Zajac Ranch welcomes hundreds of campers each year, but wants more

Camp for sick children is always happy to receive donations of all types

Zajac Ranch campers are encouraged to challenged themselves to the limits they choose.

Despite exponential growth in its 12 years of existence, Mission’s Zajac Ranch still has room for more kids, but it needs help fulfilling that goal.

In 2014, its first year, Zajac welcomed 50 campers with life-threatening and chronic illnesses. It now takes in approximately 500 children over the course of its one to two week sessions throughout the summer.

The camp’s president, Carmen Zajac, said it was her father’s dream to start a camp for children with all types of medical issues, a first of its kind in the region.

“As long as they can get an OK from their [doctor], then they’re good to go,” said Zajac. “We get children that are on feeding tubes, we get paraplegics, quadriplegics, non-verbal children and they all get to participate in the activities to the level that they can.”

To illustrate the kind of effect the camp experience can have on participants, Zajac tells the story of a boy with Tourette syndrome – a neurological disorder that causes someone to have involuntary movements or vocalizations – who first came to Zajac Ranch when he was 8 years old.

The boy felt ostracized because he was often kicked out of places for involuntarily shouting. He was welcomed at the camp and kept coming back year after year, said Zajac.

At 15, he became a leader in training for two summers and is now a counselor.

Zajac recalled a recent conversation with the boy, who told her: “This camp didn’t just change my life, it saved my life.”

“And that just gives shivers up my spine, when I head that,” said Zajac. “And that’s what we hope comes from camp.”

The camp has benefited from the support of many donors both corporate and private over the years.

In 2011, longtime sponsor Telus installed high-speed fibre-optic internet to the property, something Zajac said has helped the camp operate better and attract more campers.

The ranch previously had a very slow dial-up connection which made it hard for its staff and volunteers to stay in contact with campers’ doctors and parents.

Zajac said many parents find it reassuring to know they can be in direct contact with Zajac Ranch for updates on their child. She said many campers come from across the country and, for some, it’s their first time ever sleeping away from their parents.

Zajac said she is very grateful for the donations, sponsorships and technology the ranch has received from Telus over the years (a $770,000 value, according to the company).

Another revenue stream for the ranch comes from renting out its property to private and corporate functions in its off-season.

Zajac said the camp currently has a gross annual revenue of $600,000 from its various sources but that comes short of its $750,000 operating costs. Once that gap is closed, the camp will be able to achieve its goal of not charging any campers’ families to come.

The camp can also often use material possessions, especially building supplies, according to Zajac.

Those wishing to rent the property, donate, volunteer or contact Zajac Ranch can do so through its website.

Just Posted

Tsunami warning issued for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 8.0 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

UPDATE: Fuel truck hits train in Port Coquitlam, causing massive fire

CP Rail reporting no injuries, driver of truck is safe.

Mission RCMP recover 22 stolen vehicles and several firearms

Charges are still pending after police search two separate properties

Fraser Health asking taxpayers for millions more in health care capital funding

Health authority wants Fraser Valley taxpayers to triple annual contribution to $5.75 million

UPDATE: Brother of teen killed by stray bullet in Vancouver says the death left a void

Alfred Wong, 15, was gunned down while on his way home from dinner with his family

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Movie filmed in Castlegar B.C. opens Friday

Hollow in the Land starring Dianna Agron will be playing in select cinemas.

Semi rollover on Highway 3

Highway 3 is reduced to single-alternating lanes

Most Read