It's 7:45 am, rise and shine campers! Okay, so those of us on the PR team were not at Pine Lake Camp that early but we did arrive just as bible study was finishing up and “options” was starting. Options happens twice a day as the kids are divided into groups to participate in climbing, low ropes, arts and crafts, mini golf, or canoeing. So that is where we joined in.
We got to talk to a number of kids. Whether first time or returning campers, they all talked about how fun camp is. They couldn’t help but smile while talking about it and several commented that if they were at home this week they would probably be hanging out indoors or watching TV. We saw grit and determination as campers took their turn on the climbing wall, followed by either the elation of reaching the top or the frustration of their bodies giving out on them before they got there. Over on the low ropes course, there was concentration and teamwork. Canoeing paired experience with inexperience and dares to jump out of the boat. There were celebrations and consolations. And then there was the pure freedom and fun of swimming, seemingly everyone’s favourite activity!
We also got to see the camp leaders and counsellors in action. They REALLY care about these kids. They want them to have the best experience possible. They are encouraging and supportive. They are a wonderful blend of frivolity and structure. Some are former campers themselves. They are role models, buddies, and confidants for the kids.
Captain Ian Gillingham, Divisional Youth Secretary, shared stories of campers who wished that they didn’t have to go home at the end of the week, the escape that camp provides for kids dealing with difficult family situations, campers and counsellors for whom camp is a second home, and campers arriving to ask about a counsellor from prior years who they had really connected with.
We wish we could have stayed longer to witness a couple of other camp traditions. After supper each night is “walk the plank”. As a staff member you best make sure your gear does not end up in the lost and found. If it does, you have to walk the plank fully clothed into the swimming pool in order to get it back. On this day, Captain Ian had left his phone behind and would have to walk the plank! Evenings also bring campfire, and who doesn’t enjoy sitting around the fire!
Camp has a huge impact on the self-esteem, life skill, social, emotional and spiritual development of a child. We were blessed and privileged to get to share in it for a day.