Members of the Parksville Qualicum Elks are hoping to raise awareness about the fully-funded Camp Elkhaven for local youth groups.
Camp Elkhaven, which is located on Denman Island, is a year-round facility designed for youth groups, such as cadets, church groups or minor sports.
Elks member Jan Walker said while the camp is free, it’s not Elk members organizing the groups. She said that’s up to the youth group organizers.
“What Elkhaven offers is all of these facilities to use and there’s no fees, using this camp for children is free,” said Walker, adding that the camp is operated by donations.
Camp Elkhaven for children under 18 years old. Counsellors and lifeguards — since the camp is located by the water — are to be provided by the camp groups’ organizers. Groups also need to bring their own bedding and food.
Indoor facilities at the camp include dining rooms and facilities, kitchen, washrooms and a large dormitory that sleeps 45 people. There is also outdoor facilities such as a cookhouse with picnic tables and outdoor toilets.
For outdoor activities, there is a volleyball court, fire pit and a horseshoe pitch.
In recent years, Walker said, use of the camp has decreased.
“The local knowledge has fallen off big time. I don’t know if kids are not doing these types of holidays anymore,” Walker said. “There are thousands of kids who have never had this opportunity and people don’t know that this camp is there.”
Walker said it’s an opportunity for children whose parents may not be able to afford sending them to camp.
BC Ferries also provides free fares for children attending the camp, said Walker.
The Elks Recreational Children’s Camp Society was founded to provide camping facilities in B.C. for children who might not otherwise have an opportunity for a camping or holiday experience.
The camps, of which there are three in the province, were originally designed to accommodate groups of children with special needs but due to the demand, they are now open to any organized group of children under the age of 18.
Special arrangements can be made for use of Elks camps by groups of adults with special needs.
The camps are available year-round at no charge to user groups. Resident caretakers are on hand to assist groups and to help make the experience enjoyable for all.
The Parksville Qualicum Elks Lodge #589 was instituted in 1993 and has since played an active role in the community.
The mission statement of the Elks is “a Canadian volunteer organization of men and women serving communities.”
Membership for the Parksville Qualicum Elks is open.
The local Elks group meets the second Wednesday of each month for a luncheon meeting and the last Wednesday of the month for a 6 p.m. dinner meeting at the Qualicum Beach Legion.
For more information about Camp Elkhaven, or to join the local Elks lodge, contact Ralph Bunker at 250-752-0233 or Don Walker at 250-248-4395.