It is a delight to report that all six of our Camps enjoyed a good summer of ministry. Although not yet quite ‘normal,’ and most overnight children’s camps were still not possible, the need for modified programming brought creative innovation, and some of the changes will be keepers.
Charis Camp, Chilliwack, BC
Submitted by Darren Duncalfe, Executive Director
This past summer Charis Camp was able to host two weeks of day camps and a week of family camp. Overnight camps in B.C. still face a daunting amount of protocols and with only a skeletal staff it was something they couldn’t realistically do. All camps had a theme verse of “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” Because of late notice regarding government grants, they only had a few days and a few people to pull together what normally takes a team and a few months to make happen. Their summer staff were amazing; without them, camp would not have happened. The core team of volunteers, Chad and Robert, with Sara, Andrew and Jocelyn on program and Facilities, sacrificed greatly to keep the rest of the team focused and doing a great job. Without them, they would not have been able to facilitate the summer grant student team.
Unfortunately, August saw the continued trend of cancelled groups and confusion regarding government mandates and expectations. It has been a difficult year and as they look back thinking what could have been done differently, it’s easy to forget that they were trying to make decisions based on assurances that “it’s only for a couple more weeks.” Now as we face an uncertain fall season they are buoyed by the fact that a significant part of the donations that have kept them going has come from people under thirty who have been impacted by camp and are now giving back. As well, they have a fairly full calendar. Your prayers that groups will follow through would be appreciated. Donations can be made at www.chariscamp.com.
Rivers Edge Camp & Retreat Centre, Cremona, Alberta
From Family Camps to Day Camps for Kids, and even some kids’ overnight camps, there were good times of ministry, fun, and relaxation at Rivers Edge Camp this summer. “It was a real joy for staff to welcome children for overnight camp as restrictions let up,” says Interim Executive Director, Terry McKenna. New at Camp was the café and grill, a place to order food any time of the day and eat it inside or out. Alongside the regular camp dining room meals, this gave additional meal choices. It was wildly successful with frequent lineups. A mini donut machine and hot donut sundaes were also popular. These new ways of serving food were put in place because of COVID distancing regulations. “We will do this again and are making plans to have the café grill available for groups who come for retreats,” says Terry. Another keeper from this year is extra weekends of Family Camp to make this experience accessible for more people.
Rivers Edge is currently taking bookings for the fall. See riversedgecamp.org. New Executive Director, Andrew Fitch, will begin mid-September. Terry will continue as Director of Finance/CFO.
Whispering Pines Camp, Elkwater, Alberta
This summer, Whispering Pines Camp hosted five weeks of Family Camp. Three of these weeks included meals, whereas the other two weeks were a traditional camping trip, but included camp activities, programming and daily devotional and worship times. They were grateful to have the help of 5 summer students, hired with the help of government grants. The majority of activities were held outdoors and families enjoyed the beach, took part in crafts, activities such as a climbing wall, pellet guns, archery, an escape room, treasure hunts, listened to speakers and music, and relaxed around the campfires with friends.
Denver Knodel, Executive Director, hopes to continue to add a couple of extra Family Camp weekends again next year, interspersed with regular camps. They will encourage churches in the area to share a camp-planned weekend for an opportunity to meet others in the family of God and grow together. He also noted the benefits of families coming to camp together. “It was a bonding time for families. Since parents and kids were doing things together it may make it easier to have further conversations about faith at home,” he says. Whispering Pines Camp is a year-round camp and is open for retreats. See more at whisperingpinescamp.ca.
Echo Lake Bible Camp, Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan
Leaders in Training sessions for 13-18 year-olds ran simultaneously with Kids’ Day Camp which was great for the kids and a good experience for the young leaders. Day Camp was new this year and was planned as an alternative to overnight camps before regulations were in place. This gave an opportunity to reach local families who typically don’t attend overnight camp. Feedback was positive so a Day Camp may be included in ELBC’s summer lineup moving forward, along with the return of overnight camps. Partway through the summer, all Covid restrictions were dropped, and normal operations resumed.
A YWAM group, whose ministry trip overseas was cancelled due to Covid, came to the Camp instead and helped at Kids’ Day Camp and the summer work bee. Mostly youth came for the work bee and beautiful wood salvaged from an old cabin was repurposed into wainscotting in the dining room. A ceremony to honour a very special Camp supporter couple was a highlight of Family Camp. They had been bringing their horses to camp for over 35 years for horse rides at Kids and Family camps. “Next year we are planning for a normal summer, but it is important to have a Plan B,” says Monique Strachan, Co-Exec Dir. “Sometimes there has to be a catalyst for things to change. We need to take these opportunities to do what God is asking of us.”
More info at www.elbc.co
Camp Mishewah, Killaloe, Ontario
The summer season at Mishewah ran with modified programming. Campers at the 4 weeks of Family Camp enjoyed outdoor services, campfires, and the option to purchase takeout meals from the kitchen. At the waterfront, families swam, canoed, kayaked, and sailed. There was a full team guarding the waterfront, however, to give families more opportunity to enjoy the beach, signs were posted letting people know they were responsible for the safety of themselves & their families during the hours not covered by lifeguards. This worked well and gave many more hours every day for fun on the beach and in the water.
On-site Kids Camp was a ‘no go’ this year, and Mish in a Box was sent to homes instead. These kits contained everything needed for Bible lessons, activities, and crafts for an online 5-day camp program. Mishewah was a-buzz with campers in cabins, lakeside suites, RVs, and tents during unstructured time in August. “A highlight this summer,” says Managing Director Jeanette Balzer, “was the baptism of two of our staff in the lake.” The Camp will close for the season at end of September.
Plans for their Jubilee Weekend are underway, a Homecoming that will celebrate 50 years of ministry since the Camp was purchased by the Missionary Church in 1972. See Camp info at mishewah.ecmcamps.ca.
Stayner Camp, Stayner, Ontario
It was a positive summer. Unstructured camping was followed by Family Camp “Reimagined,” held over the August long weekend and then a second week at the beginning of August. Although they were unable to hold Kids’ Camps again this year, Family Camps focused on whole families doing things together. Going forward, Managing Director Kyle Moore says, “We may change the look of Family Camp a little. Not what it is, but how we do it.” Worship has always been in the tabernacle but this year they were out in the field in the beauty of nature. They built an amphitheatre and held an Under the Stars café with music. After serving up waffles with fruit and ice cream, Kyle’s daughter, Madeleine, sang and played guitar accompanied by her friend Charissa on the keyboard. This summer, the Camp was approached by a church with four campuses about holding outdoor Sunday services on their property. It was a great partnership, and Family Campers also attended. “We will be continuing to look at all our programs with a broader view, thinking outside the box,” says Kyle.
Next year they will refashion Arts Camp under the guidance of Steve & Trish Preston of Funtastical Studios. A partnership with Scripture Union will bring stronger Bible and sports elements. Stayner Camp is year-round and open to retreats.
This article is featured in the Fall 2021 edition of The EMCC Together Newsletter.
Download a PDF copy of the newsletter and view previous EMCC Together publications here.