Weather was again the main story at the annual Camp Squeah paddle-a-thon held on April 18 and 19, but this time—unlike some years—for all the right reasons. Sunny skies, warm weather, little wind and no major mishaps meant that the 31 paddlers who finished their two-day sojourn down the Fraser River arrived energized and in great spirits.
The convoy left Hope on the morning of April 18 in kayaks, canoes and two 10-seater voyageurs, and stopped for the night in Chilliwack, where a volunteer crew made supper. After a hearty breakfast the next morning, provided by Theo Epp and his crew, the paddlers resumed the journey, with lunch provided by more volunteers in Mission, and wrapped up in late afternoon on the banks of the Fraser in Ft. Langley.
While camaraderie and enjoying nature are always a great reason to get together, the paddlers who make the voyage every year do so for a good cause: raising money for the camp bursary fund that supports summer volunteer staff returning to college or university in the fall. Each participant must raise at least $500 in order to make the trip. This year, the total was $51,000. Over 17 years, the paddlers have raised some $760,000 for the cause.
At the final wrap-up and supper at the marina park, camp director Rob Tiessen praised all who had a part in the event, from paddlers to sponsors and ground crew.
“We are so grateful for the paddlers, for people who support the paddlers, for the great weather we’ve had, and for the volunteers who came together,” he said, noting the spirit of cooperation from a number of Mennonite Church B.C. congregations. “Different churches with different pockets of representation helped make this a community event.”
Every year, the camp awards a canoe to the paddler who raises the most money. This year, the prize went to Josh Kuepfer of Peace Mennonite Church in Richmond, who raised nearly $4,000, and who will be on camp staff this summer.