We Are Camp, a recent publication of the United Church of Canada, describes the church’s current campaign to raise awareness of camping in its sixty-five camps across the country. In spring 2009, a post card campaign invited campers to fill in the blank “What I love most about camp is________.” By September, Nora Sanders, General Secretary of the General Council, received 3,667 postcards from campers of all ages. The responses confirm the benefits of all camps. I love the activities, making new friends, the welcoming and safe atmosphere, singing around a campfire, camp food and experiencing the acceptance and freedom to be myself. Camp encourages the kid in adults and responsibility in youth. At camp I met the most influential people in my life. Some recognized the spiritual benefits of Christian camping: I appreciated the spiritual guidance the camp gave and lives. Camp was the start of my journey to become a minister. At the August 2009 General Council 40 at Kelowna, BC, a resolution was carried to “recognize camping ministries as one of the primary places for faith formation, and as a priority for the church.”
Church camp leaders Maya Landell and Bill Stevens identify how camp develops leaders. The value of camp leadership training becomes apparent as young people acquire a set of transferable leadership and life skills that are valuable regardless of their chosen profession. They experience creative leadership: the freedom to think outside the box and make crazy ideas come to life; humble leadership: becoming less selfish and learning that you are not the centre of the universe; community leadership: respect and care for each other no matter how different we are; program flexibility: the ability to adapt as a leader depending on the weather or needs of the campers – putting campers first over “the plan”; conflict resolution: receiving feedback from supervisors to resolve an issue, confronting others when needed, or mediating a resolution of issues between others; discipline: the skill of showing up and performing every day and mentoring: learning from those who have been leading for a longer time. It is not surprising that the current Moderator, Mardi Tindal and the last Moderator, David Giuliano, were both campers at Camp Big Canoe in Ontario.
Jeanie Oulton, camp chaplain at Camp Quin-Mo-Lac, describes the camp environment to which we all should aspire. The past isn’t allowed to own the present or rob a child of laughter and joy. When you cross the threshold of camp, you get to leave the stuff that is not so good behind. You don’t have to worry about being bullied because that is not allowed. You are not called names or excluded. You have cabinmates who become new best buddies. This community wants you and will accept you. This is a place that teaches that things are possible and joy is unreserved. Each individual is treated as special.
In conclusion, the booklet offers a long list of suggestions of how camps can raise awareness in their local community.
We Are Camp 24 page booklet available online at ucrdstore.ca.
$6.95 plus taxes and shipping