Good morning! For those of you who don’t know, my name is Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe. I have spent the past 12 summers of my life at Camps with Meaning, 5 of those years being on staff. This summer I worked as the nature instructor at Camp Assiniboia. Put simply, being the nature instructor meant I had the privilege of working outside all day, teaching kids about God’s creation, mentoring staff, and helping run general camp programming with the rest of the leadership team.
Throughout the summer I got to experience, alongside campers, the bountiful gift that is God’s creation. I got to share in the joy of a camper holding a small, fluffy rabbit for the first time. I witnessed children’s shouts of glee as they unearthed not one, not two, but five potatoes from one plant! I saw gentle hands working in the dirt as we planted seeds together. I was reminded of how vital creation care is, as I taught campers how to compost and care for a garden, and I glimpsed hope as campers excitedly shared with me stories of their gardens at home. I saw peace in the evening sun shining through the trees and deer leaping across the path. It was a summer of delighting in and sharing the beauty, peace, and hope of God’s creation.
But I was also reminded that creation can be wild, terrifying, and awesome. On the hottest day of the whole summer, near the end of July, Camp Assiniboia was put under a tornado warning. Previous to this, all 70 junior campers had been spread across the floor of the main lodge, pretending to be starfish. This was an effort to stay as cool as possible, but was a hilarious sight to see. When it was announced that we had to move to basements for safety precautions, people started getting nervous; tornado drills are not needed very often at Camp Assiniboia. Almost as soon as we got inside, it really started storming. But I was amazed at how our staff handled the situation. They started to lead silly songs, creating a distraction and a positive environment. When the power went out and through the window shone a startlingly green sky, the songs evolved into ones of prayer and hope. Counsellors comforted their distressed campers. And then, before we did anything else, before we made any plan, we as staff gathered together, hand in hand, to pray.
Although an almost-tornado was a nerve-wracking experience that none of us wished to encounter, it highlighted what camp is at its core: a wonderful community of support for both staff and campers, where faith is at the forefront and experienced in a very real way. Camp is an incredibly important ministry that keeps the church alive for many young people. I feel blessed to have experienced both the storms and the calm, and be part of this circle of God’s people.