Ever since a Grade 6 gym class when she was paired with a girl with Down syndrome, Sylvia Mott has wanted to help disabled people.
“She got so much joy just being with someone, I thought it would be really neat to help people like that, and I’ve just been interested in it ever since,” she said.
This interest makes all the difference. Through a babysitting job, the 14-year-old Summerlander was saving money so she could attend summer camp. When she ended up raising $100 over what she needed, she decided to do something with the money that was for somebody else, instead of spending this money on herself.
Mott decided to give her money to the Agur Lake Camp. The camp, which is still being developed, caters to special-needs children and adults, as well as their families.
“It would just be neat for people with disabilities to just be around with other people and have a lot of opportunities, like they can swim if they want, and be outdoors, because I really like camping and stuff, and I think that everyone should have the opportunity to go camping, no matter if they have some difficulties or not,“ said Mott.
As well as donating the $100, Mott said she’d be looking at donating some of her time at the camp when it opens its doors next summer as well, possibly volunteering.
Christina MacMaster, the society manager, said that Mott’s donation was much appreciated by the society.
“Our thoughts, our feelings on this is it’s absolutely wonderful someone would take it on themselves to see that need and fulfill it by making a donation, and especially when it’s a younger person,” she said.
The people behind Agur Lake Camp are no stranger to donations and fundraisers; in fact, the camp’s construction is primarily based on them.
“We’re a not-for-profit, and when we are open eventually we hope to be cost-recovery, but while we build it’s completely by donations and volunteers,” said MacMaster.
As well as donations from individuals such as Mott, there have been a number of fundraising events and other supports for the camp, such as charity rides on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway, proceeds from local events such as Fest-of-Ale and a partnership with the Penticton Okanagan College campus which saw a number of cabins being constructed as part of a carpentry course, with the materials being donated from Tim-Br Mart and Home Hardware.
“It’s been phenomenal,” said MacMaster. “The community is completely, 100 per cent behind Agur Lake Camp Society and the development of the camp.”
For their latest fundraising effort, the camp wants people to donate their soon-to-be outdated pennies. There will be cabin-shaped collection boxes scattered throughout the South Okanagan for their collection, and all proceeds will be going to the Agur Lake Camp.
Camp organizers are hoping to have a soft opening later this summer in August or September to try out the facilities before officially opening in earnest next summer.
For more information on Agur Lake Camp, visit www.agurlakecamp.ca.