History of Camp Health, Hope and Happiness (Camp He Ho Ha)
It all started as a vision of the Kiwanis Club of South Edmonton; which recognized the need for a summer camp for people with special needs. In 1959 the Kiwanis Club approached the Alberta Minister of Health about the need to establish a recreational facility for the disabled. The concept was supported by the Alberta provincial government and after securing the lease, the Kiwanis Club of South Edmonton developed a plan to attract other local charitable organizations serving people with disabilities to join the effort. Together, the Kiwanis Club of South Edmonton, the Associated Commercial Travelers (Edmonton) Club, the Diabetic Association and the Edmonton Cerebral Palsy Association formed the Alberta Council and raised the money needed to establish a summer camp facility on Lake Isle, which would come to be known as Camp Health, Hope & Happiness. With a lease agreement in place from the Department of Lands and Forests, a donation of skid shacks from Imperial Oil, and the construction of a Medical Centre donated by Mr. & Mrs. Muttart, Camp He Ho Ha officially opened in 1960.
In the ensuing years, the facility would grow to become Alberta’s premier recreational facility for people with disabilities. The 1980s saw a tremendous period of growth including the construction of an Arts and Crafts Centre, pool complex, hotel-style and dormitory-style rooms, and meeting rooms. The 1990s saw the addition of a mini-golf course, gazebo, three-sided 40’ climbing wall, and wheel-chair accessible high ropes and low ropes course. Most recently Camp He Ho Ha undertook the construction of a wheelchair-accessible washroom facility located adjacent to the climbing wall and ropes course, as well as a $243,000 capital re-roofing project and a $180,000 re-siding project.
Today Camp provides adapted recreational opportunities to over 740 children, youth, adults, and seniors every summer.
What Makes Camp He Ho Ha Unique?
We are Alberta’s first summer camp for people with disabilities and the only facility of our kind in Northern and Central Alberta that does not discriminate based on the type or degree of disability. As a result, we welcome individuals with multiple disabilities and those deemed medically fragile. Each year Camp welcomes over 700 people with disabilities to have an opportunity to attend one of our week-long summer camps. These individuals, who range in age from 6 to 101, come to us from every part of Alberta as well as the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Northern British Columbia, with over half of our campers coming from the greater Edmonton area.
Our fully modern, fully wheelchair accessible year-round facility is located on 107 acres 90 kilometres west of Edmonton on picturesque Lake Isle and includes:
- Heated, indoor swimming pool
- 18-hole mini-golf course
- Waterfront activities (power barges, canoes, paddleboats, fishing)
- Out-tripping (overnight tenting)
- 40’ climbing wall, ropes course, and zip line
- Arts and crafts program
- Performing arts program
- Facility Rental Program
Our facilities also include a fully equipped Medical Centre, hotel-style and dormitory-style rooms, commercial kitchen and dining hall with seating for 200.
Each year Camp He Ho Ha hires 35 post-secondary students who participate in intensive 8-day training and orientation before serving as summer staff from May through August. We maintain a 4:1 Camper – Counsellor ratio that ensures a safe and rewarding summer camp experience for all participants. We also hire two Nursing staff to provide care on a 24/7 basis when camps are in session, as well as a lifeguard for our pool and waterfront areas. Housekeeping, dietary, maintenance, grounds keeping, and administrative staff assist in ensuring that the facilities are properly maintained and managed.