Family camp becomes family’s summer highlight

February 29, 2012 | Focus On | Number 5
By Angelika Dawson | Camp Squeah
Hope, B.C.
The Wiens family of Abbotsford enjoyed a unique family vacation at Camp Squeah last summer and plan to attend again this year.

A week of Family Camp at Camp Squeah turned out to be a summer highlight for the Wiens family of Abbotsford, B.C. Maria Wiens, her husband Gerhard and children Jacob and Elizabeth spent a week of their summer playing together, trying new activities, enjoying both family time and couple time, and being nurtured body and soul.

Both Maria and Gerhard, who attend Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Abbotsford, have served as summer staff at Squeah, a children’s summer camp and outdoor education facility operated as a ministry of Mennonite Church British Columbia, and as a family they have taken part in their church weekend retreats there.

Their children haven’t gone to summer camp on their own yet, as they still feel a little unsure about being away from their parents for an extended period of time. Maria says Family Camp gave them an opportunity to introduce their children to the summer camp experience as well as a quality family vacation.

Each family member had a different highlight. Jacob loved canoeing and blowing up rotten veggies with the camp’s potato gun. Elizabeth loved the climbing wall and swimming. Gerhard loved the opportunity to try a little falconry and the times when staff took care of their children so that he and Maria could go on a hike together.

“The highlight for me was watching the camp staff relate to my children,” Maria says. “What a privilege to have my children surrounded by Christian young people who are at camp because they enjoy children and nature. My kids can sometimes be so active and creative that they annoy others. Yet at camp they felt accepted and appreciated for who they are. My children got a real glimpse of what they can aspire to in the future. “

A typical day was fun, fun, fun, with lots of opportunity to play, take part in different activities around camp and worship together at chapel. And while Maria was fully expecting her children to be cared for, both she and Gerhard were surprised at how well they themselves were cared for.

“We were mainly doing this for our children and to have the camp staff surround us as parents to share the load for a week was incredible. It really did feel like the body of Christ was supporting us in our role as parents,” she says. “Often, churches are too busy using parents as volunteers to support and energize them in their role as spiritual mentors in the family. We were able to spend time as a family, as a couple, and alone. Gerhard and I felt refreshed, rejuvenated and appreciated for the effort that we put into parenting in a godly way.”

Maria also truly appreciated the kitchen staff and the way they accommodated their family’s dietary challenges. All in all, it was such a good experience that the Wiens family has decided to attend Family Camp again this year. Maria hopes other families will join them. “It is a wonderful way to spend a week as a family,” she says. “Family Camp gives you the chance to be together having fun, enjoying nature and learning about God.”

For more information about Family Camp and other camping opportunities, visit

The Wiens family of Abbotsford enjoyed a unique family vacation at Camp Squeah last summer and plan to attend again this year.

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