2018, A Year in Review

As 2018 winds down and we prepare to ring in 2019, we thought we’d take a moment and reflect on the year. 2018 has been a very busy, difficult, and rewarding year that has brought both challenges and positive momentum.

8 old books of various colours in a stack

In January, we announced that we had become a licensed publisher at the end of 2017. Building on this work, we have been busy developing an artificial intelligence tool, named Bailey, to aid the publishing and library industries in making books accessible to everyone. Revenue generated by licensing Bailey will go into funding our programs here at Camp Bowen. Work on Bailey will continue into 2019 and beyond as the digital publishing landscape continues to evolve and we are excited to see her learn and progress.

Jessica, Alex, Jocelyn, and Aedan sit behind a table with promotional materials on it.
Staff sit behind the Camp Bowen table at the 2018 national AEBC conference. From left to right: Jessica Gladysz, Alex Jurgensen, Jocelyn Gladysz, and Aedan Staddon.

In April, Alex, Jessica, Jocelyn, and Aedan staffed a table at the national Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) conference. Jessica spoke about Bailey at the conference, during a session put together by the National Network for Equitable Library Services (NNELS).

Also in April, the independent living skills training department took on a new student. He has been working with us ever since and we look forward to continuing to work with him into 2019.

Jessica, Jocelyn, Aedan, and Alex are sitting on a couch. Aedan is smiling and the rest are laughing, looking like they are all having fun.
Camp Bowen’s delegation to the 2018 national CFB convention on convention weekend. From left to right: Jessica Gladysz, Jocelyn Gladysz, Aedan Staddon, and Alex Jurgensen.

In May, Alex, Jessica, Jocelyn, and Aedan attended the national Canadian Federation of the Blind (CFB) convention on behalf of Camp Bowen. They spoke at the convention about the importance of the covenant that governs the Bowen Island Lodge and about how it must be defended. They also spoke about the various programs and initiatives of the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired.

This staff photo features the Board of Directors of the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired standing, posing for the camera wearing their orange staff shirts with the Camp Bowen logo emblazoned on the left side of the chest in blue.
Taken in 2018 at the Camp Bowen pub night fundraiser at Moose's Down Under in Vancouver, this staff photo features the Board of Directors of the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired. From left to right: Alex Jurgensen, Jessica Gladysz, Jocelyn Gladysz, Peg Mercer, Sara Batt, and Aedan Staddon.

In July, the whole Board of Directors, including Peg, Alex, Sara, Jessica, Jocelyn, and Aedan, organized and attended a pub night fundraiser in support of Camp Bowen at Moose’s Down Under pub in Vancouver. More than 30 guests came together for a fun night of madlibs, door prizes, a 50/50 draw, and great food.

Jordan, Jessica, Jocelyn, Aedan, and Alex kneeling in front of the Camp Bowen banner with the Showdown table in the background.
Camp Bowen volunteers at Bowfest 2018. From left to right: Jordan Parke, Jessica Gladysz, Jocelyn Gladysz, Aedan Staddon, and Alex Jurgensen. Photo credit: Lisa.

At the end of August, Alex, Jessica, Aedan, and Jocelyn, along with two additional volunteers, Jordan and Lisa, attended Bowfest, Bowen Island’s community fair. They sold Braille puzzle books designed for sighted people to decode, wrote up Braille bookmarks, and administered two 50/50 ticket draws. As usual, the organization’s tent also featured a Showdown table, provided to us by BC Blind Sports. Balloon animals were also created and given out to many a happy child.

All campers from the 2016 adult retreat on the patio of the Bowen Island Lodge with Deep Bay in the background.
All Campers from the 2016 adult retreat. Photo credit: Lorraine Ashdown.

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing dispute with the Bowen Island Lodge and its owners, who wish to have legal protections for people with disabilities removed from the property via a rezoning application, the 2018 camping season was postponed. The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired remains committed to defending the rights of people with disabilities and will continue its work to oppose this rezoning into 2019. We hope to return to normal summer camp operations as soon as possible and appreciate your patience. If you have any questions or concerns or would like to know how to help, please see here or call us at +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 102.

In October, Sara Batt, who has served in various capacities on our Board of Directors since 2014, stepped down and has accepted the post of Transportation Committee Co-Chair. She brings an enthusiasm for and a vast knowledge of travel to the position and we look forward to working with her in her new role.

A wrapped box of Purdy's hedgehogs.
Image copyright Purdy’s

At both Easter time and Christmas, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired conducted fundraisers selling Purdy’s chocolates. At Christmas time, we split the proceeds from our Purdy’s fundraiser with one of our partners, the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind Society.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank AEBC, BC Blind Sports, the Bowen Island Community Foundation, the Bowfest committee, CFB, C-Lovers Burquitlam, Moose’s Down Under, the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind Society, and our countless other supporters, both individuals and organizations. Without you, we could not do the work that we do.

We have several other announcements we can’t wait to share with you but those will unfortunately have to wait until early 2019. In the meantime, we hope all of you have a safe and enjoyable New Year.

The Camp Bowen Team