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.
focus on camping
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.
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.
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 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.
Marie Penner from Toronto United Mennonite Church had a dream of a camp that would develop the musical talents of young Mennonites in Ontario.
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.
When I was 5, my parents dropped me off for a week of camp at Silver Lake, near Sauble Beach, Ont. I was terrified. When they were trying to say their goodbyes, I would not let them go.
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.
Many summer camps offer horseback riding as part of their overall programming. The Youth Farm Bible Camp is developing its summer horse program into a year-round ministry.
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?