Agur Lake Camp nears completion

May 20 trip on Kettle Valley Steam Railway will raise funds for barrier-free wilderness camp for children and adults with special needs

Brian Liberorate is all smiles in the seat of the trail rider cycle powered by volunteers Lindsay Sierhuis (front) and Kurt Becker along one of the trails west of Summerland where the Agur Lake Camp Society is building a barrier-free facility for use by people with special needs. In the background is volunteer Ryan Japling.

Brian Liberorate is all smiles in the seat of the trail rider cycle powered by volunteers Lindsay Sierhuis (front) and Kurt Becker along one of the trails west of Summerland where the Agur Lake Camp Society is building a barrier-free facility for use by people with special needs. In the background is volunteer Ryan Japling.

This summer looks to be a very busy one for the Agur Lake Camp Society, as their dream begins to take substance in the wilderness near Summerland.

“We’ve got trails that are going in, we are building our third cabin right now. It is a beautiful place this time of the year, the leaves are coming in and everything is greening up nicely” said Carla Ohmenzetter, who took over as chair of the society last month.

It’s a dream that began in 2004, a dream of creating a barrier-free wilderness camp for children and adults with special needs, where they could share an outdoor experience with their families.

With the camp taking shape, Ohmenzetter said they hope to do a “soft opening” this year. That means inviting just a few families to make use of the facilities to test them out.

“We know there are going to be a few glitches, and because it is a bit of a remote site and we are catering to people with special needs, we wanted to do a dry run,” said Ohmenzetter. “See how things are working and what we need to improve on before we do an actual grand opening.”

On May 20, there is a chance to help out by taking a ride on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway, which is partnering with the camp society for the third consecutive year.

The train departs at 1:30 p.m. from Prairie Valley Station, but this time there will be no ticket fee for the ride. Instead, passengers will be invited to make a cash donation to Agur Lake Camp before boarding for a 90-minute round trip. Reservations are required, however, by calling 1-877-494-8424 or 250-494-8422.

“People are very generous; they are generous to the KVR, and by us being involved with them, they are quite generous to the camp society as well,” said Ohmenzetter, adding that there are other connections to the railway.

“They’re worked really hard at making the train barrier free, so people that are in wheelchairs or need to have walkers and things like that have access to the train, and of course, that is what we are all about, we are building a camp for people with special needs and their families,” she said.

That means, she said, that many of the group’s supporters, who may be using wheelchairs or other devices, will be able to ride the train as well.

“The KVSR has been very supportive of Agur Lake right from the very beginning. I think it’s one of their ways of giving back to the community but also supporting what they see as a really worthy cause,” said Ohmenzetter. “Partially it is a fundraiser for us, but partially it is raising awareness of what we are doing.”

“It’s actually coming together and the community support has been overwhelmingly amazing. So many people have got behind us and are supporting us, it’s just wonderful,” said Amanda Lewis, a longtime director of the camp society and herself a person with special needs. “It’s something you can’t put a value on.”

According to Ohmenzetter, Agur Lake Camp is very close to being fully functional, but developing it will be an ongoing process.

“I think everyone recognizes it is a phased project, a little bit at a time as the money comes in. But as far as being able to use it as a camp and hosting people, having people come there and use the facilities, we are getting very, very close,” she said. “Because we are catering to people with special needs, there are certain things that need to be done right. Safety is an issue, and comfort.”

Ultimately there will be about 10 cabins on the site, as well as RV space for about 20 units. But the crowning jewel will be the eventual construction of a lodge.

“The cabins are really nice, but we really want the idea of a gathering area. So with the lodge will come more dining facilities, and really give opportunity for people to interact in a group session,” said Ohmenzetter. Currently, the gathering area is an outside site. “We’ve got a beautiful meadow that is right by the entrance and it overlooks the lake. We are building a gazebo there this year, so there will be a place for people to come together and share the camp experience.”

 

Just Posted

A storm watch has been issued for the Okanagan, Kootenays and Columbia regions of B.C. (Calvin Dickson photo)
Another severe thunderstorm watch issued for the Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for thunderstorms that may produce strong wind gusts, hail and heavy rain

The South Okanagan Tim Hortons raised over $4,000 through the three day orange doughnut promotion with 100 per cent of proceeds going to to the Residential School Survivors Society. The owner of these locations matched the amount. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
South Okanagan Tim Hortons raises over $8K for residential school survivors

More than $4,000 worth of doughnuts were purchased over three days

Justin Fotherby,17, and Ashley McMillan, 17 have been chosen for an invitation only competition that sees 20 of Canada’s top swimmers per event vying for a spot at the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Submitted)
Penticton swimmers off to Olympic trials

The pair are eyeing a spot on the Canadian team heading to the Tokyo Olympics

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Outdoor skating rink back at Penticton council

City staff recommend going forward with rink which could host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

A young child has been taken to hospital after being struck by a vehicle on 30th Avenue in Vernon Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Investigation ongoing after child struck by vehicle downtown Vernon

A young child was taken to hospital Friday with undetermined injuries

David Larsen, left, and co-host Tony Peyton. (K96.3/Twitter)
Popular Kelowna radio host dies after battle with cancer

David Larsen was half of the longtime Kelowna morning-show duo David and Tony

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

Most Read