Camp Partnership: Rapids, Rain, Rescues… Rejoicing

Reflections about the Alberta Camp Partnership from Fran Purvis, Campus Minister at the University of Regina.

Kyle D., Danielle and Andrew staying cheerful on their canoe trip.

Kyle D., Danielle and Andrew staying cheerful on their canoe trip.

As we embarked on our second day of paddling down the North Saskatchewan River, one of our students prayed “Lord, challenge us beyond what we can handle, so we can learn to trust you with everything.”   Well, the whole day we chuckled at this prayer, as one misadventure after another came our way: cold rain, rapids, a rescue of one of our boats, tire-deep mud, keys locked inside a vehicle, a broken Coleman stove… It was indeed a day of learning to rely on Jesus, not only for practical providence and care, but for good spirits and humour.

As part of our team training time, Kyle McLean (Campus Minister at U of Regina), myself, 2 staff from Alberta and our 8 students from U of Regina made our way down the river last weekend on a three day paddling trip, which was part of a camp-campus partnership we are participating in.

Camp Partnership team stopping for lunch on their canoe trip - Sheryll, Kyle, Danielle, Andrew, Hailey, Sarah, Fran, Andrew, Kelsey and Darian.

Camp Partnership team stopping for lunch on their canoe trip – Sheryll, Kyle, Danielle, Andrew, Hailey, Sarah, Fran, Andrew, Kelsey and Darian.

During our trip down-river, our team experienced the love and laughter of the Holy Spirit despite undesirable (and for over half the team, quite unfamiliar) circumstances. Moments like snuggling 12 people into a 4 person tent to read Narnia and tell stories, helping teammates stay warm, the glimpse of beautiful sun on the water, and just realizing that we have it in our will to choose cheer and belief, instead of misery, were powerful experiences of God’s care.

We are now into our 3rd week of the Camp Partnership at Alberta Pioneer Ranch Camp. Camp is a powerful space in the way that it provides both special and life changing “away” experiences, such as our canoe trip, but also because of the endless ordinary moments where students (and their staff!) encounter Jesus through service and community life.

Camp is hard work: it is a highly scheduled, relational and deeply communal environment. Every day we are requiring, asking for and are experiencing in profound ways the strength and joy of Jesus in the simple things like doing dishes, learning new skills, teaching canoeing or climbing to kids, or spending time with teammates by the water, away from the internal and external noise of our lives. There is something about camp in the way that it pushes you to grow, and lets you know Christ’s strength in your weakness. Camp is also fun! It is a place that grows deep and lasting friendships, and where pure joy is to be had.

I’m reminded often of the scripture from Isaiah 12:2 where the prophet declares that God is, “my strength and my song.” God is providing daily not only the bread we need to get by, but far more: the rich fare of relationships, joy and growth that make life delightful and good! Our days at camp have already been so full of growth and life, we’re excited and expectant for what Jesus has for us as we do life here the next 6 weeks!

Fran (second from left) and her students Sheryll, Kelsey and Hailey sitting around the fire on their canoe trip.

Fran (second from left) and her students Sheryll, Kelsey and Hailey sitting around the fire on their canoe trip.

 

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Top 8 reasons to send your kids to summer camp

Are you scratching your head trying to find fun activities to keep your kids busy this summer? Or maybe you are looking for meaningful experiences for your kids where they will learn and grow. Why not send them to camp?

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Here are the top 8 reasons you should send your kids to summer camp:

8. Your kids will grow in independence.

In a new environment, kids get to take risks and test their abilities in a supportive and safe place. They grow confidence in taking on challenges on their own.

7. Your kids will make new friends.

Kids not only make new friends at camp, they also learn how to relate to others who are different from them. They learn how to work through conflict with others in their cabin, how to encourage others in overcoming challenging activities, like sailing or horseback riding.

6. Your kids will try new activities.

It’s time to broaden their horizons! Some activities, like horse-back riding, canoeing, or mountain-biking, aren’t readily available in the city. Camp is a great place to try new activities with the help of certified and knowledgeable instructors.

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5. Your kids will get outside and get active.

Instead of sitting with their electronic devices, kids can run around, get some fresh air, and develop healthy lifestyle habits. They also learn to appreciate the beauty of nature and all the little quirky creatures that they find outside.

4. Your kids will learn about themselves.

Their self-awareness grows as they have new experiences and are helped to reflect and look within. Camp is a safe environment for kids to learn to express their emotions and become sensitive to the feelings of others; camp gives kids space to grow their emotional intelligence.

3. Your kids will grow in their relationship with God.

Camp is a place where experiential learning happens, including in the realm of faith. Kids not only have a safe place where they can ask spiritual questions, they also get to see and experience faith values lived out every day at camp by their peers and leaders.

