It seems like every day, we wake up to a new headline that shows how broken our world is. This is the world that our younger generation is growing up in and many are struggling like never before. Christian camps such as Camp Qwanoes on Vancouver Island offer children and youth a chance to escape from the everyday to the perfect setting to discover how life is really meant to be.
Here are a few stories from Qwanoes that show what happens when children and youth come to a place where they discover, live, and share life like no other – life with Christ:
A girl at a Jr. High camp said that her only relatives are her dad and a grandma. Her dad has told her that he doesn’t want her to be part of his new family’s life, so she is with her grandma and her grandma’s partner – who is not her grandpa. After listening to the speaker in Q-Town (chapel), she said, “Now I understand why my family is the way it is… If my family wanted me, I wouldn’t need God.”
Amy came to camp with an abundance of anger. She had attempted suicide quite a few times and was bitter at everything and everyone. After realizing Qwanoes was a safe place, she spent an hour crying and sharing about her pain. She wanted to get rid of the hurt and start living for God. The next morning started her new outlook on her life. She began closing doors to her past and forgiving people. She let God forgive her and the weight lifted from her and she left camp leaving all of her baggage behind. The harshness about her was gone, and her true spirit of gentleness and joy was shining through!
One counselor shared that the previous year at Youth Camp (for ages 15-18), he had a camper who was supposed to be in jail instead of at camp. A judge had let him get out of jail early if he came to camp. He came back to Qwanoes again this year and the change in this boy is amazing. He told his counselor that since last year at camp, he has stayed out of trouble and is really excited to be back at camp!
At camp, children and youth discover hope. Thousands of life-changing decisions, including thousands of first-time decisions to follow Christ, have been made at camp in recent years. While campers meet new friends and try out exciting activities like zipping over the ocean or bouncing on a water trampoline or running through the forest playing laser tag, they also encounter the truth that they matter and are loved unconditionally.
~ Written by Julie Bayley, Qwanoes’ Associate Program Director
Tracking the activity of God can be frustrating. How does one consider God’s ‘activities’? He changes hearts and lives, they say. In camping ministry this is something often asked and desired, ‘What did God do this summer?’ Wow, how does one answer that question given God is invisible, invariably quiet and doesn’t operate on my time table?
I mean, we pray a lot; we ask Him to help us with ALL kinds of things! ‘Please bring me more cabin leaders!’ I might plead. Or ‘Help me know what to say to this hurting camper.’ We read our Bibles, sing our songs and we tell them the stories of Jesus. But what is GOD doing?
I find God’s work to be more subtly powerful than anything I do at camp. When speaking to staff and campers, they will describe all kinds of circumstances wherein they felt God speak or His love move them in some life-changing way. His still, small voice might break into their hearts during a speaker session or a walk in the woods or paddling the ocean. Who can say when God will choose to speak and how?
Our best guess is to trust God is at work, to love each other well and to allow room for Jesus to share what He needs to, when He wants, which could be at any point … or not at all while they’re with you! Give room for God and He’ll make room for the hearts in your keeping.
Green Bay Bible Camp has been situated on the shore of the beautiful Okanagan Lake since 1954. A gorgeous waterfront, incredible gymnasium, and a beautiful lodge are not the only things that set us apart. Green Bay is committed to excellence in every aspect. We have games, activities, and events that you won’t find anywhere else, meals that break free from the classification of ‘camp food’, and customer service that seems impossible. Greater than all of these perks however, is that this camp is established and rooted in prayer and scripture. Our leaders are trained to serve, love, and encourage as Jesus did and still does. At the heart of Green Bay Bible Camp is a simple passion – to invest in and unify families as they draw closer to Jesus. Our 11 acres of sun-kissed property is your family’s oasis of calm, fun, and adventure where we hope you’ll be transformed by the beauty of creation and the reality of God’s love. No matter your age, background, or circumstances there’s something here for you.
In the spring of 2016 Ukraine Today reported “life in the war zone is far from peaceful.” In fact, many have been killed and over a million displaced. UCCF workers visit the area to deliver food and clothing to people still living there. During these visits, the workers also have meetings where they sing songs and share Bible stories of God’s love. Tatiana, one of the UCCF leaders, writes, “The little boy beside me wore dirty clothes and his face was not clean either, but he made sure my arm was always around him.” In addition to this vital work, UCCF personnel also organizes summer camps for pre-teens, teens and foster families, as well as Daily Vacation Bible Schools in villages. And, of course, the workers are very busy over Christmas and New Year’s season organizing special outreach programs. Won’t you join us as we support these activities so crucial to spreading the love of Jesus to the people of Ukraine? email. email@example.com
The power of the high five
We know the feeling. The butterflies driving down the road to camp, the fingers pressed up against the window looking out to see the lake, or the sweaty palms clenched tightly as they leave their parents for their first time at summer camp.
Whether this is the first or fourth time going to camp, we want every camper to experience real relationships and real love that will follow them home into real life. Every detail is thought out, articulated and dreamt up to create a place that is safe, fun and full of God’s love – down to every single High Five.
Personally, I didn’t learn how to high five until a few years ago. You see, a high five is so much more than a simple gesture. It is a rapid way of communicating to a person that they are important, loved and welcomed.
Something happens when you high five another person. Endorphins are released, trust is formed and memories are made. We here at Camp Luther believe in the power of the high five and our desire is that each camper feels like Camp Luther is their personal home away from home.
Our staff are some of the best and take every opportunity to make an impact in a camper’s life. Through chapels, time at the waterfront, team-bonding games, hilarious songs, adventurous archery, campfires and so much more – your camper will experience life in a truly unforgettable way.
