How My Faith Came Alive at Camp
Volunteer at Pioneer Camp Manitoba
This year marks my eighth year at Pioneer Camp Manitoba and my fourth year as summer staff. The island, where the camp is located, has always been a place where I have thrived. Each year that I have spent at camp has helped me develop new skills, learn new things about myself, and develop my faith.
Camp is a place where I set aside time to work on my relationship with God, something I look forward to each time I come back. Throughout the school year, it is easy to get caught up in the stress and responsibilities that come along with everyday life. This summer, especially, camp helped me to slow down and work on growing my faith.
COVID restrictions meant we couldn’t host campers on the island this summer so we held day camp in the city. Still, our time with campers was filled with learning, fun and new friendships. It also came with its challenges.
A Difficult Camper
The second week of camp, one of our campers was having a difficult time, often reflected in their mood and temper. At first, I found myself frustrated with them, a feeling amplified by the exhaustion that accompanies working at a summer camp. Instead of letting my frustrations get the better of me, I looked to God for assistance and strength.
In times of weakness, it is easy to forget the support that God can provide. Throughout the week, I made an extra effort to bond with the camper. God teaches us to demonstrate kindness and show compassion towards all, and I wanted to show the camper they were accepted and embraced by God, regardless of their troubles.
At first, I felt guilty for my internal frustrations towards the camper. However, by the end of the week, I realized that my initial anger was what led me to seek God for guidance. Both the camper and I matured that week, and by the end, I felt as though we had each made significant progress in our relationship with God.
Strength in Community
Reconnecting with the camp community this summer reminded me how much we all have to learn from one another. In August, a group of younger staff and I went out to the island for a work week. But we weren’t only doing practical tasks, we also focused on building new relationships with each other and God.
Every day that week, members of our community led Bible studies for us in small groups. Analyzing Bible verses and discussing my perspectives with my peers helped me rethink some of my previous opinions. Our Bible study leader reminded us that as we read, we should focus less on “who we are” in the story, and focus more on what we have to learn from each person’s story and from their experience. This has widened my lens and changed the way I read scripture. As I read, I have found it increasingly easier to find meaning in the verses I study.
As we studied the Gospel of Luke, I gained a better understanding of how the Bible can help guide us through everyday life. Our discussion on the Three Parables has become increasingly relevant to me now that I have started university.
In moments where I have caught myself becoming envious of my peers, I have been focusing on practicing gratitude for what I have rather than resenting others who have what I don’t. I have been working on celebrating small accomplishments, as it is one of the most helpful motivational strategies that God has provided for us. Finally, I try to remind myself that in moments when I feel as though I have strayed from my faith, I am still worthy of God’s love, and he will welcome me back with open arms.
Without camp, I don’t think I would be where I am in my faith today. The supportive environment of camp is exactly what I needed to focus on self-improvement. I am looking forward to continuing my journey of finding myself through my faith, and helping to deliver the Gospel to all of our campers in the future.
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