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Kinsmen rock the pool for Easter Seals campers

Corinne Eisenstein, left, can’t wait to take a dip in the revived Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan pool this summer after lifeguard Tatum Toporowski sparked an effort from the Duncan Kinsmen to get the pool re-opened. - Peter W. Rusland
Corinne Eisenstein, left, can’t wait to take a dip in the revived Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan pool this summer after lifeguard Tatum Toporowski sparked an effort from the Duncan Kinsmen to get the pool re-opened.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Pulling a 1/4-inch rock plugging a pool valve at Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan saved its owners and valley volunteers about $30,000 in repair bills.

Still, Island District Lions Club members, and their Duncan Kinsmen colleagues, dove into about $4,820 worth of tile renovations to the handicapped-accessible pool used by hundreds of young physically or mentally disabled campers.

They were unable to use the popular pool last year, thanks to that pesky pebble.

So Corinne Eisenstein, 22, can’t wait to take a dip this summer after proud members of both service clubs christened the camp’s revamped tank earlier this month.

“It’s awesome,” she said, poolside. “What’s not to like?”

Lifeguard Tatum Toporowski didn’t like seeing special campers unable to use the pool where the hidden stone stuck a flow-valve open, stopping the tank from filling.

So she, and boyfriend Shane Hudson, screened a video about the dry-pool dilemma, and fixes needed, to the Kinsmen Club of Duncan.

Early figures pointed to about $40,000 in repairs, Kinsman Mike Wiersma explained.

Enter fellow Kinsman Greg Smith, a septic and water pro, who traced the system, then removed the culprit rock.

A grateful Stephen Miller, of Easter Seals B.C. and the Yukon, noted a new valve was installed, and the tank’s tiles were scraped off.

“Basically, the pool renovations were donated by the Kinsmen of Duncan,” he said, applauding an anonymous donor of funds for tile materials.

Kinsman Mike Goulden cited Wiersma as the project’s golden boy who led about 10 guys doing sterling service.

“Mike was the key guy. He put in full days over four or five weekends — the amount of time he put in was just amazing.”

Meanwhile, Corinne’s mom, Kristen, explained how she was overwhelmed by the service clubs’ kindness so kids, youths and young adults can use the pool this summer — between arts, crafts, a crazy Kangaroo Court, and many other activities.

“It makes a big difference because their only other swimming option is the lake.”

But reaching the lake means uneven ground for many using wheelchairs and other aides — whereas the pool boasts a ramp for easy access.

“This (camp) is the only time these kids can connect with each other physically,” Kristen said. “This is their lifeline; they count the days until coming here again. It’s akin to Christmas for these guys.”

Easter Seal Camp Shawnigan will host a public open house barbecue on July 13, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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