The Zajac Ranch for Children

September 2nd 2008
The Zajac Ranch for Children

The Zajac Ranch for Children is a summer camp set on the shores of Stave Lake in Mission, BC. The ranch serves children with serious and chronic illnesses and disabilities. The Zajac Ranch seeks to normalize and enhance the lives of the children that attend camp by offering innovative and unique programs in a caring and supportive environment.

The Zajac Ranch is celebrating the success of its 5th summer in operation, and every year the camp continues to develop new and exciting attractions and facilities.

Three spacious dormitories allow for a comfortable environment all year-round for up to 120 guests.

The dining hall or "Chuckwagon" has a state of the art kitchen and can serve over 100 people per sitting. Our meals are prepared in accordance with the Canada Food Guide Standards.

The recreation centre is in our gym and covers over 4,000 square feet and contains a basketball court, and a foosball table. Large retractable doors open to the outside, making it easy to enjoy the fresh air while playing inside.

Medical Care

At the Zajac Ranch we seek to provide excellent medical care. We have a first-rate medical team to look after your child's medications and keep a close eye on them while they are with us.

We also have a collaborative relationship with nurses and doctors from throughout the province, many of whom work at BC Children's Hospital, ensuring that we meet the medical requirements for our campers. Our on-site Medical Centre provides 24 hour care to campers.

We also have a dedicated team of carefully selected volunteers who will look after your child's daily needs and ensure that they enjoy their time with us.

Shell Busey's HouseSmart and the Zajac Foundation

Shell Busey has been helping Canadians with their home concerns for over 25 years on both radio and television; but Shell's mandate of helping people extends far beyond the walls and foundation of the home.

Shell's true passion lies within educating and supporting the youth. You can often hear him on the radio saying "The Children are our future!", a statement he has put into practice over the years through his work in raising funds for children's charities and non profit organizations, such as the Zajac Ranch for Children.

Shell Busey became involved with the Zajac Ranch in 2007, and has spent time hosting several fundraising efforts in support of the Ranch, and involved members of the HouseSmart Referral Network, who in turn have supported the ranch through building projects and development of the facilities. In November of 2007, Mel Zajac invited Shell Busey to sit on the Zajac Foundation's Board of Directors, a position he continues to find very inspiring.

We'd like to share with you a letter received recently, from a parent whose child attended camp for the very first time this summer:

Dear Staff, Volunteers and all who help make the Zajac Camp happen!

On behalf of my seven year old, non-verbal daughter, my husband and I would like to express our sincere and heartfelt thanks to all who made this camp such a fantastic and positive experience for our daughter Abbey.

This was Abbey's first experience leaving her family. To say that we were extremely nervous and concerned was an understatement. Abbey has very complex needs - she has a unique chromosomal translocation that finds her limited in her verbal and motor skills. Add to that a seizure disorder, anaphylaxis reactions and a new set of molars arriving daily, her care is detailed and specific. As parents, we have not felt comfortable leaving Abbey alone for any extended period of time for fear of wearing out our caregivers. Nevertheless, when we heard about the Zajac Camp and the medical care that you offer, in addition to the camp's excellent reputation, we knew we had to give our daughter the experience of being like other children who attend summer camp.

We were fortunate to speak to Donna Bilous ahead of time and she willingly supported our request to send Abbey's caregiver, Andrea, along with all her own food and medications. While Abbey is a clear communicator to those who know her, it would be a long learning curve for new people to understand Abbey's style and needs. By having Andrea, along with Abbey's camp counsellor Dee, we could not have asked for a better team to care for our daughter!

The stories of Abbey's successes at camp are still being discussed with energy and enthusiasm. The fact that she could participate in kayaking and was hoisted high above on the ropes course is simply amazing! In addition, Abbey rode her first pony. As a result of this experience, we know now that she is ready to try therapeutic riding in our community. The fun concert day complete with wild dress-up was so enjoyed by Abbey who loves her music and being around similar others.

Most of all, we want to acknowledge the incredible staff at Zajac - they are the most positive, happy and understanding group you will ever meet! From the warm welcome of Andrew, the camp director, to the amazing Dee who worked so closely with Abbey and Andrea to ensure their every need was met. Dee is one of those young ladies whom you instantly feel at ease with and who truly has a heart of gold. The nursing staff was wonderful - even at 4am when a dose of Tylenol was needed! Lastly, the other children present also made the camp a happy and positive experience - a testament to the fact that they too loved their time with you!

In addition, we would like to acknowledge the support and warm welcome that you provided to our caregiver Andrea. Andrea detailed how supportive and caring the staff were, not only for Abbey, but they also ensured that she too was cared for. Andrea is so positive about the experience, she advised that she is working on recruiting you other nurses for next year's camp as she is also a LPN.

Abbey's grandparents had the opportunity to see Abbey off to camp and were extremely impressed with the staff and the facility. While this in itself is positive, what has changed is how they see their granddaughter. Previously, all they could see is what she couldn't do, being delayed in motor and communication skills and limited to a wheelchair. Knowing she was kayaking, riding horses and swinging from ropes, has truly opened their eyes, and the eyes of many others. This revelation is simply incredible. As you are aware, so often we focus on what can't be done when we simply need to make it happen.

The simple words of thank you are not enough to express what a wonderful and positive experience this has been for our whole family. We so look forward to next year in hope that Abbey can join you again.

Best regards,

Abbey's Parents- Cynthia and Scott

The Zajac Ranch would not be a reality without the help, and support from generous sponsors, donors, partners and volunteers. There are numerous ways you can help support the Zajac Ranch, find out more by clicking here.