After close to 20 years of fun in the summer sun, Camp Goodtimes is leaving Camp Byng in Roberts Creek for a new home in Maple Ridge.
The Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon Division, made the announcement just before Christmas.
Camp Byng has been the long-time home to Camp Goodtimes, a free summer camp for children with a history of cancer.
Barbara Kaminsky, CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon Division, said they have mixed feelings about making the move. She said the Sunshine Coast and Camp Byng have been sources of inspiration and hope for so many years, and it's hard to say good-bye.
"With any major move you have mixed feelings," Kaminsky said. "There is sadness that we no longer have a relationship with the people on the Sunshine Coast. On the other hand, we will make new friends in Maple Ridge, so that is a positive for sure."Kaminsky said the quest for a long-term site goes back a couple of years.
"We have spent the majority of our years with Camp Goodtimes at Camp Byng, and it's been a wonderful experience," she said. "But as times change and our numbers have grown, we require a larger site and need a facility during summer weeks when the Scouts would not need it. We need a site for prime weeks during the summer and a facility all our own."
She said it was a challenging exercise trying to find a site that was larger than Camp Byng, had the amenities they needed and was also a reasonable distance within the Lower Mainland.
Finally, a site in Maple Ridge near Loon Lake was found, and the deal was finalized in mid-December.
Loon Lake is part of the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Forest demonstration forest land.
"We have the ability to protect for up to five weeks a year with the possibility of adding two more weeks," Kaminsky said. "We have about 55 kids per week who attend Camp Goodtimes during the summer. This new facility allows us to host more than 250 children this summer. This is really good news for us, and I think all the kids are looking forward to celebrating our 20th anniversary this summer in this great, new facility."
Kaminsky said Camp Byng has been a lovely setting for Camp Goodtimes, and through the years, more than 1,500 children have enjoyed the summer experience of a lifetime, thanks to the generosity of many people on the Sunshine Coast.
"For kids to be able to go to such a wonderful place like Camp Byng, it has been a wonderful treat for them," she added. "We so appreciated the staff at Camp Byng who went above and beyond the call of duty. The whole community has been tremendous. From the volunteers who have offered time to help, the financial aid from average citizens and the help and support of so many businesses providing goods and services, Camp Goodtimes at Camp Byng would never have happened without all of that support.
"It's very moving to see how people get involved when you have a cancer camp. The Sunshine Coast has been very good to us, and we're hoping Maple Ridge will do the same."