As we reach the 50th anniversary of Hidden Acres, it is abundantly clear that we have reason to celebrate!
A camp still surviving would be reason enough, but a still-thriving, growing facility and program is more than the brave founders 50 years ago could have dared to hope for. God’s generosity is tangible in the many buildings, climbing wall, pond and towering trees that dot the nine hectares of what was once farmland located amidst pig farms in Perth County.
We can celebrate the thousands of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make our camp possible; the hundreds of young adults who have chosen to serve as summer staff, instead of finding higher-paying summer positions; and the thousands of people who have been impacted by God in this place.
We will celebrate with a history book, an anniversary DVD, a celebration weekend in July and a benefit concert in October.
Beyond just the anniversary of Hidden Acres, there is greater reason to celebrate. As we finish a five-year span in which three Mennonite camps in Ontario alone have crossed the 50th-anniversary mark, we can celebrate the fact that summer camping is still recognized by parents and congregations as a valuable ministry.
In the age where you can play sports with the help of a gaming system, communicate with friends over the Internet and experience the wonders of nature on Blu-ray, there is still something unique about a hands-on camp experience. The friendships formed, skills gained and memories made cannot be replicated in any other setting.
After all, the ability to build a fire, whisper late night stories to new friends or eat pudding without using your hands are not gained by watching a YouTube video. As the stresses and distractions of the “real world” fall away, it can also be easier to experience God in the notes of a song, in the “magic” of a forest lit with fireflies, in the crackle of a campfire or in the blaze of stars in the expansive void above.
The excited memories of campers on their way home from a week away are more than enough reason for us to celebrate. So, amidst this year of celebration, we will also take a moment to recognize the powerful ministry that Mennonite camping has been for generations, and pray that it will continue to be for many years to come.
On a hot summer day last summer, Lisa Cressman, left, Christina Wilkinson and Camille Martin, staff members at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp in southwestern Ontario, cool off by being the target of water-filled sponges.
Canoeing on the pond is a popular activity at Hidden Acres. Out for a paddle last summer are Julia Schumm, Hannah Stanley and Joselyn Polanic.