Summer camps for all kids

Queen Alexandra Summer Camp perfect for children of all abilities

Oak Bay’s Isaac

Oak Bay’s Isaac

Traditional summer programming doesn’t work for 12-year-old Isaac.

Even with an aide, summer camps are limiting for the Oak Bay youngster, financially and behaviourally.

“He has lots of stuff going on,” says mom Jennifer (last name withheld at the family’s request).

Staff at Queen Alexandra Summer Camps understand the issues, and the youngster himself.

Isaac’s complex, invisible challenges include post traumatic stress disorder, sensory processing problems and severe learning disabilities.

That means he doesn’t fit in traditional funding boxes, making it tough for a for a mom living on a fixed, low income to afford a luxury such as summer camp.

“QA summer camp is the one thing they look forward to in the summer. This is their version of a wonderful summer experience,” Jennifer said. “I wouldn’t be able to do it by myself and I wouldn’t want to take that [away] from them.”

Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, located on-site at the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health, funds programs for children with disabilities and health challenges around the Island. To date the foundation has donated more than $749,000 to the camp where grants are used specifically for camp leader salaries, transportation and camp supplies.

At ‘QA’ as it’s affectionately shortened, he has some form of continuity, Jennifer said.

Camp leader Lucas Dellabough has been at the camp for more than five years, first as a volunteer, and now as a staff member. That creates a lasting relationship with Isaac, one he may have relied on this year when he attended camp for the first time without his big sister at his side.

“Isaac and Annalise being in camp here is wonderful. The staff are so well trained, they understand the children’s disabilities,” Jennifer said. “There’s consistency in the staff. They’ve been a blessing.”

Camp leaders receive a month of training each June provided by Island Health professionals as well as staff from the University of Victoria, Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, Power to Be, Community Options for Families and behaviour consultants.

Isaac and Annalise attended camps together for years. It was always a safe environment where they could explore summer activities at a skill-appropriate rate. This year, Isaac came alone – a huge milestone in his social development, said team leader Taryn Gmitroski.

“For him to be willing to come without her was a big thing,” Gmitroski said. “He came and was keen and instantly bonded with the ‘guy group.’ He’s formed a lot of different bonds with different groups.”

Isaac professes to favour  pizza making, water play – last week he was the instigator of a cardboard jump in the middle of the slip ‘n’ slide – dam building, and the adapted bicycles.

“He can’t ride a bike,” mom stage whispered so Isaac won’t hear.

But he can at QA Summer Camp. The bikes are sized for larger kids but adapted – for example with three wheels for balance, a large flat back deck for scooter mode, hand pedals or tandem seats.

“Every kid loves to ride. it’s a right of passage. It’s liberating and important,” Jennifer said.

Campers also love the bike rodeo, just one activity alongside outings to places like PISE or to mini golf, swim or kayak.

The Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island hopes to raise $55,000 this year for QA summer camps.Visit childrenshealthvi.org to learn how to help.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Johnathan Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight charges including sex-related offences against children and accessing, possessing and making or publishing child pornography. (Courtesy of Saanich Police)
Sentencing date moved for Saanich nanny guilty of child porn charges

Johnathon Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight sex offences against children

(Google Maps)
Sophisticated glass-removal crime returns to downtown Victoria

Several businesses on Fort Street targeted overnight, say police

Forty-two residential properties in Oak Bay were assessed the speculation and vacancy tax in 2019 for a total of $693,000. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
74 Oak Bay property owners paid $693,000 in spec tax

42 properties were assessed with the SVT in 2019

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich repeals, reschedules two public hearings for consideration of new information

Move to hold public hearings for second time ‘very rare,’ mayor says

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Most Read