Sylvan Lake summer camp celebrates 90 years

Camp Kuriakos celebrated its 90th anniversary online April 25, plans for in-person event this fall

Ninety years ago Nick Isaacson offered up 17 acres of his farmland with access to the lake to a couple Danish settlers looking to build a summer camp.

The story goes that Isaacson offered the land for the sum of one dollar. And so, Camp Kuriakos was born.

The camp recently celebrated it’s 90th years with a virtual auction and a digital get together.

Paul Kopjar said the online event was very successful, and is a testament to the place the camp holds in people’s lives.

“It’s not just about the activities at camp, but the community we have created here,” Kopjar said.

“It’s not the programs that set us a part, it’s the people.”

The online auction was held on April 25, and in the week leading up to what is referred to as Kuriakos Gathers Together, past guests and volunteers shared memories of their time there.

“It’s a bit of a weird year with everything that is going on, but this just shows that we are not just a place,” said Kopjar.

Many of the campers who begin as children at the Family Camp and then the summer camps, come back to volunteer as councillors.

In Kopjar’s case he even went so far as working for the camp on a more permanent bases.

He says he remembers swimming in the lake as a kid, but the most memorable moments were those that brought people closer together.

“It blows me away how people support us. Now I have the privilege of watching kids become young staff members and become leaders and adults.”

Kopjar says the plan is to continue so the camp sees at least another 90 years of use.

The staff will be looking to see what construction projects might be needed in the coming years and will be investing more into the staff members at the camp.

“Personally I would love to see upgrades to our mess hall and lodging, but that doesn’t seem to be on the schedule any time soon… But we have another 90 years ahead of us,” Kopjar said.

It is unclear if the camp will open to camper this summer amid the COVID-19 concerns.

For the time being, events are being moved to an online platform, like what was done with Kuriakos Gathers Together. Another event moved online is the annual Women’s Retreat.

Kopjar says it is a tricky year for everyone but they are still hopeful.

“We aren’t going away because of COVID-19, we are still here,” he said.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the camp plans to host a free weekend to celebrate the 90th anniversary.

The hope is COVID-19 restrictions will be eased by then.

“If we can’t celebrate 90 than we will just celebrate 91 next year.”

More information about Camp Kuriakos can be found online at kuriakos.ab.ca

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