Shortly after Canada Day weekend, we flew out to Calgary for a round of West Coast visits. In our trusty hire car, we drove over 1500kms from Calgary to Vancouver, visiting so many incredible camps and seeing some ridiculous scenery along the way. Our first stop was at Easter Seals Camp Horizon, which had a pretty eventful few weeks including 2 full evacuations during/after the floods that hit Alberta.
Despite this (and the ensuing bug storm which was like nothing we have ever experienced), everyone was so upbeat and friendly. One of the NYQUEST staff had gotten an Easter Seals logo tattoo (half a dare and half due to the impact that camp had on him), which was so awesome. A short drive later, we arrived at YMCA Camp Chief Hector which has an incredible location, surrounded by mountain ranges. We had a quick visit there with a Hungarian staff who is experiencing her third Canadian camp kitchen! Dedication. Tim Hortons Children’s Ranch in Kananaskis was our next stop, where we visited with a kitchen staff member who had been working since February and was having the greatest time.
After Tim Hortons, we made our way north of Calgary to Camp BB Riback, where we caught up with 2 international staff there who were leading a campout (one of whom previously worked at the Children’s Ranch). After a tour up to the horse pasture, we settled in for the night. What a day! The following morning we were up early and on the road to Camp Alexo, part of the Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer. We arrived at brunch – waffles and strawberries and whipped cream! Such a treat. The director and one NYQUEST staff there took us on a tour of the property, which has one of the most interesting histories of any campsite we have been to. It used to be a bustling mining village, and remnants of the settlement could be seen all over! We hiked up to an amazing lookout point where the old graveyard was located. From Camp Alexo, we had a monster drive on our hands through the Rocky Mountains, along the Icefields Parkway with a quick stop/photo op at Lake Louise.
We passed through Glacier National Park and finally arrived at Easter Seals Camp Winfield, to visit with our first NYQUEST staff there. We enjoyed a tour of the site as the sun was setting – this camp is the first that we’ve ever seen to have a dedicated water slide, not attached to any pool or lake! We then made the short drive to a hostel in Kelowna, where we stayed the night. Bright and early the following morning, we continued west and visited Camp Luther and Zajac Ranch Camp, where the 5 internationals gave us a fantastic tour. They even humoured us into taking some exceptional group jumping photos!
Always appreciated. From Zajac Ranch, we made our way even further west towards, and through, Vancouver (with a quick fish and chip pit stop at Horseshoe Bay), up past Squamish, to Camp Summit. Summit is an incredibly special place, and we had a great tour with the crew there. Camp Summit also has a four-year NYQUESTer amongst its’ ranks, who somehow managed to wake at 4am the following morning to see us off for Vancouver Island. After a very sleepy drive, we boarded the first ferry over to Nanaimo and a relatively short drive later, we arrived at Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan! Our only participant here had had a pretty eventful week, after a day off climbing expedition turned into a near-deal experience with an airlift and a place on the front page of the local newspaper. Luckily, he lived to tell the tale and was able to continue working at camp with a newfound appreciation for his mobility, especially when working with physically disabled campers. Heartwarming! From Shawnigan, we made our way back to the mainland and flew back east to Toronto. Another successful, exhausting round of camp visits done!