by Matt Wilkinson
In one way or another, it seems since birth I have been connected to summer camps. My first birthday at Muskoka Woods with dad as the director. I was a camper at Camp Mini-Yo-We, Ontario Pioneer Camp and Teen Ranch, and then went on to do LIT and then serving on summer staff as a cabin leader, LIT leader and part of the LIT teaching team. Then, back in November I accepted the role as acting Executive Director for Camp Kwasind, which has brought me all the way back around into the camp community.
It seems that camp is in my blood. Why give my life to being part of the camp community?
1. Camp is a place where you make lasting friendships that shape your future. It is no surprise that in a place where you are sharing living quarters, eating together, creating memories every day, getting into God’s Word with others asking the same questions, and laughing a whole lot that you naturally create strong bonds of friendship.
2. Very few places in this world give a young person the high level of responsibility you get when you serve at camp. Taking on such significant roles at camp taught me leadership, responsibility, servanthood, budgeting, listening, decision-making and problem solving. When I look around for some of the greatest ministry leaders in our country, so many of them have a camp background. It is getting leadership opportunities early that gives you a head start on life opportunities.
3. I could never afford to have my own sail boat, get enough friends together to regularly play Ultimate Frisbee, have such adventures that we have me running through the woods looking for a flag, go down a huge zipline, explore the bottom of a lake, learn how to canoe, go on an overnight where I had to cook for myself, or have someone a little older than me that I can talk with and relate to, who really cares about me. Camp is a time where you get to experience things you might never get to experience otherwise.
4. Life gets so busy that we miss out taking a time to reflect on how amazing life is. Camp is a chance to unplug, to appreciate a world created that isn’t all made of concrete, to see stars at night, to leap into lake water, see wildlife and chase frogs. Camps have great programs but they are a nice break from the routine of life to both appreciate what you have back home but also getting to appreciation for all creation in this amazing world.
5. Camp is a place that changes lives. I have seen young people gain confidence when they accomplish something new, friendship formed with campers who felt alone, a smile appear on a hurting kids face when they are cheered for, a kid give a hug because someone older than them listened to their story, a teen choose to follow Jesus because they had a leader who lived out the love and grace of Jesus to him.
I give my life to camp because it might just be the best way to change the world!