The power of the high five knows no barriers. We are dedicated to sharing the love of Jesus through every single high five we make this summer.
Our vision is that every person who walks onto our camp will know they have worth and value.
We seek to engage the grand vision of God’s fierce love shaping the GOOD and the BEAUTIFUL world he intended. Redemption flowing in every place, and in every heart.
We seek to enjoy the gift of creation in a context of people hearing their worth and value every day, through teaching God’s word, experiencing the vibrant faith of those who serve them, and through the lightness and joy of the camp experience.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!
So, we continue to seek to be a caring place for fun and adventure for every kid that God brings along, while also remaining accessible to children and youth from lower-income families.
Our Inner City family camps and our single moms’ camps are an absolute joy. Our camp becomes a place of laughter and exuberance. A place for families experiencing the intensity of daily life, who need a place to be rested and belong.
We also introduced an amazing internship program this year for young adults called the ‘Forma Project.’ We literally witness God reshaping the lives of these ‘gap-year’ students, pursuing a depth of relationship with Jesus that is forming them for engagement in the world.
So, whether you’re canoeing on a calm sea, walking a trail, or cliff-jumping off the point, you’re taking a deep breath and finding abundant life on the journey towards Jesus.
This is our fearless path, Come join us!
Children and Youth are our most precious resource. At Shining Stars Camp Can-Do we treasure, prepare, mentor and create a dynamic learning environment for staff and campers. They work together to enhance their physical, emotional and spiritual welfare. This allows them to strive, thrive and use their potential and gifts to enrich our communities. Nicky 12 and Michael 14 shared that their favorite memories of camp were independent cooking, building and designing simple toys into complex structures. Michael further added that the “teachings about God shaped him and fellow campers into a better person and the Bible holds many phrases of wisdom.” Many campers challenge themselves in hiking Mount Frosty Trail at Manning Park and biking long distances through rough terrain as well as in and outside the city. They rave about their sense of risk and accomplishments. They also engage intellectually attempting their best in Math, Science and English projects. The holistic nature of our camp emphasizes Jesus’ mandate to nurture and empower children and youth to unleash their hidden gifts and character. The theme for this summer is Shine Your Light. Excitement builds as they explore the science of light, shine their light with those in need in the community, canoe lakes, triathalon, creating a community garden, learning about other cultures by experiencing ethnic foods, language and making meaningful connections. There is still the sense of awe when a camper or group of campers realize that their capabilities have risen beyond their previously perceived abilities. After all, we are Camp Can-Do and we believe your kids are Can Doers. We look forward to meeting them.
The young girl, probably about 10 years old, pulling a rolling suitcase and clutching a bag, walked down the sidewalk from the parking lot towards her cabin at The Firs Retreat Center. Just up ahead kids from her church had already gathered on the sports court and were shooting hoops, riding Razor scooters, and throwing frisbees. “Oh, I’ve missed this place!” she said softly to herself as she passed near me. She headed directly to the sports court passing the cabin her family was busily transferring belongings into. Since her church visits our grounds yearly, her comments were likely based on the memory of previous visits playing games, riding tubes and paddle-boating at the waterfront, s’mores around the campfire, and participating in age-graded bible studies and crafts during the adult programs. I hear this sort of thing regularly. Earlier in the day, a young adult leader from a youth group that was just loading up the buses after a five-day retreat, grabbed me to tell what a great time he had at The Firs and that he would be returning in a week with another group from the same church. “I can’t wait to get back to The Firs,” he said. The best comment I heard was from a retreat leader who shared that one of the members of their group, a relatively new attendee of their church, had made a decision to become a follower of Jesus the previous night. Our goal at The Firs is to provide a great environment, comfortable accommodations, wonderful food, and attentive service, so that the adult, family and youth retreat leaders, who bring their groups to The Firs, can concentrate on ministry. Our payoff is in hearing about the way God has moved in the lives of those who attend as a result of just a few days, in some cases, of concentrated ministry and relationship-building. Come join us! The Firs would love to host your retreat! We would be happy to send you a planning packet to assist you designing a retreat that will not only be a highlight of your church’s year, but will reap eternal rewards for God’s kingdom.
I really dislike change. Don’t get me wrong, I also get excited for it and understand the importance of it, but the anxiety it causes me registers on the Richter Scale. Every time I recognize the need for change I have a little mini meltdown as I implement the first steps that will bring about the stress-driven mood swings my wife loves so much.
However, Stillwood is in the midst of some significant changes that, so far, have not resulted in anxiety-induced insomnia. Harry Edwards, our executive director who has faithfully served Stillwood for the last two decades, has retired. Harry led us through significant growth and development that saw our summer camper numbers nearly triple, and the addition or renovation of roughly 30 buildings. The definition of Stillwood is incomplete without the inclusion of Harry’s name. We are grateful for the work of the Spirit that has manifested through Harry.
As of April 2, David Seeley is our new executive director. He brings with him a fresh perspective and passion that we are eager to see in action. When such an event takes place, the ripples will no doubt last a while yet. A little part of me is bracing for the years of change that will surely follow, but the vast majority of myself is waiting in anticipation to see the ways that God challenges, stretches and grows Stillwood.
Our desire will always be to see the lost saved and the found developed. The fact that we use creation and relationship to inspire new and renewed faith with Christ will never change. How that will look for Stillwood in the coming years are changes that I will run to with open arms and a little bit of coffee. Maybe a lot of coffee. And chocolate.
Stephen Jackson, Program Director