A Shuswap youth and children’s camp with strong ties to Kamloops is counting on connections it’s built through the years to bolster its bid for an Aviva Community Fund prize.
Eagle Bay Camp is vying for a $55,000 grant for a camp freezer/cooler, but it’s bid is ranked 17th in the national competition. It needs to make it into 10th spot to it advance to final judging.
“We’re up against some good projects,” said Connie Alger, a TRU early childhood education co-ordinator and a camp volunteer in recent years. “If we can get some more supporters, I think we do have a very good chance.”
The camp is operated by the Alliance churches in the Interior and has an interdenominational program during summer months. In May and June, it operates as a secular retreat, hosting public school class visits from Kamloops.
“Kamloops has been highly represented in terms of infrastructure and development,” said George Konrad, a longtime volunteer and camp board member.
Camp director Ric Cyr said the freezer/cooler project has a connection with those visits, since some kids come from low-income families and their camp stays are made possible by a sponsorship program.
“We find many of these kids don’t get enough food at home,” he said. “We feed them like they’ve never eaten before. Teachers sometimes tell us that the kids don’t eat very well in school with the meal programs.”
“You can see this, for some kids, it’s a different experience for them to be able to get food,” Alger said. “They relax when the know there’s stability for them every day.”
The camp dining hall is being upgraded, so winning the prize would be a crowning glory.
“We need to be in the Top 10 in our category; right now we’re at 17th,” he said. “We need, probably, 500 to 600 votes extra a day to get into the judging.”
The Shuswap project is not in direct competition with the Clearwater bid for the Skye and Courtney Buck Memorial Courtyard, since the two are in different funding categories, Alger noted. The camp seeks $55,000 while the Raft River elementary PAC is aiming for $100,000 to $150,000.
“We’re really hopeful in this round because there is an opportunity to vote for more than one thing,” she added.
Online voting determines whether projects make it to the final cut, where judges decide which ones will win a piece of the $1-million annual prize.
Participants are allotted 15 votes each for the week leading up to the voting deadline of Dec. 11. That means if they vote daily for Clearwater, they still have five extra votes that could go to Eagle Bay Camp, Alger said.
Her family has grown fond of the camp.
“There’s a huge leadership program for young people that builds a lot of capacity,” for their future potential, she said. “My husband and I were totally impressed.”
They were so impressed that they volunteered at the camp while their kids were attending and have returned every summer since.
Online voting is done through the competition website, avivacommunityfund.org.