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Weekend Warriors spread the love at Camp Alexo

Take 300 dedicated volunteers, add three days of hard work, and what do you get?

In the case of Camp Alexo, you get a new lease on life after three decades mentoring over 18,500 Central Alberta youth.

Thirteen Stantec Red Deer volunteers joined more than 250 other “Weekend Warriors” from June 5-8 to give the camp a complete top-to-bottom makeover. In just three days, the volunteers completed the construction of two activity shelters, an environmental wash house, two new pedestrian bridges, a multi-purpose games court, two new 20-person cabins, and an entry gate and sign. In addition, the camp’s existing buildings were freshened up with a new coat of paint and the trail system was upgraded.

Joel Sawatzky organized our efforts for the “Weekend Warriors for Kids” Program and said it was a fabulous experience. The labour, equipment, and a significant portion of the materials used in the project were donated by local businesses. “It was awesome,” he said. “There were a ton of people there. They were very well organized. They had great meals, great hospitality, and great entertainment.”

Having attended camp throughout his youth, Joel knows the effect improvements can make in the lives of campers. “I remember when we got mountain bikes for our camp, it was a big thing. So to have these new buildings, new infrastructure and new facilities to use I think it’s going to make a big impact,” he said. “(The campers are) going to tell their friends to come, so we can only expect attendance to increase.”

Located 70 kilometers west of Rocky Mountain House in the picturesque foothills of the Canadian Rockies, Camp Alexo is owned by the Red Deer Youth and Volunteer Centre and offers programming for youth aged seven to 17 with an emphasis on developing life skills.

For Camp Director Heather Banfield, the entire experience was “mind-blowing.” “In my 10 years here, I have never seen anything like this,” she said in between shuttling volunteers to and from the camp on June 7. “Everyone’s here for the right reasons. They all understand that this is a cool place for kids to be and that it needs some love. There’s been nothing but love – everyone’s been caring and understanding and patient and it just means so much we were chosen for this.”

The project, which included over $1 million in improvements, was completed two weeks before the first campers were set to arrive for the summer. Banfield said she was confident returning campers would be shocked by the changes.

“Camp is a place where kids get to disconnect from whatever world they’re in, and they get to come and reinvent themselves and in turn take that person home and add that person to society,” she explained. “This is just going to enhance everything we can do with the 60 campers that come out here each week. I can’t put into words what it’s going to do.”

A new father, Joel was proud knowing the Stantec team made a huge difference in such a short time, adding he was confident the changes will impact campers for years to come. “It’s amazing what a community can do when they come together for a good cause,” he said. “I’m glad we could help.”

We would like to extend a big thank-you to all of our volunteers: Brian Green, Ray Mullen, Hoa Nguyen, Nicole Obst and family, Amanda Sigurdson, Lauren Chorney, Chris Kerr and family, Shannon and Jason Van Parys, and Joel Sawatzky and his family.

It is truly amazing how a group of caring community people can come together for three days and create a place where children and youth can come together to discover and form friendships and memories to last a lifetime

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