Focus on camping

Music Camp keeps the tunes playing

Brandon Leis makes music at an outdoor camp service with his daughter Madeline. (Photo courtesy of Brandon Leis)

Ontario Mennonite Music Campers fine-tune a musical number from Jesus Christ Superstar during dress rehearsal. (Ontario Mennonite Music Camp photo)

Marie Penner from Toronto United Mennonite Church had a dream of a camp that would develop the musical talents of young Mennonites in Ontario.

Faith leads to composting

Anna Kuepfer (aka Teka) is pictured in her role as Hidden Acres' environmental services coordinator. (Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp photo)

A camper at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp 'takes aim at summer.' (Photo: Anna Kuepfer, Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp)

Donning my biology lab coat and goggles, I push through the bustling crowd of eager campers who are anxiously waiting to sing for their lunchtime mail delivery, and I raise my hand in the air. “Ready?” I ask. “One, two, three!” And the crowd of 80 bursts into an enthusiastic, barely organized uproar.

No place I’d rather be

Janet Peters, right, the associate program director for MC Manitoba's Camps with Meaning, is pictured with an adult camper. (Camps with Meaning photo)

A young girl pretends she is an expert equestrian. Slightly older, she learns the difference between a J-stroke and a C-stroke. Later, as a counsellor, she races through pouring rain near midnight to the lodge bathroom. Another night, she holds a tiny hand as someone struggles to fall asleep in a strange place.

Jump out of your comfort zone at Peace Camp

Johnny Wideman of Theatre of the Beat shares his peacebuilding wisdom with campers at Conrad Grebel University College's Peace Camp. Peace Camp is a day camp and peace educational program for youth aged 11 to 14 in Waterloo Region. Campers learn that peace is possible as they share stories and learn from people in the community and meet people from various cultural backgrounds, faiths, and orientations. (Peace Camp photo)

Have you ever been in a place, space or community where you have been encouraged to try something new? Have you been challenged to take risks and leap out of your comfort zone? Have you tasted the confidence that comes with mastering new skills?

A front-row seat

A highlight of each summer at the Shekinah Retreat Centre near Waldheim, Sask., is the coffee house during our senior-teen camp for ages 15 to 18. Campers come out of their shell and display talents that we didn’t know they had. It is a special time of vulnerability.

‘I can’t wait for summer’

The sun is shining through the tall trees today at Camp Valaqua near Water Valley, Alta., and the a hint of spring is in the air. This time of year brings hiring, planning and anticipation into our little corner of the camp world. Sometimes it is tough to keep track of why we work at this all year long and so I tell myself stories to remember. Here is one of my favourites:

The beauty in difference

I’m an archetype. My family immigrated to Canada when I was 6, and while I went to school, my parents worked tirelessly to support me. They uprooted their lives in hope of a better tomorrow for their child. My story is that of millions of immigrant children in Canada and around the world. At 10, unfortunate circumstances led to my placement in the foster-care system for six months.

‘So supported’

The summer of 2016 was one the most memorable summers of my life.

When the opportunity to work as a camp counsellor first came up, I was admittedly a little apprehensive. Having never counselled before, I was unsure of what to expect. What I experienced, however, was nothing short of spectacular.

Fertile environment for God’s good news

Counsellor Eizabeth Hoock gives a camper a piggy-back ride at Camp Squeah. (Camp Squeah photo)

Counsellor Daniel Driedger escorts a young camper around Camp Squeah. (Camp Squeah photo)

At Camp Squeah, we care a great deal about our young adult staff. We believe that a community of staff that cares for one another and treats each other as Christ-like as possible creates a fertile environment for campers to be affected by God’s great love and good news.

Peace is possible

Grace Eagle, left, Meghan Murray and Mikaela Tang learn to make crafts out of recycled materials at Conrad Grebel University College’s Peace Camp. (Photo by Ryan Dunham)

I love camp. I love the silliness, the excitement and the community. Most importantly, I love the learning opportunities and teachable moments that camp can offer. Camp provides an atmo-sphere for growth: budding friendships, self-discovery and confidence-building experiences that young people carry with them throughout their lives.

Looking back and looking up

Some female counsellors at Shekinah Retreat Centre’s 2014 summer camp put ‘pressure’ on the others. (Shekinah Retreat Centre photo)

This coming summer is a milestone in my camp career, being 10 years since I started spending my summers in leadership at Shekinah Retreat Centre’s summer camp. There are a lot of memories here, and a lot of these revolve around a circle of loving women who have guided and supported me over the past 10 years.

‘Raise the peace’

‘Raise the peace’ camp facilitator Lishai Peel came from Toronto and had a way of helping the youth take off their ‘cool masks’ and open up with one another. (MCC Saskatchewan photo)

As summer staff, part of our job was planning and implementing a peace camp titled “Raise the peace” in the Meadowgreen area of Saskatoon last August. This area is home to many newcomer families from about 20 different nations.

The sound of the soul shifting

Archery practice is popular with Camps with Meaning campers in Manitoba. (Camps with Meaning photo)

Roasting bannock around a campfire is a time-honoured tradition at summer camp, including Camp Assiniboia. (Camps with Meaning photo)

To feed our mind we go to school, to fix our body we go to the doctor, to feel our hearts we go home, and for our soul to flourish—that is when we go to camp!

Transformed in the wilderness

By spending nearly all day, every day outdoors, campers unconsciously relinquish their fears and open themselves to the wonder of God. (Photo by Rebecca Seiling)

This year marks 60 years since Fraser Lake Camp began in a farmer’s field northeast of Bancroft, Ont. Since then, the camp has evolved and now covers 105 hectares of forest, field and lakefront.

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