Lighting a fire in children’s faith

February 12, 2020 | Focus on Camps | Volume 24 Issue 4
Chris Pot | Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp
New Hamburg, Ont.
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.

And as we spent this final night together there was a strong sense that the group of individuals that started this journey back in June is not just a group of individuals anymore, but a strong community that has journeyed through good times, hard times and everything in between.

It always amazes me how this happens, how a group of strangers can become such a close-knit community in such a relatively short amount of time. But it’s neat to see year after year. God is faithful in that he uses each individual’s unique characteristics, traits and experiences, and blends them all together to create a team that serves the campers so well.

Last summer we explored the theme of “What does peace have to do with me?”

We—the staff and campers, led by our camp pastor, Emily Rempel (aka Pinky)—were challenged to think about what peace is and what role it can play in our daily lives.

This exploration involved our staff leading skits about arguing over an apple; singing our memory verses each day to help us remember what the Bible teaches about peacemaking; and many activities that encouraged us to be better peacemakers as we leave camp.

Pinky also introduced two new unique ideas to Hidden Acres:

  • During one of our weeks we participated in the Kairos blanket exercise. The unique, participatory history lesson was developed in collaboration with Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers and educators, and it fosters truth, understanding, respect and reconciliation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
  • The other idea was the introduction of a Wall of Peacemakers. Throughout each week of camp, Pinky would introduce a new peacemaker, ranging from influential leaders from across the globe, like Gandhi, to local leaders, like Katie Gingerich, who founded The Ripple Effect Education, to our own campers, who each week learned about peace and took the hope and inspiration home with them.

All of this helped to develop a greater understanding of peace and how we can be peacemakers in all areas of our lives. 

Read more from our Focus on Camps:
Living sanctuaries
A path towards reconciliation
Jeremy Wiens goes to Snow Camp
'Hi, let's go join the rest of the group'
Assiniboia, Koinonia: Similar but different
Rhythm and Song Camp breaks into rap

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)

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