Living sanctuaries

February 12, 2020 | Focus on Camps | Volume 24 Issue 4
Joanna Loepp Thiessen | Ontario Mennonite Music Camp
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. More often than not, it’s our favourite tune, “Sanctuary”: “O Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true / And with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.” This song became a theme for our time at camp as we sought to be a sanctuary for God’s graciousness and bounty.

In my own life, the idea of sanctuary has been meaningful, and I see the song sung in many community contexts that I enter into. One of those is in my former church in San Antonio, Texas, where we were a sanctuary for refugees by being a safe, trauma-informed space.

At Music Camp, we, too, are seeking to be a safe space for all who enter, no matter age, ability, gender or orientation. One of the goals for the new Leaders-in-Training (LiT) program was for these brave individuals to be living sanctuaries at camp. We had two fantastic LiTs at camp in 2019.

Some of the opportunities and responsibilities that the LiT campers had included attending a weekend retreat before camp began; leading in chapel planning; planning and leading rec time; receiving mentorship from staff members; providing assistance and participation in ensembles; assisting in small-group leadership; and getting their “sillies” on while leading campfire.

What stands out for me the most about our LiTs from 2019 was the way that they became sanctuaries in our camp environment. They provided a safe space for campers to process their day, they pushed campers to try new activities, and their personal devotion to God was a model for our campers and staff.

For me, being able to facilitate holy spaces throughout the day for our LiTs to grow and develop was truly an honour.

The LiT program is a great opportunity to develop leadership skills in an area of specialty, with mentorship from a supervising staffer. The program is designed to incorporate leadership skills, teamwork-building experiences, and growth in faith in the context of an enjoyable musical atmosphere.

We are seeking energized youth who have finished Grade 11 or 12 to join our LiT program this summer. Camp experience isn’t required. Join us in fun, fellowship and music. We look forward to creating sanctuaries together. 

Read more from our Focus on Camps:
Lighting a fire in children's faith
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

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)

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