Couple compelled to help after devastating windstorm

Pines Bible Camp near Grand Forks holds a special place in the hearts of Blake and Raelene Chursinoff of Abbotsford

Blake and Raelene Chursinoff with their five-month-old baby Caleb.

Blake and Raelene Chursinoff with their five-month-old baby Caleb.

Blake Chursinoff of Abbotsford has dedicated much of his life to Pines Bible Camp and Retreat Centre near Grand Forks.

He first started attending camp there at age seven, and met his wife, Raelene, at the site 10 years ago when they were both 15.

The couple lived at the camp for three years while Blake served as program director until February 2011.

He was devastated to hear of the freak windstorm that not only damaged many of the buildings on the property on Friday, but took the life of a boy who was in a cabin that was struck by a tree.

The boy suffered serious injuries and was rushed to hospital, but he did not survive.

“It’s pretty devastating … What do you say? It just kind of stuns you. It’s a shock,” Blake said Monday morning.

He and Raelene were discussing the tragedy on Saturday morning, and both felt compelled to do something to help. The camp, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, is now closed for the year, but they want to help with its rebirth.

“I have a heart for the place. It’s like my second home … It’s just so special to so many people,” Blake said.

The couple decided to host a simple fundraising barbecue on Tuesday night (July 24) to help with rebuilding costs. They planned to invite a few people, but once Raelene posted the event on Facebook, the attention skyrocketed.

“We started thinking we would make 20 hot dogs. Now, we’re thinking maybe 1,000,” Blake said.

The barbecue begins at 6 p.m. at Mountain Park Community Church, 36232 Lower Sumas Mtn. Rd. in Abbotsford.

Blake said this will be the first of many fundraisers he and Raelene hope to hold, with a goal to collect $100,000 for Pines Bible Camp.

For more information about the barbecue, visit “Pines Restoration Fundraiser” on Facebook. To make a donation or for more information, visit pinesbiblecamp.com or email pinesrestorationproject@gmail.com.