Bowen Island camp for visually impaired facing funding shortage

WATCH: Alex Jurgensen joins BC1 to talk about the funding shortage at Camp Bowen

A camp on Bowen Island catering to visually impaired and blind people for more than 50 years is turning to crowdfunding to secure its future.

After years of uncertainty and funding shortages, Camp Bowen is now trying to set up a sustainable fund.

With a target of raising $1.2 million over the next year, the sum is expected to fund the program for about 12 years to come.

“Now, more than ever, our kids are missing out on learning fundamental skills needed for everyday life,” says community coordinator for the Bowen Island region, Alex Jurgensen.

“Most of these skills are not taught in schools, but this has always been a clear need Bowen has filled.”

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The 52-year-old Camp Bowen has been providing a retreat for the visually impaired and blind in B.C., starting out as an initiative of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).

However, in 2010, the program came close to shutting down due to a CNIB decision to sell the Bowen Island Lodge where the camp is located.

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Thanks to generous private donations by the Bowen Island community and others, the camp has managed to survive until now. However, the funds are not enough to enable Camp Bowen to run at full capacity.

“Our goal is to create a community fund that will make sure we do not have to turn people away,” says Jurgensen.

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The money being raised through crowdfunding will be used to set up a fund to be managed by the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired and the Canadian Council of the Blind B.C.–Yukon Division.

If the crowdfunding goals are not reached, Jurgersen says the program will continue to run at half capacity while looking into grants that might help the program stay afloat.

Those interested in donating to Camp Bowen can go here.

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