing experience that all children should have the opportunity to enjoy,” said Premier David Eby. “Yet many camps aren’t accessible for children with disabilities, and those that are fill up fast. That’s why we’re helping Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan update and expand its facilities. This will allow more children to experience the many benefits of camp while giving their families and caregivers the time they need to recharge their batteries.”
Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan, located along Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island, has been operating for close to 50 years, welcoming its first campers in 1976. Every year, more than 200 children and adults spend time at the camp, with equipment, programs and services designed specifically for their needs. By ensuring everyone’s social background and learning style are considered, the camp cultivates individual growth and provides campers with a fun experience that encourages development in life skills, self-confidence and independence.
“A stay at Camp Shawnigan has been described by many campers as the best time of their lives. They experience fun and friendship, guided by an amazing staff that provides compassion and high quality of care, making this a magical place,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Through this grant, and with the support of community donors, Easter Seals can continue to provide these special experiences to campers during the summer and provide a modern, universally accessible venue for people with disabilities year round.”
The $7-million grant will allow Camp Shawnigan to upgrade its facilities, which are aging and in need of modernization, and become North America’s first purpose-built, year-round retreat for children, youth and adults with disabilities. The budget for the project is $25 million and funding sources will include private donations. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2025 with completion in 2026.
“I’m so excited to embark on this bold plan for the revitalization of Camp Shawnigan and I am so grateful to the Ministry of Children and Family Development for the incredible support,” said Lisa Beck, president and CEO of Easter Seals British Columbia. “This grant will allow us to push the boundaries of universal and inclusive design and improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of individuals living with disabilities. It will also enable the growth and future sustainability of our programs year round, while allowing us to offer services to other organizations, the corporate community and the community at large.”
Improvements to the eight-hectare lakefront property will include 10 new two-bedroom cabins with kitchenettes, a hotel style dormitory, a large community hall and a gym with an in-ground pool. Designed for people with visible and invisible disabilities, Camp Shawnigan will accommodate all people no matter their abilities, mobility or sensory sensitivities. Accessible landscapes, stunning vistas and environments built to be inclusive will create a sense of fulfilment and community for everyone.
To find out more about the Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan expansion, visit: https://campshawnigan.ca/