Despite a warm winter, there was enough of the white stuff for youth from Mennonite churches across Alberta to call their annual winter retreats “snow camps.”
On the weekends of Jan. 15 to 17 and Feb. 26 to 28, 2016, junior- and senior-high youth, respectively, enjoyed fellowship, outdoor games and Bible study at Mennonite Church Alberta’s Camp Valaqua in Water Valley. The theme for the events was “As I am.”
At the junior-high event, speaker Donita Wiebe-Neufeld, co-pastor of First Mennonite Church, Edmonton, retold the gospel story of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, looking at how Jesus accepted her as she was and encouraging campers to feel accepted for who they are.
Camper Hayden Goosen said, “It’s great to be around like-minded people. Everyone got along and had fun.”
Senior-high speaker Nikki Olfert used the great commandment from Matthew 22:37-39, emphasizing the need for people to love themselves.
Cassidy Brown, a member of the Youth Leadership Team (YLT), said, “This is good for this age group. . . . They are becoming more aware of themselves and comparing to others. Often they feel they don’t measure up.”
Camp director Jon Olfert and Calgary Foothills youth pastor Chad Miller work with the Youth Leadership Team, made up of five young people from Edmonton, Didsbury and Calgary, to plan province-wide events, providing background support for the team while encouraging them to do the actual administering and leading.
“It is always such a joy to spend time with the future of our church,” said Olfert. “So many wonderful leaders in this group! Hopefully we can bring this energy into our summer camp program.”
Laura Wiebe, a parent and youth sponsor at the junior-high event, was impressed with the team’s work. “Great leadership from the YLT,” she wrote. “Your enthusiasm and humour made the weekend!”