I look over our yard after the week of camp, after 24 kids have biked and ran over every square inch of it, and I feel so…well…happy—somewhat giddy even. Every bit of the yard is completely flattened—a clear indication of just how much fun was had in this week of camp!
Our campers ranged from 6—6 years of age, which on the surface seems like it just shouldn’t work. But it does work, and in a way that is beautiful to watch. Kids seem to embrace the family atmosphere, the diversity, that they have older kids to look up to and younger kids to look out for.
This year there were 7 newcomers to Canada sponsored to come to the camp. These are children coming from war-torn parts of Africa, primarily arriving in Canada out of refugee situations. Most have faced tremendous loss and trauma before arriving in a new country to face the daunting challenge of adjusting to a completely foreign culture and learning a new language.
The camp provides the opportunity for these campers to spend a week outside of their apartments in Winnipeg’s downtown core, playing outside, trying new things, learning skills, gaining confidence, laughing and building friendships.
One little six year old boy, an immigrant from Africa, had never ridden a bike before, but he was determined to learn. We pulled the very smallest bike we had out of the rafters of our garage. He started on training wheels, but that meant he could go WAY too fast, proving to be a bit of a hazard to himself and to anyone in his path. So we took the training wheels off the bike, and every day he made progress. By Friday, he was riding on the trails and showing off how he could ride holding on with only one hand! Maybe we shouldn’t have shown him those biking DVDs of riders chucking it off dirt jumps and doing tricks in the air!
We started every morning with a small group discussion time, talking about the Great Big Love of God—what it can mean to live in that and to live out of that. It was delightful to hear the conversation in the small groups, with the youngest to the oldest talking and sharing.
Lunch was a highlight every day—yes, lunch! Starting somewhere around 10:30, the kids would start asking, “When’s lunch?” At this camp, we really celebrate food, and there was much fun to be had at lunch! We’d say a prayer, and then the trading began. You could hear the bargains being struck, the laughter in it all. Kids started to catch on and bring extra food for the trading—a home baked cookie goes a long way in this game.
The Silly Stories time saw kids in outrageous costumes, providing great hilarity. This time included Davis and Cale at their finest (you’ll have to see the pictures for this!)
And during the skills and games times, it was lovely to see the pride the kids had in their individual accomplishments. We always encourage them to challenge themselves, to see what they can do, and not to compare that to someone else.
On two afternoons, we loaded up 32 bikes and took the whole group to Birds Hill Park to ride the trails there. We divided into groups, working to have everyone on a ride we thought they could do, and could have fun doing. And did they ever work hard and go for it! We felt so proud of every one of them in their determination and positive attitude.
Thank you to Gilbert Berg who drove the van three days, and who jumped in and helped out—he’s a good shot in a water fight! To Francine Wiebe for being our contact person and connection to the sponsorship kids—thank you. And to Kayla Drudge, who volunteered for the whole week and chased that little guy around the driveway loop over and over again while he was on training wheels—thank you.
To the st. ben’s community—thank you for your prayers, for your support of our family in this camp endeavor, and for contributing to sponsorships for kids.
To each camper who came—thank you! At the start of the week, we tell the kids that we can do all the planning and work and preparation, but we can’t MAKE it a great week. It is all of us together who make the week amazing—and how true it is. Thank you for your enthusiasm, for how you poured yourself into it.
Check out the slideshow and enjoy a little taste of camp!