Agur Lake Camp has been a community initiative every step of the way.
The idea of a wilderness camp for families with special needs children was born in Bonnar Dowler's mind after his son was born with a severely malformed heart in 1974. Months of attending their child created intense stress for Bonnar and his wife but there were no community supports or counseling available to help them or give them time to nourish their own well-being. Bonnar believed there was a better way.
The little boy died within the year but the idea for a camp lived on in Bonnar's heart. He eventually moved to Summerland and joined the Kiwanis Club in Oliver, BC, encouraged by the work they did for children. He talked about his idea for a camp that would provide a setting for families with special needs children renewing themselves in the wilderness. He enlisted some support from the Kiwanis Club, and their President, Peter Armstrong, (who became ALCS's first President) but with friends he did much of the leg work himself.
2001, Bonnar met Robin Agur and discovered that he owned land west of Summerland that he might consider donating. Robin took Bonnar up for "a quick look" and ended up spending the day exploring the wilderness land next to Agur Lake.
May 2004, Peter Armstrong was instrumental in incorporating Agur Lake Camp society and obtaining our charity status. This laid the way for the ALCS to begin steps towards acquiring volunteers, raising money and making a business plan.
July 2007, the Robin Agur family signed a 99 year lease on four acres of their land for use by the ALCS for one dollar per year. The land is on the lake, just south of the Agur's hundred year-old log cabin. When the lease was signed, Robin Agur kick-started a fund raising campaign by contributing $10,000. On the same day, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen approved amending a rural land-use bylaw to allow for construction of the camp.
August 2007, John Glaspie (Ministry Tourism, Sports & Art) made a verbal commitment that the Crown would lease 16 hectares of adjacent Crown land to Agur Lake Camp Society plus getting the use of 16 hectares more.
The Penticton Indian Band was included in the consultation process as access to the area is across their property. They gave whole-hearted approval to the Agur Lake Camp proposal.
September 2008, Coast Architectural Group were awarded the contract to design Agur Lake Camp. "Tyler Tingle, a paraplegic, an advocate for special-needs people and our design technologist, has first hand knowledge of accessibility issues" said Kevin Ryan, the lead architect. The firm has a well established record of successful projects with an environmental and a social focus.
September 2008, John Glaspie received the Minister's Award for exceptional services to Agur Lake Camp Society. Glaspie played a crucial role in gaining the co-operation of several provincial government ministries necessary for the camp society to lease the Crown land.
October 2008, the first site visit of the greater community including people with special needs. Fifty people from the Okanagan Valley explored the trails and had refreshments. The Kelowna-based Community Recreational Initiatives Society had their trail riders give rides to mobility-impaired people. A partnership has been formed with CRIS because their contribution to events at the lake made it possible for people with special needs to explore the camp, before the trails are built.
August 2009, the first building was erected on site, the barrier-free outhouse, better known as "the biffy". In celebration, Bonnar Dowler and Amanda Lewis cut the ribbon at an official open-house.
Cabin 1 and 2, an MOU was signed between ALCS and UBC, Penticton. The cabins were built to the framing stage, and they were then transported to the camp for completion by volunteers.
2010, money was donated by Shaw Cable. A communal firepit was then built by Ted Howell, a local blacksmith in 2013. Mr. Howell has also helped our camp with many other projects over the years.
August 2010, two water producing wells were dug and capped, ready for connection when buildings are erected.
September 2010, ALCS commissioned an official environmental study to pave the way for developing the property with minimal damage to existing ecosystems. This study was completed by Golder Associates in Kelowna, BC.
May 2013, Agur Lake Camp opened to its first camping season.
2014, a large covered pavilion with accessible picnic tables was completed.
Summer 2015, grand opening of Cabin 3. An MOU was signed between ALCS and UBC, Penticton. The cabin was built to the framing stage, and it was then transported to the camp for completion by volunteers, many of them from Adventure Club and friends from Penticton.
June 2016, Peters Bros and a group of local contractors paved the first kilometer of trails. 8500' of trails were paved.
Thanks to the generosity of Peters Bros, Lund Contracting, Grizzly Contracting, VBS Contracting and Mike Johnson Excavating, 80% of the trails are now paved!