Focus on camping

Journey of a beloved camp treasure

The former Camp Moose Lake picnic shelter is placed in its new home at Camp Assiniboia. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg, Mennonite Church Manitoba)

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The former Camp Moose Lake picnic shelter at its new home at Camp Assiniboia. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

Moose Lake was one of three camps under the umbrella of Camps with Meaning (CwM), Mennonite Church Manitoba’s camping ministry. It opened in 1957 and closed in September 2017, in order to create a more sustainable model for the regional church’s camping ministry.

Stepping outside the comfort zone

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Campers learn to canoe on Lake Laverne at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp. (Photo by Chris Pot)

I had the pleasure of leading the Leaders in Training (LIT) and Advanced Camper Experience (ACE) programs at Hidden Acres last summer. Both programs offer youth a chance to further develop leadership skills, study the Bible, build community, spend time outdoors, and learn the ins and outs of serving at camp.

Witnessing God at Camp Assiniboia

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Nadya Langelotz is pictured at a ‘theme meal’ at Camp Assiniboia. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

As I prepare to enter my eighth summer as a camp staffer, I have an overwhelming abundance of memories to reflect on. From childhood weeks at Camp Moose Lake and the pubescent discoveries at Camp Koinonia, all the way to last summer, when I fell into awkwardly new territory to direct at Camp Assiniboia.

Fun is a camp byproduct

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Canoeing across a lake at camp for the first time is not easy. (Fraser Lake Camp photo)

The word “fun” is often used in association with camp but, from my perspective, fun is not the meat and potatoes of what happens at camp. Fun is the byproduct of an accepting community and doing silly, exciting and difficult things together.

This ground is holy ground

This Ground participants harvest potatoes at Camp Assiniboia in the fall. (Photo by Barrette Plett)

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After an afternoon of working outside at Camp Assiniboia and eating a potluck together, This Ground participants gather to sing and worship together. (Photo by Barrette Plett)

This Ground is a collective that meets to work, worship and eat together in aid of Camp Assiniboia near Cartier, Man. 

“This ground, this is the place when we come here we are participating in worship just by looking up at these big trees and recognizing God’s greatness,” says Sandy Plett.

Music Camp keeps the tunes playing

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

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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’

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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

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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’

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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)

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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

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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.

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