Many people have experienced the life long benefits of camp ministry and the experience of being a camp counselor. Yet, these days many dioceses struggle to sustain their own stand-alone camp facilities. One diocese in Canada has sought to develop a new program that offers the benefits of camp ministry to campers and counselors without the cost of sending kids away to camp. The Diocese of Fredericton’s ‘Camp on the Road’ has three aims: bring a unique ministry program to parishes; bring camp to kids who may not be able to go to camp; and give the teenage leaders-in-training (LITs) and staff a unique, hands-on learning experience outside of camp.
Featured in the diocesan eNews, Camp on the Road was piloted this summer in a rural parish in Gagetown, New Brunswick.
“Camp On The Road has completed its first week, and director Maren McLean-Persaud is happy to report the objectives have been met. “The growth I’ve seen in them alone is amazing,” she said of the LITs. “Every night I see something different in them.” The program trains prospective camp counsellors, then sends them out to operate vacation bible school to apply the skills they’ve learned at camp. There are two groups of LITs at camp this summer.
During the week of July 11-15, two LIT directors and four LITs visited the Parish of Gagetown. For four days, they operated a vacation bible school for 22 local children aged 6-12, with the help of a dozen parish volunteers. Both Maren and [her husband,] Christian were in and out all week, making sure this pilot project was going smoothly, but they need not have worried. “The young people came and helped us set up, and the kids have really responded to them,” said Margie Cruickshank, the local VBS co-ordinator. “It’s been a great team. We’re so happy to have them! God has blessed us in so many ways.”
“It’s been going very well and the energy is high,” said LIT director Allyson Caldwell.
“This has exceeded my expectations. I was nervous the first day and the LITs were nervous, but they’ve really stepped up.”
In this case the counselors also worked on traditional camp programs, but it seems as though they could just as easily have been trained and housed remotely as well. It will be interesting to see how this particular program grows and copes with expanding its work further and further from the camp facility. What innovative ways have you seen camp ministry approached? How else could the benefits of camp ministry be offered outside of the traditional mid-20th century model?
all photos by Gisele McKnight, communications officer for the Diocese of Fredericton