This is a guest post from my oldest, Quinton, who just entered his first year at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC.
What I learned at Summer Camp: JOY!
Ontario Pioneer Camp (OPC) has been a huge part in my life for the last 6 years but especially over the last 3 years where I have been a Councillor.
I would argue that being a Councillor at camp is more fun than being a camper but it surely doesn’t come without it’s challenges. Sickness and challenging campers may come and go, but I assure you, the memories and friendships made at camp are ones that will last a lifetime.
(my brother Liam is in this video a lot!)
Plus, camp is my happy place. The message version of Luke 5:16 says, “as often as possible, Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.” Camp is my out-of-the-way place, my recharge centre, my well, so to speak. It’s the one time of year I get to escape the distractions and the busyness of life and focus on Jesus and show His love to campers, and just have fun.
I was only able to go up for two weeks this summer, which isn’t very long in camp time. But in those two weeks I learned exactly what I needed to learn from my campers and from my community at Boys’ Camp.
Ontario Pioneer Camp has a really cool program called the Special Needs Program which accepts kids with all varying special needs and allows them to experience camp like nowhere else. It is truly a unique inclusion program.
This summer I was assigned to a camper who had Cerebral Palsy. He was in a wheelchair and had very little motor skills. He was non-verbal due to a lack of brain development as an infant. Despite all of his limitations and seeming impairments, I am absolutely positive he taught me more about joy than any person, preacher or podcast ever could. Almost every moment we spent together was filled with smiles and laughter.
There is one moment in particular that stuck out to me and it was on the last day of the two-week session.
My cabin, or chalet as we call them at OPC, was playing a version of ‘hide and seek’ at Chapel Point, the peninsula on Clearwater Lake where we have Sunday services.
For context, Chapel Point is a solid 10-minute walk over bumpy dirt, uphill both ways, kinda path. It is absolutely one of the most beautiful places to worship and have a service.
We heading back for lunch and it started absolutely pouring! Going over this path while pushing a teenager in a wheelchair in the pouring rain could’ve been the worst experience and it could’ve very easily made me miserable.
If it weren’t for my camper who could not help but laugh hysterically as he got soaked while bumping up and down and swaying left and right. The whole frantic run back to Boys’ Camp he did not stop laughing and smiling.
This is true joy. Do you know why? Because despite his limitations and all the reasons he could be angry at his situation, angry at God, angry that he was getting soaked, that he was being bumped around in a wheelchair. He chose to be joyful.
Can you imagine not being able to walk or speak your entire life? And yet he laughed more than any camper I have ever had!
At camp this summer I learned was that when I thought I couldn’t – God reminded me that through Him I could. The session was one of the more challenging 2 weeks I’ve had at camp and yet at the same time they were two of the most rewarding. I got to make new friends, relearn how to be joyful and I had to learn to trust in God more than ever before.
More About Ontario Pioneer Camp
Ontario Pioneer Camp is an award-winning Christian summer camp located in beautiful Muskoka, Ontario, serving campers from ages five to 17. Campers are with us from one to four weeks, providing lots of opportunity for them to grow spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. Activities include swimming, high ropes, boating, rock climbing, mountain boarding, media & arts, and much more. With more than one staff for every three campers, we provide a highly personal camp experience. Age-appropriate Bible discussions and campfires provide safe places for discussions about faith and God. One of nine Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship camps across Canada, we’ve been welcoming campers for nearly 90 years. We love developing leaders!