• Camp Relational?

Posted by: kidhelper on Monday, August 15th, 2011

Camp Relational?

I had the opportunity to minister in a children’s camp in Alberta, Canada called Living Springs Camp located about 40 miles southeast of Edmonton. My first impressions of the camp were rustic, old and very remote in the countryside located alongside a rather stagnant lake called Red Deer Lake. However, as I ventured into my new assignment and I began to make some significant discoveries.

A young man named Mike Parker came to the Edmonton Airport to pick me up. He was very friendly and seemed happy to have me come to camp. We stopped for lunch at one of his favorite places, a donut shop called Tim Horton’s in Wetaskiwin. As we enjoyed our gourmet sandwich, he began telling me his story how ministry at this camp had changed his life while he was in High School. Wow, special!

At the early Sunday afternoon Staff meeting, before camp was to start, I was introduced around the group of camp leaders and counselors. There was about twenty of them, single and in their early twenties. There was a friendly welcome as I introduced myself and gave a brief overview of what my ten messages for the week might include. That is when I began the process of learning about a couple of dozen names. They were patient with my initial efforts. Their obvious interest in the speaker was impressive and I was responding to their friendly welcome.

Then the campers began coming with their parents to register for the week. I am noticing everyone seemed to know each other, or it seemed that way. Camp officially started with Sunday night dinner, following by chapel time with orientation, music and a message by me.

We had a staff meeting early the next morning and later in the night after the kids were in bed. This became the daily pattern. The camp Dean, a local Pastor, convened a brief prayer meeting about fifteen minutes before every chapel time with all the staff that could make it. All this seemed quite normal in my camp experience.

However, As camp evolved I began to notice how connected the staff was to each other.

They all seemed to know each other for years. So I inquired further. Many had come to camp as children. They continued coming the years following. Many went through the camps Leadership In Training Program (LIT). Now here they were—the leaders and counselors at summer camp.

I learned that more than a dozen of the staff present had gone to Capernwray Bible College together. Now they were spending their summers ministering at camp. They are mostly single young adults in thier twenties. They were an impressive group with years of involvement with Church and spiritual things and this rustic camp—called Living Springs.

The camp is 64 years old and located on 7 acres on land. A local farmer recently donated 71 acres of land in a better position on the lake. So this year they are rebuilding and expanding their camp at the new location. Next summer they plan to open the summer camp at the new facility. So I came to camp in the transition. I was given a tour of the new buildings. The new Dining Hall was completed and the Community Bathrooms were done. While I was there they were building the boys cabins, about one a day. Now the girls cabins should be complete the following week (while I was on an Alaskan cruise).

The Camp Dean was called the Director of Discipleship. He was a local pastor who has been on the Camp Board. He was charged with acting a bit like the M.C and functioned like the camp Pastor to the staff. He was in charge of staff meetings and prayer times before chapel. Every morning he brought devotional thoughts about what made their camp distinct. They concluded it was not the facilities, but rather it was the long-standing relationships with supportive churches, campers and staff that was their signature legacy. This is what they are known for and what they do best. It is their purpose to maintain a maximum registration of 100, so they can insure their relational posture. They now see this as their distinctive contribution in camping.

This pastor was attempting to prepare these leaders to preserve their now distinct relational posture to camp next summer to make the transition work. I concur, that at the end of the day in camping, it is the relationships that matter, with campers, leaders and with Jesus.

This is the most relational camp I have ever attended. What a privilege it was for me to serve here. Many of these relational leaders are now my new friends. We are sending emails and have become friends on facebook.

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2 Responses to “• Camp Relational?”

Nancy Kannard Says:
August 15th, 2011 at 7:17 pm

So glad it was a good experience for you, and a good fit too.

Stephanie Haynes Says:
August 16th, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Barney this is great!
So cool to see how you saw us from an outside perspective and to see that you saw God’s love working in us and among us! I hope you have a wonderful rest of your summer!


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