College partnership builds on success

Agur Lake got a bigger boost than they expected when they signed an agreement with the residential construction program at Okanagan College to build the first of the cabins needed to make the respite camp a reality.

Student carpenter James Krysta cuts a piece of lumber for a section of one of two cabins (background) under construction for the Agur Lake Camp Society at the Okanagan College campus. The cabins will be moved to the camp location near Summerland are being built through the combined efforts of the college

Student carpenter James Krysta cuts a piece of lumber for a section of one of two cabins (background) under construction for the Agur Lake Camp Society at the Okanagan College campus. The cabins will be moved to the camp location near Summerland are being built through the combined efforts of the college

Agur Lake got a bigger boost than they expected when they signed an agreement with the residential construction program at Okanagan College to build the first of the cabins needed to make the respite camp a reality.

Instead of the one cabin the students expected to build over the course of the term, the Agur Lake Camp Society is going to be receiving a second cabin this year for the wilderness camp they are building outside of Summerland.

“This is an amazing moment, two cabins,” said Barb Hatton, president of the society, addressing the group of Okanagan College students who have been working on the project since March. “I think this is going to be something of a lasting legacy in the community that you will be able to take your families to see what you have done and how you have been able to help this society.”

Instructor Daryl Butler explains that his students were eager to work on the project.

“We had 15 people that were ready to go. It’s more of a matter of getting the material in time to keep them busy,” said Butler. “We were fortunate that we were able to start a second one and it looks like we will be able to finish it.”

Materials for each of the cabins were donated by local lumberyards: the first by Tim-Br Mart, the second by Home Hardware. Both are being constructed on the grounds of the Okanagan College Penticton campus before being moved to the camp site.

The goal the society is working towards is to create a barrier-free wilderness camp and recreational facility for children and adults with special needs and their families. It’s a project that has been underway since 2004, when the society acquired a 99-year lease on a four-acre parcel of land from the Agur family, later adding a lease on 34 acres of Crown land.

Now, with the second of the planned six cabins on the way, the project is much closer to fruition, though Hatton cautions there is still a lot of work to do before they can open the facilities for use.

“I don’t think it will be put in use this summer but we will have a special camp day,” said Hatton, adding that they hope to open the camp for visitors next year. “This year, we’re just gong to welcome people to come up and have day use and look at what we have achieved and what will be ready for next year.”

The cabins, when in use, will be able to house six people. And the family can be many kinds of relationships, said Hatton, from friends to relatives, as long as 20 per cent of the sign in register are people with special needs.

“There will be room for six people to sleep. How you manage that is up to you,” she said. “Next year, our focus will be RV sites. We will have the cabins in place and then we will have places for people to bring their RV up.”