Blazing a New Trail
Camp Prime Time in Yakima, Wash.
Inspired by a weekend of camping, fishing and boating with his brother David, special-needs nephew and the seeing-impaired son of a friend at Washington State's Bumping Lake, Ralph Berthon spent the next three years with David and numerous other volunteers planning the launch of a supportive, caring community dedicated to the support of ailing children and their families.
With the aid of scores of volunteers, Camp Prime Time opened in 1986 as a nurturing recreational sanctuary for disabled and seriously ill children along the banks of Clear Lake in the beautiful Wenatchee National Forest in Washington State. For the past 33 years, Camp Prime Time has provided a regular respite to more than 1,000 campers a year looking for a cheerful, soothing getaway from life's challenges and the chance to enjoy a long, summer weekend in the great outdoors.
"Many of our campers are disabled under the age of 10," explained Cec Anson, Camp Prime Time's executive director. "Managing their needs is often very demanding and extremely stressful for everyone involved, including their families. Adding to the problem is the lack of available leisure activities for anyone with limited abilities. Public facilities are often inaccessible or unsafe for this segment of the population.
"Camp Prime Time is dedicated to providing a positive intervention. Our mission is to present the families dealing with illness, disabilities and disease with the opportunity to reacquaint with one another, free of the stress and routine often found in homes, hospitals and other medical environments. This includes enjoying each other's company in an invigorating environment, surrounded by nature," Anson added.
Serving families located throughout the Pacific Northwest and states as far away as New Jersey, Camp Prime Time's accommodations consist of a main lodge, 14 cabins (two of which are duplex cabins housing two families), two bathroom/bath house facilities, a playroom and amenities like a wheelchair-accessible treehouse and pontoon boat, fishing supplies and crafts.
"There is no charge to eligible families for the Camp Prime Time experience," said Anson. "Everything we provide is based on the grassroots participation of businesses and sponsors. Over the years, our volunteers have helped with everything from the building of boardwalks and cabins to lodge renovations and the installation of new water filtration and septic systems. We are dependent on the donations and sponsorship of the surrounding community."
Unfortunately for the camp, this means even the seemingly simple completion of projects can be tedious without the proper support. "Everything we accomplish is based on the support of volunteers," explained Ralph Berthon. "Our volunteers rack up about 10,000 hours a year in donated time. Plus, all the proceeds from our events go directly back to the camp and the helping of these children and their families."
For Berthon, this support has come in many forms throughout the years. Everything from time to money to supplies—all of which are highly valued by everyone involved in Camp Prime Time's daily operations.
Last summer, these efforts also focused on the ground-up restoration of a 1,200-pound, 200-square-foot tilt-bed trailer used extensively to haul heavy machinery, equipment, lumber and even fallen trees around the camp. After the trailer had fallen into total disarray, Berthon supervised the job, which extended from the replacement of the trailer's tires, axle and fenders to the reconstruction of the flatbed itself.
"I reached out to Nova USA Wood Products hoping to make a deal for lumber and various other supplies," Berthon said. "I was stunned when they offered to help free of charge. Subsequently, I was able to leverage this support into the donation of everything else we needed to rebuild the trailer."
A leading national supplier of superior, high-quality hardwood products and accessories, Nova USA proudly donated 200 Keruing, Genuine Apitong 2x8 Full Sawn Rough Heavy Duty Trailer Deck Boards, 250 three-inch deck screws and Apitong Oil through its TrailerDecking.com division after hearing of Camp Prime Time's mission and quest to repair the aging, debilitated trailer. Established in 2009, TrailerDecking.com offers a complete line of Apitong flatbed trailer flooring in both rough and shiplap, laminated hardwood truck flooring for van bodies, hardwood trailer components such as scuff liner and tie-down rails, and supplies like Apitong Oil. A high-quality wood finish developed with a proprietary blend of Tung oil, UV blockers, fungicide and trans-oxide pigments, Apitong Oil was specifically developed to enhance the durability and beauty of nearly all exterior wood products used in heavy-duty automotive and industrial applications.
"It took the aid of three volunteers to totally reconstruct the trailer over a three-month period," Berthon said. "This ranged from all the sheet metal work to the rebuild of the trailer's flatbed with the materials generously donated by Nova USA. The truth is, I never worked with wood like this before. It was just so heavy and durable and exactly what we needed to ensure years of heavy-duty hauling and lifting. The Apitong Oil also covered beautifully and was so easy to apply using only a roller. The color's amazing. Quite frankly, anyone who saw the trailer before we began can't believe the transformation. It looks just that good."
"I was immediately struck by Ralph and the camp's mission to help these ailing children and their families," says Steve Getsiv, president and CEO of Nova USA Wood Products Inc. "It's an amazing cause and one we were happy to further even in small way. They have an amazing mission that deserves the support."
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