This article is from the April 2016 Issue of Forever Young

 2016 april fishing

Where does a nature-loving family take a holiday when canes and walkers slow down their elderly members?

By Keith Dixon

The Ewerts of Kelowna faced that situation after grandpa Albrecht developed mobility problems. They found an unexpected solution just an hour’s drive from their home.

Monica Ewert was enjoying a ride on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway (KVSR) with her son Jordan and her parents, Egon and Hilda Albrecht, when they heard about Agur Lake Camp (ALC). It happened to be the KVSR’s annual ride for ALC, where proceeds of that run were donated to the camp. ALC volunteers were on board the train to explain about the camp to riders. The Ewerts learned that the camp was just a 20-minute drive back into the mountains from the KVSR station. Because it offered wilderness camping for families with a member having a disability it was ideal for them. They headed out immediately to check it out.

The Ewerts drove at least fifteen kilometres over gravel roads used mainly by logging trucks before they arrived at the camp gate. That trip certainly justified the claim that it was a wilderness camp. The air was cooler as they climbed, and the forest grew dense with towering pines and the occasional aspen grove. Arriving at the camp on a single lane driveway they found themselves totally surrounded by nature. There was no sign of human habitation until they sighted the gazebo and the cabins. Beyond those buildings was a glimpse of blue water, Agur lake after which the camp gets its name.

The camp manager was on site. He welcomed the Ewerts and offered them a tour. They inspected cabins, explored trails around the lake and looked for wild life in the marshy hollow. They knew instantly that this was where they wanted to spend their vacation, so booked a cabin on the spot.

Arriving in late June they found they had been assigned a large well ramped cabin. It easily held all five of them. Because it was early in the season no other campers were there. The Ewerts pretty well had this chunk of wilderness all to themselves. Camp managers lived on site, playing the roles of both hosts and maintenance experts.

Monica was delighted to be able to prepare food for her family on site. The cabin had a spacious kitchen with all the basic equipment. She could cook indoors or on the portable barbeques beside the cabins. One evening they gathered around the free standing fireplace down by the gazebo where they roasted marshmallows, and told fish stories. Another night they sat at the kitchen table and played games.

Grandpa Egon had been a fishing enthusiast all his life, but diabetes now made his limbs numb and weak. It is not easy to get to a lake using a walker. Handling a fishing rod with numb hands is even more difficult. At Agur lake he was able to get right on the dock with his walker. A golf cart was available for transportation. With grandsons Jordan and Brayden helping, Egon forgot about his weak hands and took charge of a fishing rod. He complained about his line getting caught in the water lily pads. But he complained with a smile on his face. That smile was still there at the end of the weekend even though he had not caught a single fish. He said that the best part of the amazing weekend was just being out in nature.

The Ewerts discovered that a couple of other things qualify ALC as a wilderness camp. Cell phones don’t work. All those gadgets that require the use of the internet are useless. That applies to television also. There is no cable connection. An old fashioned TV antenna won’t bring in any signals. In fact there are no power lines into ALC. The cabins are all wired, but the power comes from a generator and solar panels. The camp is off the grid and in the sunshine.

It is amazing that two teenage boys did not rebel at the prospect of a holiday without television and the internet. Jordan and Brayden had no trouble adjusting to this situation. Helping Grandpa down to the dock and recovering his line when it got caught in the lily pads was more fun than texting. Though Monica is the family photographer, Jordan was so fascinated by the wild flowers scattered throughout the camp that he borrowed the camera and recorded all his discoveries. It was June when most of the wild flowers were in full bloom. He decided to donate his photo collection to the camp so other campers would be inspired to go searching for those same flowers.

The nearest store is a 40-minute drive from ALC. Campers who have forgotten to bring their marshmallows have a bit of a drive if they need to make an emergency purchase. The magic of being in nature far outweighed the temptations for fast food for the Ewerts. They never once drove to town. Even the fishing lures that Egon thought he needed were not worth driving to town to buy. The trip would waste precious camp-time. But the camp manager offered to pick up the lures for Egon when he made his daily trip to town.

Monica was surprised by the multitude of friendly hummingbirds. “There were gazillions of them everywhere” she raved. A feeder, which had to be refilled daily, hung by the porch and was constantly in use. She could sit there with a cold drink and enjoy their coming and going. The ducks in the lake were as numerous as the chipmunks on land. None were particularly shy with humans, and sometimes seemed to be putting on a show. The prize sighting of all was a moose who had wandered down to the lake to drink.

Who would think that we would still be camping? Grandma Hilda mused months after the adventure was over. For the family who had decided that as the seniors grew older they would have to give up camping, ALC broke through that barrier. They dared to step beyond their assumptions about ageing and a whole new world opened up before them.

Agur Lake Camp is in the mountains 20 kilometers west of Summerland. Families who have a member with a disability  and would like to explore accessible wilderness camping  are encouraged to check out the ALC website at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or phone the downtown office at  1-250-809-7130

Keith Dixon is a freelance writer living in Summerland. He is also a senior using crutches who has found Agur Lake Camp a wonderful wilderness retreat.