Innovation, creativity and pivoting were key strengths that non-profit organizations used in 2020, especially if their main revenue streams involved gathering people together in large groups.
At Youth Farm Bible Camp, we quickly adapted in the middle of our fundraising season to be a safe place from which to deliver groceries and meals. We cancelled our traditional Vereniki supper and were blessed with hundreds of people ordering groceries online and coming to the camp for pickup every Thursday. In addition to groceries, many purchased our delicious, made-that-day cinnamon buns and the hot meal of the week that was slow-roasted on our smokers. Our staff were engaged with our constituents and rallied to maintain many ministries going on at our site.
There was a buzz of activity onsite that included equestrian lessons (when the province opened), respite camps for special-need adults, day camps, Moses’ tabernacle tours, and family fun at the Youth Farm corn maze.
Our summer camp program was very different than previous years, but all of the opportunities helped our staff and board learn new lessons. There are new programs, policies, and procedures that we would never have tried if it were not for the new challenges experienced. Many will stay even when we are no longer living in a pandemic.
Psychologist Henry Cloud has expressed the value churches and ministries have in today’s mental-health epidemic. What we offer at the farm—equestrian-assisted learning, animal therapy, retreating, family adventures in creation with creatures, and connections with people who are especially challenged—increases mental and emotional health. There is also so much more that camps offer to our world that give opportunities for healthy spiritual, emotional, physical and mental growth.
For the last 80 years, the mission statement of Youth Farm Bible Camp has been to “Share Jesus with people and provide a place to serve.”
We hope that our summer camping program will come back and thrive. We also know that, as our programs shift and change, our overall mission will stay the same. The summer camp program does not define our corporate identity as much as it did a year ago.
Youth Farm Bible Camp’s corn maze theme last year was ‘Love thy neighbour,’ honouring its neighbour, the Mennonite Nursing Home, and its dedicated staff. (Photo by Mark Wurtz)