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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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.

What should I do with my life?

Kingdom Calling

By Susanna Muntz, Central Field Director for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and the Director of Kingdom Calling

It’s like learning to play the guitar. Some people learn to play one song and memorize it, but that’s the only song they will ever play. But other people learn chords and can play many more songs; they know how to improvise with the tools they have.

From December 27 to 31 this year, students from across Canada will gather in Toronto to learn how to use their skills, aptitudes and education for the sake of God’s Kingdom.  They’ll be attending an annual conference called  Kingdom Calling designed specifically by Inter-Varsity to help third and fourth year students and recent graduates discern what God would have them do with their lives.

The goal of Kingdom Calling is to inspire students to stake their lives on the fact that God is true and to imagine what it would be like to live faithfully in radical communities. Participants will hear stories about people who make lots of money but tithe much of it to the urban poor. They’ll meet people who have moved into diverse neighbourhoods and formed cross-cultural relationships for the sake of the gospel. They’ll learn from people who have re-imagined their lives to the extent they’ve left home and family for a whole new country and culture.

Kingdom Calling instructs and guides participants in the process of discernment. The end of university or college is a critical time in students’ lives — they are making big decisions that will affect their life’s trajectory. Kingdom Calling gives them space to reflect on how they have heard from God in the past, and helps them think biblically about discerning God’s will for the future.

Participants will consider specific invitations at this conference as they spend time in conversation with people who are serving God in diverse ways in the marketplace, neighbourhoods, local church and around the world.

The conference gives space for imagining, or as I like to call it, “imagine-planning”. As participants imagine what their life might look like, they will start to think of plans to make and the community they need around them for discernment and prayer.

Inter-Varsity staff are committed to helping students learn how to hear from God. We want to help them feel confident in the skills that God has given them; to be free and creative in whatever context they find themselves after they leave university.

Inter-Varsity is committed to launching leaders who practice discernment, live fruitful lives and value life in community. It’s not so much about getting the one right answer about what to do after graduation, but about creating space to pay attention to the path of faithfulness.

It’s like learning to play the guitar. The more chords you learn, the more songs you can play.

For more information about Kingdom Calling or to register for the conference, visit http://www.ivcf.ca/KingdomCalling

That’s a great question

Have you ever really just hated life?

What do you think is completely overrated?

What were some of your struggles in high school?

These questions were posed recently by high school girls attending one of our summer camps. Invited to ask any question, the girls responded.  Some of their questions were cheeky, some ironic, some deeply serious.

Continue to the Transfusing Life blog to read more from Geri Rodman, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship’s president, on engaging questions with young people.

Transfusing Life is a platform for members of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Youth and Young Adult Ministry Roundtable to share insights about the Hemorrhaging Faith report – Why and When Canadian Young Adults are Leaving, Staying & Returning tot he Church. 

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!