If you’re looking for something for your child to do this summer have no fear for the Lake of the Trees Bible Camp opens this July with a new day camp COVID-19 safe program.
The Lake of the Trees Bible Camp has long been a positive fixture for Cariboo life since 1969 according to its current director Tom McIntosh who himself went to the camp in the 1980s while growing up in Williams Lake. The camp left a lasting impression on the young McIntosh as he worked in construction, the food industry, sales, public speaking, as a pastor and a wide range of other careers.
“I served in my college years here a couple of summers and I enjoyed it, thought it was the dream job never thought it’d be a career but in 2001 my wife and I moved up here to take the director role and been here 19 years to serve the children and youth of the Cariboo,” McIntosh said. “It attracted me because my story is about how people cared about me through camp and showed me God’s love through fun and bible learning that I had here. It was such an amazing experience for me.”
Because of the great experiences he had while at camp and growing up in the Cariboo, he said he’s long wanted to provide that for the children and youth of today which continues to drive him today. For him directing this camp is as much about paying that gift forward as it is a job.
At the camp, he gives children of all denominations the chance to learn about and study the bible while having fun in the beautiful setting of the camp with turquoise coloured waters, wildlife and an overall amazing gift of land for them to explore. These activities include tubing, access to a lakeside waterslide, kayaking, canoeing, archery
However, this summer McIntosh said they are retooling their efforts to instead offer day camps under the express consent of Dr. Bonnie Henry. As an accredited camp with the BC Camps Association, he has received clear requirements on how to operate the camp safely for both their staff and campers.
“I like to say we’re building this airplane as we fly it,” McIntosh joked.
To facilitate the day camp during the months of July and August the camp will be offering daily bus rides to and from the camp to bus stops in both 100 Mile House and Williams Lake. While riding the bus campers will sit one to each seat, unless they’re from the same household, to enforce physical distancing. Children from Williams Lake will be able to catch the bus at 7:30 a.m. from the Tim Hortons parking lot and will return at 5:30 p.m. for the pickup while 100 Mile House children will be catching the bus at 8 a.m. and return at 5 p.m. from the Co-Op Gas Station.
At the camp meals and snacks will be provided and activities will take place via a cohort model where campers will be grouped into groups of 10 and will then follow their leader to various activities distanced from other cohorts. McIntosh said some aggressive hand sanitation efforts will also be in place with McIntosh joking he thinks they’ll introduce a new game called “Capture the Lysol Wipes” rather than the classic capture the flag. A temperature check will be conducted before each camper boards the bus and a background check on the family’s health will also be required in the interest of safety while workers will also be symptom checked daily.
The day camps will take place from July 6-10, July 13-17, July 20-24, August 10-14 and August 17-21 for $220 a week and July 27-30 and August 4-7 for $180 for four days. Registration is being done primarily online via www.lakeofthetrees.com though McIntosh said they will accept registration via phone at 250-791-5502 if a family doesn’t have reliable access to the internet.
“We have invested in some really good online registration software that’s secure and confidential,” McIntosh said. “It takes about 20 minutes to gather some health and contact information for the campers and they can pay by etransfer or credit card.”
As the Lake of the Trees Bible Camp is a local camp McIntosh and the board are doing everything they can to make sure that any local child who wants to attend camp will be able to. To that end, if anyone wishes to donate to cover the costs of campers attending camp or to help pay for the bus ride to and from camp every day is invited to do so at their website.
“I think it will be a quieter start at the start of July but by the middle, I think we’ll see every parent in the Cariboo declaring camp an essential service,” he remarked with a laugh.
McIntosh said that the research for the benefits of camp is overwhelming and points to positive growth in child development coming from a camp experience. These can include emotional, physical, social, and spiritual benefits, he said.
If any parents wish to view the facilities before signing their child up for the camp he said they’re happy to arrange a private tour to show them their facilities. All of the leaders, meanwhile, McIntosh added are background checked and trained in how to care for their campers.
“Children and youth have everything to gain and nothing to lose when it comes to the opportunity of camp,” McIntosh said. “We have fought hard to keep camp open. It is with great sadness that most of the camps in B.C. are closed at this point and they’re talking nationally about a 1,000 camps not being able to make it this next year because of this COVID shutdown. We’re fighting to keep camp not only affordable, fine and bible centred for the campers of the Cariboo but we are keeping i sustainable and affordable for generations in the Cariboo.”