The Camp Choice team including Phil Moore, Corisa Bell, John Patricelli, Dawn Bourque, Colette Gerber, Sam Hermez, Mikhail Moore and Tom Hermez. (Special to The News)

The Camp Choice team including Phil Moore, Corisa Bell, John Patricelli, Dawn Bourque, Colette Gerber, Sam Hermez, Mikhail Moore and Tom Hermez. (Special to The News)

Camp Choice returns to Zajac Ranch after COVID interruption

Maple Ridge kids benefit from unique camp on Stave Lake

Camp Choice at Zajac Ranch is back this year, but the fundraising has been set back by COVID-19.

Camp Choice director Corisa Bell said the program serves a group of young people who need a week at camp. There are hundreds of children in our communities who are at-risk of drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, and suicide, she said. These kids do not get the opportunity to just “be a kid,” because they are faced with adult situations and choices every day.

It costs $1,000 per youth to send them to a facilitated camp for a week. The organizers of Camp Choice have not been able to hold their annual gala fundraiser to support this cause for the past two years. Still, this week they are attending the camp on the shores of Stave Lake in Mission from Aug. 8-12, and the organizers are asking for donations.

“Coming out of the Covid era the youth really wanted this camp to happen, and one way or another we are making it happen and trusting the funds will come,” said Phil Moore, vice-chair of Camp Choice BC.

Bell, who is running for mayor of Maple Ridge in the fall election, describes the camp as being life changing for some of the kids who attend.

“It’s important for society to guide, teach, and be there for our children while they are developing into adults,” she said. “I’m in my 40’s now, and grateful society has come to a place of understanding that what affects us as adults is often the trauma experienced as children. I’m inspired every day that emotional intelligence is something we can discuss openly.”

READ ALSO: Young Lower Mainland father wouldn’t be where he is today without community support

“The key is to move through trauma,” Bell added. “When youth have the skills to be able to do this, their future trajectories can look different than if they were left to be silent, like previous generations.”

She said the camp emphasizes fun and community, and youth learn responsibility, choice and leadership skills. The hope is they will take their positive energy and desire for change back to their communities to create a positive, lasting impact.

For more information, or to donate, see their website campchoicebc.com

READ ALSO: Environmental leader to run for Maple Ridge city council


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