Focus on Camps

Lighting a fire in children’s faith

Huxley Phillips, left, Mason Avery and De’Sean Burnette enjoy a campfire at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp, New Hamburg, Ont. (Photo: Aaron Lantz / Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp)

Advanced Camper Experience (ACE) campers Seth Bowman, left, Adam Roth, Carter Cochrane, Philip Cressman, I.J. Bellamy, ‘Speegon’ and Gabriel VanDyk learn about leadership through canoeing. (Photo by Aaron Lantz)

Sitting around the campfire after saying goodbye to our final group of campers on the last night of the summer, the staff spent the evening reflecting on the summer and all that happened.

We told stories and laughed about all of the hilarity that ensued over the previous 10 weeks. Sometimes we cried as we reminisced about the impact that our experiences had on us.

Living sanctuaries

Leaders-in-Training Isabelle Netherton and Micah Peters-Unrau, standing left and right, are pictured with LiT leader Joanna Loepp Thiessen. (Ontario Mennonite Music Camp photo)

Every night at Ontario Mennonite Music Camp we sing a closing song around the campfire to send campers off to bed.

A path towards reconciliation

Willowgrove added the blanket exercise to its program in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, more specifically the call to educate Canadians. (Willowgrove photo)

“Now I know what I should have been teaching.”

These are the words of a retired history teacher after participating in a Kairos blanket exercise. As a blanket exercise facilitator, I am often struck by the insights of participants, adults and children alike. 

Jeremy Wiens goes to Snow Camp

Jeremy Wiens.

Mikka Kostanecki and Katrina Janssen roast hot dogs at the final campfire at MC Alberta’s Snow Camp 2020, held at Camp Valaqua. (Photo by Jon Olfert)

There are extreme weather warnings throughout the province as the wind chill dips to -40C. Yes, it’s cold, but nothing is going to stop Jeremy Wiens from going to Mennonite Church Alberta’s Snow Camp, held this year from Jan. 10 to 12 at Camp Valaqua in Water Valley.

‘Hi, let’s go join the rest of the group’

This is Fraser Lake Camp’s 65th year in operation. It serves 300 campers each summer on 110 hectares in the Canadian Shield. (Photo by Janien Reesor)

Stepping off that bus for the first time can be scary; it can be a big deal. The minds of many are on the edge of uncertainty and fear. If those steps take you into the embrace of a healthy community that welcomes you as you are, some magical things can happen. The way I see it, the community of summer camp provides two things for children: independence and belonging.

Rhythm and Song Camp breaks into rap

Laura Moolenbeek rehearses a rap written by the boys cabin at Silver Lake Mennonite Camp. By the end of the week, campers were ready to perform the rap they prepared at the banquet before the whole camp. It was amazing to see kids coming out of their shells, and finding common ground in music. (Photo by Karen Cornies)

According to camp counsellor Laura Moolenbeek, Silver Lake Mennonite Camp’s first Rhythm and Song Camp was an incredible week for campers and staff. Seven- to 16-year-olds came with a huge range of musical experience. They brought a wide range of perspectives to each session. The boys cabin chose to write and perform a rap for their counsellors. 

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