The smell of pancakes on the griddle, the roar of laughter while trying new activities, and the joyful noise of campfire singing are forever etched in my heart.
Summer camps and camp programming have long been a passion of mine. Although I didn’t grow up as a die-hard camper, camp-related experiences in my childhood, youth and then as an adult, made it clear that camp had my heart. Special things happen at camp. Camp matters.
Fast forward some years and I find myself still deeply connected to camps. I know that my passion has everything to do with possibilities and relationships. I love the mentorship opportunities with staff and the impact on the campers, whether children, youth or adults. I love what camp does for families, volunteers and for our communities.
I have worked at several Mennonite camps, provided leadership at a camp exclusively for persons experiencing disabilities, and volunteered on many camp boards.
Now, I find myself as the liaison between Mennonite Church Saskatchewan and an outside consulting firm on a camp study that began last year, a study that will serve the regional church into the future. More than ever, it is the possibilities and the relationships that motivate my involvement.
MC Saskatchewan’s council began exploring the benefits of having a deeper conversation about our three camps and the programs they run. There are assets to consider, as well as individual camp boards, executive directors, and teams of dedicated staff and volunteers. And there are those who attend these camps, some connected to our Mennonite churches and many who are not. As we waded through and then emerged from the pandemic, we asked many questions about the future of our camps. We saw the real challenges ahead. These issues and trends are not unique to our camps.
We were thankful to connect with a consulting firm that understood who we were and what our goals were.
And then the work of researching historical documents, identifying current trends, interviews and consultations began. There were conversations and data to record and discern. Would themes emerge? What might they tell us?
What we continue to know for sure is that camps matter. We know camps are important to us as a faith community, and that passion for our camps runs very deep.
We are confident that there is much to celebrate, and so much we can learn from this process. What will we discover about how camping ministry will grow into the future?
Time will tell, as the process is not yet complete. For now, we are excited and grateful to dig deep into the wonders and miracles of summer camp. Young and old, camps matter to MC Sask.
Christine Epp assisted with the recent MC Saskatchewan camp study. For more on this camp study, see “The question of camps.”
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