As a charity, the Y is determined to ensure children from various economic backgrounds and abilities have access to our programs. This includes subsidizing the costs of attendance at Camp Thunderbird to keep fees affordable for all camper families.

This is a stepping stone year in terms of both building back our capacity at Camp Thunderbird and striving to meet the increased post-pandemic demand for families seeking nature experiences and outdoor learning activities for their children.

2022 programs at Camp Thunderbird will finally offer overnight options again after two years, and the kids are incredibly excited, as are their parents, and our staff team here!

The pandemic has impacted our camp operations in many unique ways. We have lost some continuity in staff from those who graduate up through our programs, and many of our cabins, walkways and trails on our site require additional work this year. Transportation and food costs have also both increased at alarming rates and cannot realistically be offset by an average family’s ability to pay.

While it is a more hopeful time, we face significant financial challenges across every area of our operation.

Now, more than ever, we need your support .

A Camp Thunderbird Story

My son recently turned 13 and is now in grade seven. He has gone to the Y’s Camp Thunderbird for the last two summers and has significant learning disabilities. His dyslexia impacts everything he tries to do. From grades 4-6, he experienced severe bullying and was called stupid and dumb. He hated school.

During this time his father and I divorced. His dad was homeless, and I was back to work and trying to support a family after being a stay at home mom for 10 years. With all this happening, along with the death of his four year old cousin, my son became very sad. It was very difficult to watch. He missed his dad, I was working all the time, and I was grieving and tired too. As a single mom, I can’t tell you how grateful I am to the YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island.

Through the Y’s Strong Kids Campaign, we received Financial Assistance the first summer to make Camp Thunderbird possible. My son went with one of his classmates and spent a week at camp. When I picked him up, he had more joy then I have ever seen. His counsellors described him as a generous, kind person who was a leader on the hikes and kayaks. He loved camp! He also built a bond with his classmate and now had an ally at school. At Camp Thunderbird, he felt as though he counted and was valued.  His brother is also dyslexic and struggles at school, and I cannot wait to have him attend Camp Thunderbird and feel the same joy in such a safe place, because that is truly what Camp Thunderbird is. It is a place where ALL children can be kids, get dirty, laugh and feel loved. It is a place where children are challenged and supported, and where they come to realize they are capable and good.

The memories and impacts of camp last a lifetime

The Y’s Camp Thunderbird is a local institution on Vancouver Island, offering a structured outdoor experience in nature and developing young leaders since 1935.  We regularly hear from parents how Camp Thunderbird has transformed their children with opportunities to challenge themselves, build confidence, connect with others, appreciate the natural environment, and unplug from technology. 

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