focus on camping

Can church be more like camp?

Every winter, I hear a radio advertisement for a back-to-the-woods summer children’s camp in Ontario. The ad closes with the tagline, “You send us your child, and we’ll send you back a new one.” It’s a great slogan. It points out that renewal and transformation occur when people are pulled away from their daily routines to spend time in the great outdoors.

Stepping outside the comfort zone

Campers learn to canoe on Lake Laverne at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp. (Photo by Chris Pot)

I had the pleasure of leading the Leaders in Training (LIT) and Advanced Camper Experience (ACE) programs at Hidden Acres last summer. Both programs offer youth a chance to further develop leadership skills, study the Bible, build community, spend time outdoors, and learn the ins and outs of serving at camp.

Witnessing God at Camp Assiniboia

Nadya Langelotz is pictured at a ‘theme meal’ at Camp Assiniboia. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

As I prepare to enter my eighth summer as a camp staffer, I have an overwhelming abundance of memories to reflect on. From childhood weeks at Camp Moose Lake and the pubescent discoveries at Camp Koinonia, all the way to last summer, when I fell into awkwardly new territory to direct at Camp Assiniboia.

Fun is a camp by-product

Canoeing across a lake at camp for the first time is not easy. (Fraser Lake Camp photo)

The word “fun” is often used in association with camp but, from my perspective, fun is not the meat and potatoes of what happens at camp. Fun is the byproduct of an accepting community and doing silly, exciting and difficult things together.

This ground is holy ground

This Ground participants harvest potatoes at Camp Assiniboia in the fall. (Photo by Barrette Plett)

After an afternoon of working outside at Camp Assiniboia and eating a potluck together, This Ground participants gather to sing and worship together. (Photo by Barrette Plett)

This Ground is a collective that meets to work, worship and eat together in aid of Camp Assiniboia near Cartier, Man. 

“This ground, this is the place when we come here we are participating in worship just by looking up at these big trees and recognizing God’s greatness,” says Sandy Plett.

Music Camp keeps the tunes playing

Brandon Leis makes music at an outdoor camp service with his daughter Madeline. (Photo courtesy of Brandon Leis)

Ontario Mennonite Music Campers fine-tune a musical number from Jesus Christ Superstar during dress rehearsal. (Ontario Mennonite Music Camp photo)

Marie Penner from Toronto United Mennonite Church had a dream of a camp that would develop the musical talents of young Mennonites in Ontario.

Faith leads to composting

Anna Kuepfer (aka Teka) is pictured in her role as Hidden Acres' environmental services coordinator. (Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp photo)

A camper at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp 'takes aim at summer.' (Photo: Anna Kuepfer, Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp)

Donning my biology lab coat and goggles, I push through the bustling crowd of eager campers who are anxiously waiting to sing for their lunchtime mail delivery, and I raise my hand in the air. “Ready?” I ask. “One, two, three!” And the crowd of 80 bursts into an enthusiastic, barely organized uproar.

No place I’d rather be

Janet Peters, right, the associate program director for MC Manitoba's Camps with Meaning, is pictured with an adult camper. (Camps with Meaning photo)

A young girl pretends she is an expert equestrian. Slightly older, she learns the difference between a J-stroke and a C-stroke. Later, as a counsellor, she races through pouring rain near midnight to the lodge bathroom. Another night, she holds a tiny hand as someone struggles to fall asleep in a strange place.

Jump out of your comfort zone at Peace Camp

Johnny Wideman of Theatre of the Beat shares his peacebuilding wisdom with campers at Conrad Grebel University College's Peace Camp. Peace Camp is a day camp and peace educational program for youth aged 11 to 14 in Waterloo Region. Campers learn that peace is possible as they share stories and learn from people in the community and meet people from various cultural backgrounds, faiths, and orientations. (Peace Camp photo)

Have you ever been in a place, space or community where you have been encouraged to try something new? Have you been challenged to take risks and leap out of your comfort zone? Have you tasted the confidence that comes with mastering new skills?

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