The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired is a BC based not-for-profit organization that took over the operation of the Camp Bowen summer camp project from CNIB in the fall of 2010. We work closely with community partners to ensure Camp Bowen continues for generations to come.
Camp Bowen is a summer camp for visually impaired and blind individuals and their families. It is located on Bowen Island, off the coast of British Columbia. Established in 1963, the camp is now operated by the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired, a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind.
The organization expanded upon its successful first retreat in 2011 and has continued operating camps on an annual basis. The organization’s goal is to offer camps targeting the five program areas of family, child, youth, young adult and adult. The organization strives to implement the same level of informative and recreational camps as were offered before the transition to the new leadership under the Camp Bowen society for the Visually Impaired.
The campers of camp Bowen have many stories to tell. Join the campers on the memories page to hear first hand the impact Camp Bowen has on the lives of the campers that have walked through its doors.
In 1963, a recreational camp was opened on Bowen Island, with the goal of providing a retreat for visually impaired and blind British Columbians. The property was owned and operated by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (Now CNIB).
Throughout the years, the camps underwent many revisions and grew tremendously. Programs were established for various age groups and included instruction in many diverse topics, such as independent living skills, technology, recreation, music and literacy.
In 2009, CNIB announced its plans to restrict its program offerings to a day camp. This move was met with much outrage from the community. After a community movement gained the support of several sponsors, CNIB relented and continued the more traditional format of the camps.
In 2010, CNIB began the process of selling the Bowen Lodge by the Sea property. It announced that the 2010 camping season would be the last CNIB run camping program on Bowen Island. They announced plans to reallocate funds into a new outdoors camping program.
In August of 2010, former campers of the original CNIB Camp Bowen project formed the Camp Bowen Working Group. The BC-based organization, now known as the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired (CBSVI), aims to fill the learning gap left by the closure of CNIB’s program. Together with the BC visually impaired community, CBSVI organized its first retreat on Bowen Island in 2011. The retreat was considered to be a success by the board of directors and the campers who were in attendance.
The following years saw an increase in the number of programs offered and a new season of growth for Camp Bowen.
Joining the Canadian Council of the Blind
In march of 2015, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired became a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind. Under the new partnership, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired gains access to the resources of the Canadian Council of the Blind, while remaining locally based.
The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired’s mission is to:
- Provide a safe, exciting and rewarding camp experience, conducive to friendship building.
- Give individuals who are blind and visually impaired opportunities to meet others who have had similar experiences to their own.
- Give individuals who are blind and visually impaired opportunities to expand their knowledge base.
- Give the visually impaired and blind community a voice in shaping the future of camps they are offered.
- Preserve the traditions of the former Camp Bowen project while creating new ones.
- Operate while respecting the needs and values of the community of Bowen Island and addressing concerns put forth by its residents.
- Sustain the historic presence of the blind and visually impaired community on Bowen Island by maintaining access to on island camp facilities to hold programs designed to meet the needs of blind and visually impaired persons.
- Provide independent living skills training through residential programs, at home support, and networking opportunities.
- Oversee the operation of projects designed to generate revenue for the organization.
A project as ambitious as Camp Bowen requires a dedicated and passionate team.
Last Revised: September 13, 2016