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Nicolien’s Camp Reflections

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.

Quinn Snider’s Middle East Reflection

Hi, For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Quinn Snider. As some of you may know I was previously in the Middle East on a study tour with Westgate Mennonite Collegiate. I was asked to share a certain memory or experience that happened to me while I was there. Though I have so many, a couple stick out in particular.

One other of my school mates and I were billeted with an older christian couple that lived in Beit Sahour, a small town near Bethlehem located in Palestine. Right next to their house was their son and their three grandchildren all under the age of 10. You can imagine they kept them busy and certainly us busy that night to, wanting us to play soccer, to take  them for ice cream, or telling us about how good their english was. They seemed like such a tight knit family and their grandparents would do anything for them.

Some of you may not know but the Israeli’s determine how much water they get and when they get it, but the Palestinians never know when they will get more. The water is collected on the tops of their houses in large black containers. But despite all of this the first thing they offered us was a shower. This just blew me away because they don’t know themselves how much water they have or when more will come but they are willing to let both of us use it in spite of that. For me it just took hospitality to a whole other level. We didn’t end up showering however they did insist many times.

Another billeting experience we had was staying with the Mar Elisas students for two nights in and around Ibillin. They got a chance to come to Canada for a week and a half in September and stayed with us and now we got a chance to stay with them. They were so nice to us and their families greeted us with smiles and lots of food. We went and swam in the Mediterranean and also toured around Haifa, sharing laughs and making memories. I wish it could have been longer but overall it was an unforgettable experience getting to witness their culture first hand.

This trip for me was very eye opening and if I were to get the chance to go again I would take it in a heart beat. I met tons of new people and connected with others I didn’t know as well. I am very thankful to have gotten this opportunity, and will remember it forever.