2. Your kids will develop leadership skills.

From learning to clean up a tent or cabin, to lining up to use the shower, to leading a silly song – these are the beginnings of leadership that can grow and mature over time. Camp develops leadership skills that will be useful in school and in the workplace as kids grow older.

1. Your kids will be mentored by older leaders.

Whether it’s a staff member, volunteer, or leader-in-training, your kids will be mentored by older leaders. When campers leave camp, they often rave about the leaders they had – older people who have valued them and helped them make the most of their time at camp.

There are nine spectacular Inter-Varsity Camps across Canada. Choose the one that best suits the kids in your life by visiting our camps.

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Have you signed your kids up for camp this summer? What’s YOUR top reason for sending them to summer camp? Share with us in the comments below!

Young people thrive when good mentors invest in them

Young people have the drive, desire, and guts to make a difference in the world. What they often don’t have is someone who can walk alongside to coach and encourage them.

According to the Hemorrhaging Faith report, young people who were supported as they led felt affirmed and found joy in their service. When youth have the chance to lead alongside a trusted mentor, they grow exponentially in the ways they lead and invest in others’ lives.

Wasim, one alumnus, now works with Free the Children.

Wasim, one alumnus, now works with Free the Children.

Take a look at Wasim’s story. After graduation, his mentor from Inter-Varsity continued to walk alongside him as he made life and work choices. Now, in his work with Free the Children, he is putting leadership lessons into practice.

 

 

In Korea, Sydney learned new ways of praying with friends.

In Korea, Sydney learned new ways of praying with friends.

Take a look at Sydney’s story. He pursued his unique identity as a cultural bridge-builder to befriend international students and go on an exchange to South Korea. “My Inter-Varsity staff workers have been a tremendous influence,” he says. “Many of them met with me on a weekly basis.”

 

 

Carrie spends a lot of time investing in the lives of fellow staff at camp.

Carrie spends a lot of time investing in the lives of fellow staff at camp.

Take a look at Carrie’s story. She grew up going to camp and now works at Ontario Pioneer Camp full time. “I get to see people meet Jesus for the first time to challenge them to ask him questions, and to walk with them while they search for him,” says Carrie.

 

 

When she graduated high school, Ruth passed the leadership baton to her friend Ness.

When she graduated high school, Ruth passed the leadership baton to her friend Ness.

Take a look at the story of Ruth, Agape, and Ness. They realized their dream of starting a Christian fellowship in their high school and have returned as mentors since their graduation. “I want to see a group of students loving on others and not be afraid to show their love for God in school,” says Ness. “I want to see students grow.”

 

 

Read the stories of these young leaders, who are investing deeply in others because they have been mentored by those who came before them.

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What makes young people excited about faith?

The emerging generation of young adults love to serve and care for others around them. Their faith becomes tangible as they work for social justice.

According to the Hemorrhaging Faith report, seven out of 10 committed Christian young adults said their faith came alive because they participated in a mission trip. When young people take what they learn in Christian community and apply it to mission, they become partners with God in influencing the world.

Joanne and kids having fun at S.C.A. camp

Joanne and kids having fun at S.C.A. camp

Take a look at Joanne’s story. She explored God’s call to mission at the Urbana 12 Student Missions Conference and responded to his invitation to work with First Nations people in Central Manitoba.

“I decided I wanted to give the first fruits of my time and work after university to God by doing full-time missionary work,” she says.

 

As a high school student, Aidan used his photographic skills to raise funds for Africa

As a high school student, Aidan used his photographic skills to raise funds for Africa

Take a look at Aidan’s story. When he sought a concrete experience of God after high school, he packed up his photographic equipment and headed to Africa to capture the work of a Christian non-profit organization on film.

“Coming out of high school, I was questioning everything,” he says. “This experience affirmed my faith and was something I needed.”

 

Read the stories of Joanne and Aidan, who are partnering with God in mission to influence the world.

“Urbana Opens Door to Mission – University graduate sows seeds of faith in remote places” – Joanne Augustin

“From Alberta to Africa – A young photographer hones his skills at summer camp” – Aidan Ware

 

Give the Gift of Camp this Christmas

‘Twas soon to be Christmas, when all through Inter-Varsity

Everyone was a-stirring, the camp folks especially.

We launched the camp websites, come register here!

We’re all hoping the camp season will soon be near.

With just over a month until Christmas, we’re already thinking ahead to camp next summer – canoe outtrips, horseback riding, and silly songs around the campfire. Why?

Camp registration for next summer is open on Monday, November 18, 2013 for Inter-Varsity’s nine camps across the country!

If you are considering whether to send your child to camp, it’s time to start doing some research into what kind of camp would be suitable for your kids. If you have teenage children who are looking to developing their leadership skills in a Leaders In Training program, now is the time to start putting together applications and preparing for interviews in the new year.

