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Summer camp destroyed by McDougall Creek wildfire won’t open until 2025: church

Click to play video: 'Campers get a first look at the destruction at Camp OAC following the McDougall Creek wildfire'
Campers get a first look at the destruction at Camp OAC following the McDougall Creek wildfire
An emotional day at a youth camp in West Kelowna Sunday as many, for the first time, saw what's left of it following the McDougall Creek wildfire. As Victoria Femia reports structures were lost — but so was the history of the camp – Oct 7, 2023

A long-established children’s summer camp that burned down in last year’s devastating McDougall Creek wildfire will remain closed until 2025.

On Wednesday, the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay announced that Camp OAC’s opening has been deferred.

Situated along the shores of Okanagan Lake in the Central Okanagan, the camp had been in operation since 1950 until it was completely razed by the wildfire last August.

Click to play video: 'More wildfire resilience needed in B.C., University of Victoria report says'
More wildfire resilience needed in B.C., University of Victoria report says

“Okanagan Anglican Camp offers such an unforgettable experience for so many young people, and I’m incredibly disappointed that a variety of circumstances beyond our control have forced us into this decision,” Archbishop Lynne McNaughton said.

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“And yet, as a diocesan ministry, Camp OAC is, above all, committed to the safety of young people. When campers return, we want to guarantee that everything is back, and to the highest standard.”

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The church says a dedicated team of volunteers has overseen securing permits and site remediation, such as replacing destroyed cabins and infrastructure.

It also added that a fundraising campaign is underway to help rebuild the camp.

Of the camp’s 31 structures, 26 were destroyed. However, two of the buildings that survived sustained damage from post-wildfire thieves stealing copper pipes.

The church told Global News last year that the summer of 2022 saw camp capacity at 98 per cent.

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4 homes destroyed in Fort Nelson wildfire, no green light yet for residents to return

“Camp OAC is a special place that has been enjoyed by campers for years, and will be enjoyed for years to come,” McNaughton said.

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“While our goals for this year couldn’t be accomplished, I have the utmost confidence that we will return to a greater camp and camp community in 2025.

“I cannot wait to see what we are able to accomplish when we are able to welcome campers back home.”

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