WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON – After 60 years of providing faith education and fun activities for children and youth on the south shores of Pigeon Lake, Camp St. Basil is undergoing a major overhaul.
Currently a new kitchen-dining hall for 200 campers is being built at a cost of $1.5 million. It will be ready by Dec. 31.
“We are trying to rebuild the camp because the buildings are getting old and decrepit,” says Basilian Father Ireneus Prystajecky, the camp director.
“The camp is 60 years old this year. It started in 1950. The kitchen is around 55 years old.
“The dorm building is about 50 years old, maybe a little more. Those are the two main buildings that need replacement.”
The old dorm will be replaced within three to four years at a cost of around $1 million, said Prystajecky, who is also assistant pastor of St. Basil’s Parish.
The new 5,500 square foot kitchen-dining hall will feature a canteen and fireplace, a commercial kitchen, a walk-in cooler, cafeteria-style self-serve food stations and sectional food preparation units.
“This year we are using the old kitchen-dining hall for the last time and next year we’ll be using the new one already,” Prystajecky said.
“We have never run (the camp) in the winter. It’s mostly used between June and September. This is the first time that we are having a building that can be used in the winter.”
Camp St. Basil, located just south of Mulhurst Bay on the southeast shore of Pigeon Lake, is 26 acres of beachfront property. About half of that is developed and the rest is bush.
It was the brainchild of Basilian Father Sebastian Kurylo, who in 1950, proclaimed the need for “a camp where we can provide further education to our youth in our faith, culture, language and personal development.”
Thousands of children and youth have enjoyed the Basilian-owned facility since then. “(The purpose of the camp is) to evangelize the kids in a fun setting,” Prystajecky said.
“Usually in a two-week camp we teach them religion. This year the theme was Confession or sacrament of Reconciliation. Next year we are going to do liturgy.”
Entertainment at the camp includes all sorts of field and water sports, games, drama and arts and crafts.
Most campers are aged seven to 14 and come from Ukrainian Catholic parishes and Catholic schools that have Ukrainian bilingual programs.
ROMAN CATHOLIC KIDS
“They also bring their friends, so there is a lot of Roman Catholics kids,” the priest said. “There are a few kids that have no religion because they are usually friends of the ones that do.”
Camp St. Basil also runs an acolyte camp for Ukrainian Catholic altar boys. For part of the season, the camp is rented out to other groups such as Scouts, dance groups and reunions.
Prystajecky is planning to start a camp for 13 to 17 year olds next year.
Construction funds are coming from various sources, including the Basilian order, federal and provincial grants as well as the Friends of Camp St. Basil Society, the group that operates the camp.
Despite heavy fundraising by the group, there is still a shortfall of more than $200,000.
Donations can be sent to Friends of St. Basil Society, c/o St. Basil’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish, 7007-109 St., Edmonton T6H 3B9.