A Chilliwack youth hockey team is grateful to the folks at Hope’s Camp Squeah, who housed and fed them for three days when conditions prevented them from getting back to Chilliwack.
Fresh off a gold-medal win at a tournament in Kelowna, the Chilliwack Minor Hockey Association U15 A2 crew was exhausted and excited as they hit the road for a four hour trip home. But even before leaving, parents and coaches heard rumblings of flooding, mudslides and road closures.
Heading out after dark, with rain pouring down, the convoy of cars experienced tense moments between Kelowna and Hope. Parent Lubelle Tomakin Bakker said she was praying just about the entire way as her husband navigated pitch-black roads.
“The worst part was 40 minutes before Hope. There was deep water and debris on the road and we didn’t notice until we drove through it,” she said. “When my husband drove through it, the water splashed up and covered the entire car. There was another spot where there was at least one huge pothole, and after that we saw a lot of cars pulled over to the side, probably with flat tires.”
As treacherous as the journey to Hope was, they truly realized how dire the situation was when they arrived.
People were driving around aimlessly, looking for shelter, food, power or directions. All the lights in the town were off and nothing was open.
It was best-described as eerie.
Around 10:30 p.m., the team met in the parking lot of the Hope & Area Rec Centre to plan their next move.
One of the parents, Cheryl Giesbrecht, knew the executive director at Camp Squeah, and with fingers crossed she reached out to Rob Tiessen. Rob and his wife, Kim, didn’t hesitate to help. They hurried over the rink and led the convoy on a slow drive to the camp. Though there was no power there either, and it was midnight when the group of 31 players, coaches, parents and siblings rolled in, camp staff prepped rooms for each of the families, offering shelter, warmth and hope.
After working hard the next morning to get a generator up and running, the camp staff jumped into action cooking up warm meals for their unexpected visitors.
There they stayed until late Wednesday (Nov. 17), when the group was finally able to head home.
While there’s no place like home and that’s where they wanted to be, the families were in awe of the treatment they received over three days at Camp Squeah.
“Not only have they been graciously provided with shelter, heat and amazing cooked meals, the families have had access to all that the camp has to offer,” Giesbrecht said. “The boys on the team have spent the last few days playing foosball and ping pong, basketball and mini-hockey, and building memories that will never be forgotten.
“Camp Squeah has been a ray of hope in this appropriately named town. They have lived out their faith in a tangible way to both CMHA families, and the many other stranded individuals that have walked through their doors.”
Camp Squeah wasn’t the only place in Hope to take in wayward hockey teams.
Justin Brown housed members of his nephew’s U18 hockey team and Bob and Carol Cameron had at least 16 members of their grandson’s hockey team in their house.