The local Easter Seals camp on Government Road was on track to operate this summer for the first time since 2017.
Then COVID-19 hit.
Easter Seals BC and Yukon president and CEO Lisa Beck said the organization was able to recover financially, receiving enough funding to reopen, after closing two of its three camps in the province three years ago because of declining revenue.
"We did have the funding earmarked to operate this past summer but unfortunately, with the health order shutting down camps, we weren't permitted to run it," she said. "We're really hoping that next year, things will get back on track and we'll be able to operate for five weeks of our in-person camp experience that we have traditionally done there."
When it is safe to reopen, Beck hopes that there will be more programming than ever before by adding camps outside of summertime on weekends or spring break "to give more opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to come and enjoy the outdoors."
"We want to be able to fully utilize the camp and provide that experience year-long," she said.
However, the site needs some maintenance and upgrades to get back to a strong point, so the Squamish Lions are hosting a fundraiser on Oct. 17. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the camp, people can bring paper for shredding for a minimum donation of $10 per banker box.
Event organizer Sharon Hansen said the industrial shredder truck holds between 350 and 400 banker boxes worth of paper.
It's been a successful option for a sister club in the Deep Cove, which expanded from hosting one truck annually to two trucks twice a year. At its event this summer, filled two trucks in just two hours.
"We're hoping to do it quarterly or every six months if that's doable," Hansen said. "I think it would be a great asset for the area."
Hansen said crews have held several work parties since July, with Lions Club members coming from Pemberton, Port Coquitlam and Deep Cove to lend a hand.
"We've done a lot of cleanup of the outside grounds, removed a lot of brush and whatnot," said Hansen, adding that an arborist removed some trees, with roughly 20 more slated for removal next year.
Despite the help, there are still costs associated with procuring wood, paint and stain for projects like renovating the decks.
"The funds deplete rapidly," she said.
Further work, such as roof repairs, will need to be done by younger volunteers, Hansen said. Visit squamishlions.ca to get in touch.
Hansen said the Lions anticipate missing some fundraisers in the coming months, such as selling chilli fundraiser at cross-country skiing events at Whistler Olympic Park, and they're unsure if January's Robbie Burns Dinner will proceed.
Despite lacking in-person camps this year, Beck said Easter Seals successfully pivoted virtually, welcoming 250 participants online for major camp cornerstones such as a talent night, singing songs, doing crafts, and dancing.
With such great response, Easter Seals added weekly online art, dance, and music classes as a pilot in September and is working to formally implement it into its regular programming.
"We've become an online community as well, whether we had planned to or not," she said. "That's a nice outcome of this unfortunate pandemic that we're all experiencing."
For more, visit eastersealsbcy.ca.