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!

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!

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)

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!