At camp, kids grow in independence, leadership skills, and their ability to relate well with other kids. What better way to spend a week or a few weeks in the summer than trying new activities outdoors, making new friends, and making memories for a lifetime? Click here to view our list of camps by province and region.

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Inter-Varsity Camps’ Christmas Catalogue is here!

This Christmas, give the gift of camp to help support campers and staff in the upcoming year. Instead of a standard Christmas gift, why not give a gift that will help thousands of campers gain confidence, meet positive role models and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ at one of our camps across the country? 

When you purchase a gift from Inter-Varsity Camps’ Gift Catalogue, you help make camp ministry possible. With gifts ranging from $25 to $1,500, you can provides gifts like Bibles, riding helmets and canoes. Click here to browse our gift catalogue and start your Christmas shopping!

The Best Present Ever: Caleb’s Summer Experience

Caleb Colby

 

What a summer! We wrestled on the Wibit, we sang in the Lodge, we sailed, we stubbed toes, and we did it together. Together with good friends; people who take us to the Nurse, who laugh at our bad jokes, who share their stories and who listen to ours. We were known, and we were loved.

In short, being at camp was the best present ever. Continue to Pacific Pioneer Camp’s blog to find out why camp was the best present ever for Caleb Colby.

 

Kids Benefit from Unplugging at Summer Camp

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At camp, there are no plugs, no cords, no chargers, no cables and no screens. Campers and staff are asked to set aside their electronic devices so they can focus on all that camp has to offer. We spoke with Calvin Bennett, National Director of Inter-Varsity’s Camp Ministry (East), and asked him to share some of his thoughts about why kids benefit from unplugging at summer camp.

In the absence of mobile phones and video games, kids at camp benefit from being unplugged and start to find their life can be full of joy and many other things…

Face-time instead of Facebook. Instead of being glued to their screens with “friends” on social media platforms like Facebook, they have face-time with other campers while waiting in line at the tuck shop or goofing off in the dining hall. Without the trappings of texting, Twitter, and Instagram, campers are free to focus on building relationships with someone right in front of them. They learn how to meet new friends, have a conversation in person, and work through conflict with others.

Engagement instead of entertainment. Even in the quiet moments, while kids are waiting for something, they have learned to reach out for a device to stay entertained. Calvin says, “I see increasingly there isn’t room in people’s lives to hear from God. At camp, kids are given time and space to hear from God and think about things.” In quiet moments around a camp fire or during time with their chalet/cabins at night, without the opportunity to escape into virtual reality, campers have time to engage with the important questions of life.

Activity instead of apathy. The increasing use of entertainment revolving around screens means kids are adopting a sedentary lifestyle. Gone are the days where they ride their bikes around the block; kids are more likely to want to stay inside and resign to staring at a screen. At camp, instead of mind-numbing apathy, kids get active running around and being out in nature.

For parents who are concerned about being just a text message away from their children at camp, we encourage you to trust the staff to be in touch when necessary and to allow your kids the opportunity to work through the struggles they face at camp on their own. Kids gain confidence when they go through the process of problem-solving in a safe environment with mentors guiding the way.

As for the rest of the year when kids are in their regular routine, one of the things that Calvin has found helpful is to set limits on the amount of time and the times in the day when his family has “screen time.” Much like in a camp setting without technology, screen-free times allow space for conversation and community to form.

Other articles that might interest you about unplugging at camp:

“Sleepaway camp gives kids a tech break, and might even save your marriage”  (CNN)

“Summer camp: unplugged or unfair?” (Huffington Post)

“At tech-free camps, people pay hundreds to unplug” (NPR)

How to Prepare for Overnight Summer Camp

Going away for overnight camp for the first time might be pretty nerve-wrecking for you and your kids. Instead of looking forward to all the fun they’ll have jumping in lakes and learning to ride a horse, you’re losing sleep over what they’ll eat at camp and whether they will make any friends.

In order to calm some of your pre-camp jitters, we asked Andrea Richardson, camp director at Circle Square Ranch Brantford in Ontario, one of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship’s nine camps across Canada, for some advice on how to prepare for overnight summer camps – for your young campers, your older campers, and for yourself as parents.

For younger campers:

1. Practice sleepovers.

Arrange for your child to sleep over at a relative’s house for one night, then try two or three nights. Make sure there is no parent contact with the child – this might be harder for you in the end! But it gives your child practice with the sleep-away experience in a more familiar setting before they get to camp.

2. Practice living out of a suitcase.

When your child is at camp, she will need to know where to put her dirty laundry and where to find her pajamas. Practicing with a suitcase at home helps her learn these skills before she is in a cabin full of other girls and their stuff.

3. Practice putting on bug spray and sunscreen.

It might be easy to overlook these simple tasks, but they are things that campers have to do several times a day at camp. Get easy-to-use bottles that enable kid-friendly application.

