Camp can make such a difference in the life of a camper, even over Zoom. That was the great discovery of the summer of 2020. We were very happy to see so many faces in this online experience!
Focus on Camps
Last year, Fraser Lake Camp’s cabins, which magically turn groups of kids into little families each summer, went empty. There were no echoes of rambunctious camp songs to rattle across the lake. No one reached the top of the climbing wall to the cheers of their counsellors and fellow campers below.
At Shekinah we struggle to sit still. When we decided to shut our doors in March 2020, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it not only felt foreign, it also felt wrong. It is much easier to work harder to try to solve a problem than it is to wait, watch and be still. What we have found as a staff is that slowing down and letting go has opened up new opportunities.
After a week of non-stop activities soundtracked by endless cheering and screaming kids, you might think the staff of Camp Koinonia would sleep in. Instead, every Sunday morning they put on their Birkenstocks and cleanest clothes and head to Whitewater Mennonite Church in nearby Boissevain.
Summer Camp 2020 was full of innovations. Almost everything needed adjustments. We held staff Zoom parties in the spring to begin to build the camp community feeling that usually happens naturally at our staff training week.
In this year of so many disappointments, it is easy to lose track of the good things. Even when summer camp is cancelled and so many major events are postponed, God brings us joy.
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)
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.
Every night at Ontario Mennonite Music Camp we sing a closing song around the campfire to send campers off to bed.
“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.
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.
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.
Over the past few years, the structure of Mennonite Church Manitoba’s Camps with Meaning has undergone some major shifts. It has gone from a three-camp system to a two-camp model, running spring and summer camps at Assiniboia and Koinonia.
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.