Summer camp to aid wounded warriors on paths to healing

The camp's lodge is located on the edge of the boreal forest at Tobin Lake. (Blake Emmons/Submitted)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

A new summer camp on the shores of Tobin Lake will provide a space for frontline workers to bond and help heal each other from post traumatic stress.

Camp Independence will have equine and dog therapy, service dog training and outdoor activities like fishing—it’s the result of an alliance between Tobin Lake Trophy Adventures and Wounded Warriors Weekend Foundation Inc.

Tobin Lake is located about two hours northeast of Prince Albert.

“When they get to talk to each other, that’s part of the healing process because they find out that they’re not alone,” said founder and CEO of Wounded Warriors Weekend, Blake Emmons.

The week-long camp will have its first run in mid-July.

As a retired air force veteran, Emmons described the complexity of post traumatic stress referencing the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

“(It) happens six hours, six minutes, six days, six years later, but those images, one of the guys that I talked to, it would be a job description that you’d never even consider would have post traumatic stress—the tow truck driver, can you imagine that?” he asked.

Owner and operator of Tobin Lake Trophy Adventures, Gerald Purcell, has a personal connection to the topic.

Him and his wife Irene, who’s also an owner and operator, lost their nephew to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“He was an RCMP officer. He took his own life, so they kind of threw it out there and we got to be good friends with Blake and we (thought we) can do something for them,” he said.

The alliance formed through a group Purcell is involved in called Safari Club International. Every year, the club pays to take a wounded warrior hunting.

“Everybody’s got to give back to these people and it’s getting more stressful every day (for them),” said Purcell.

Wounded Warriors Weekend, a separate entity from Wounded Warriors Canada, dedicates time for frontline workers to be free of anxiety and stress, an awarding commitment for Emmons.

“The key to all of what we’ve done is the fact that we’re total volunteer. Nobody gets paid; however, the payment comes when a soldier or a police officer reaches out, gives you a hug, holds you arms length and says ‘You people saved my life.’”

A news release said they’ll make an announcement about the opening date within the next month.