4. Talk about when to ask for help in resolving conflicts.

Some kids will struggle with poor peer dynamic all week and wait until they get home to talk about it. Encourage your child to talk to their cabin leader or counselor when they feel upset. Leaders are trained to help kids work through conflict and ensure that everyone is having a good time.

For older campers:

1. Help them prepare for the break from technology.

One of the great things about being away at camp is the chance to be outdoors and interact with other kids. But this might be an adjustment for kids who are hyper-connected on their electronic devices during the school year. Talk about the benefits they can gain when they take a break from their screens.

2. Remind them that rules at camp may be different than rules at home.

Your kids might be used to a certain bedtime or wake up time at home. When they are away at camp, they will have to live by the camp’s schedule and rules. In order to have a good time at camp, they need to learn to respect a new set of rules.

For parents: 

1. Stay positive when talking with your kids about camp.

Avoid statements like “I don’t know if you’ll make it” or “I think you’ll be homesick.” Instead, go for statements like “You’ll have such an adventure, I can’t wait for you to tell me all about it.”

2. If you kids call and say they’re feeling homesick…

On a first call home, parent shouldn’t offer to come and get the child – if they do, the kid will take them up on it. Once it’s on the table, it’s hard to take back. Instead, help your kids remember the positives of the day. Congratulate them on their successes so far. Assure them that everything at home is fine. Avoid statements like “I miss you so much too, I don’t know how I’ll last to Saturday.” Someone has to be sure things are going to be okay, and it’s going to have to be the parent.

 

Who knew that a week away at summer camp would create so many opportunities for learning – not only do kids get to learn how to paddle a canoe or take care of a horse, they also get to learn life-long skills like asking for help and taking care of their belongings.

If you haven’t signed your kids up for camp, there’s still time! Visit our camps’ websites for more information. Have a fun and safe summer!

 

 

 

5 Reasons to Send your Kids to Camp this Summer

Are you running out of craft ideas or getting tired of taking the kids to the splash pad? Still looking for summer options for your children? Send them to camp!

Here are the top 5 reasons you should send your kids to summer camp:

1. Kids grow in independence at camp.

Every parent has anxiety when they leave their child on the first day of school. Leaving your child at camp may be no different – but your kids will grow leaps and bounds spending a week away from home. In a new environment, kids get to take risks and test their abilities in a supportive and safe place. They grow confidence in taking on challenges on their own. As much as you may cringe and worry, it’s worth it for your kids, and maybe for you too.

2. Kids make new friends at camp.

Kids not only make new friends at camp, they also learn how to relate to others who are different from them in very close proximity. They learn how to work through conflict with others in their cabin, they learn how to encourage others in overcoming challenges like swimming. Let’s be honest, we all wish we learned those skills when we were younger!

3. Kids develop leadership skills at camp.

From learning to clean up a tent, to lining up to use the shower, to leading a silly song – these are the beginnings of leadership that can grow and mature over time. Kids can learn about taking responsibility for their belongings and for each other on a canoe trip. Camp develops leadership skills that will be useful in school and in the workplace as kids grow older. By sending your kids to camp, you are giving them ‘a leg-up’, so to speak, for their future.

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4. Kids get outside and get active at camp.

Camp offers a wide variety of activities for campers to try, sometimes for the first time. Horse-back riding, canoeing, mountain-biking are just a few of the fun sports that kids can learn in a safe environment under the watchful eye of a skilled instructor. Instead of sitting with their electronic devices, kids can run around, get some fresh air, and develop healthy lifestyle habits.

5. Kids learn about themselves at camp.

With the help of older counselors and mentors, kids learn a lot about themselves. Their self-awareness grows as they have new experiences and are helped to reflect and look within. Camp is a safe environment for kids to learn to express their emotions and become sensitive to the feelings of others; camp gives kids space to grow their emotional intelligence.

Wherever you are in the country, be sure to check out these links to the Inter-Varsity camps where we still have space this summer and get your kids registered for camp:

Pioneer Pacific Camp (Thetis Island, British Columbia)

Alberta Pioneer Camp (Sundre and Rocky Mountain House, Alberta)

Halkirk Circle Square Ranch (Halkirk, Alberta)

Wolf Creek Circle Square Ranch (Wolf Creek, Saskatchewan)

Austin Circle Square Ranch (Austin, Manitoba)

Manitoba Pioneer Camp (Shoal Lake, Manitoba)

Arden Circle Square Ranch (Arden, Ontario)

Brantford Circle Square Ranch (Brantford, Ontario)

Ontario Pioneer Camp (Port Sydney, Ontario)

Have you signed your kids up for camp this summer? What’s YOUR top reason for sending them to summer camp? Share with us!