While the site of the Pines Bible Camp is still strewn with tree branches and debris following a severe storm Friday that claimed the life of a young boy, others are hoping to help by spearheading the restoration effort.
"The camp is in such disarray right now so everything is chaotic - they're just trying to get back on their feet," said Blake Chursinoff.
The Abbotsford resident and longtime Pines Bible Camp supporter hopes off-site fundraisers will allow camp staff to devote their time to helping families and getting organized while also getting a jump start on raising money for repairs.
A barbecue will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Mountain Park Community Church at 36232 Lower Sumas Mountain Road in Abbotsford and marks the first of what Chursinoff hopes will be many more fundraisers.
"The whole point is to raise money for Pines Bible Camp as they rebuild. It started out really small and we just invited some friends and now everyone's excited," he said.
Chursinoff began attending Pines Bible Camp when he was five.
Now 25, he's father to a five-month-old baby boy that he hopes will one day get to experience the joy of summer camp at Pines.
"I just went every summer and being a camper turned into being staff, maintenance, cabin leader, assistant director and then program director," he said, noting he met his wife Raelene at the camp when they were teens.
The couple, who collectively has been involved with Pines for two decades, also lived on-site for three years while working as program directors.
"That's my home away from home," Chursinoff said, adding the camp has changed the lives of thousands of campers over the years.
"Not just from a religious stand point, but also a practical stand point," he said, noting the camp provides leadership training for youth and also offers subsidized camp fees for deserving youth from struggling families.
The camp, which hosts youth and family camps during the summer and is often rented out for group retreats during the school year, had in recent years completed renovations and construction on a number of buildings, including a $1.2-million dining hall. Friday's storm damaged the hall, washrooms and destroyed half the camp's residential units.
"People put blood, sweat and tears into it," Chursinoff said of the effort that built the camp's newer facilities. "To hear that a place with so much joy and love had been destroyed? It was definitely an 'oh my goodness' factor."
More information on Tuesday's barbecue can be found on the Pines Restoration Fundraiser page on Facebook. To volunteer or to donate, email email@example.com.