This past Saturday, the staff from this summer had the opportunity to gather at the Wainfleet Brethren In Christ Church for a one-day retreat called Refresh which allowed for a whole bunch of stuff that I rather unfortunately didn’t get to take part in. I was home sick. But being the crafty blogger that I am, I’d like to introduce our very first guest blogger, Alyssa Cober. Here’s her account of what went down on Saturday.
I have to admit, I feel completely honoured to have been asked by Laura to guest blog on the Camp blog. Like many of you, I have thoroughly enjoyed keeping up with what went on at camp this past summer through Laura’s posts. I do not have the literary flair or attention to details that Laura has, but I do have a passion for Kahquah that I hope to share with you through this blog.
As honoured as I am to be writing here, I am even more honoured to have attended Refresh this weekend. Refresh was a one day retreat for members of Crew, LIT, and Staff from this past summer to reconnect with one another and be blessed by a day of worship, study, and fellowship. I was in the unique position of only having been a member of staff for Zenith (the grand-finale to summer programming), so I did not have the same close-knit relationships that all the staff who spent many weeks of the summer together would have with each other. However, I did know many of these incredible people from previous summers when I served alongside them, or as they were campers growing up, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day getting to know them more.
I knew the day was going to be a special one as soon as I walked down the stairs to the basement of Wainfleet BIC Church and could not get into the hallway because of a mob of young people meeting us with the hugs and squeals that usually occur when teenagers who love each other and haven’t seen each other in months reconnect. The morning started off with worship from Pete Bergen from Harvest Bible Chapel in London, and key note speaker Rick Zuidersman (youth pastor at Faith Tabernacle in Welland). Rick started the day off by challenging us to find our identity and our rest in our relationship with Christ (there was more good stuff, but for the sake of my word count I’ll leave it at that – if you want to know more find someone who was there and ask them).
After our morning session we had a special time of prayer. We split into small groups and shared the highlights of our time since camp, as well as a need we have. The sharing was awesome, but after the sharing we took the time to pray specifically for each individual and what they had shared. The opportunity to pray directly into each others’ lives is always going to be a special moment, but the courage that was shown through everyone’s willingness to share at such a genuine and vulnerable level showed how much these youth value their relationships with one another, and the incredible support that they get out of those relationships.
In the afternoon, we again split up for a small group session. This time we did boys and girls. The girls got the benefit of hearing Liz Bonisteel and Laura Droppert share their personal journeys of struggling to surrender the dreams they held closest to their heart in order to allow God’s will to unfold in their lives. Some of their desires were fulfilled, while others remained unfulfilled. It was clear that despite their life circumstances, the only way to experience genuine satisfaction is through the act of surrender, and that the main desire of our heart should always be to seek after God’s heart and love Him with all our heart.
The boys session, labelled ‘Every Man’s Battle,’ will have to remain somewhat of a mystery, as all I know are some undecipherable inside jokes being shared between the boys in my vehicle on the way home. I have learned when my brother and his friends have inside jokes, it is better if I don’t ask about it. However, since Frank led the session, I’m sure it impacted these young mens’ lives in ways beyond just inside jokes.
The official activities of the days ended with another powerful session of worship and an encouraging message from Rick clarifying the differences between conviction and condemnation, and how we should let each of them impact our lives. It all came together to end on the beautiful note of reminding us of how Christianity is not a set of rules to abide by, but a God to live for – which in my opinion is the perfect refocus for a refreshing day!
When we left, it was obvious by the smiles on everyone’s faces and the lingering around in order to try and avoid the inevitable goodbyes that everyone had thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I’m sure many people enjoyed the opportunity to worship freely with those they know share their beliefs and their love for God. I’m sure others appreciated the opportunity to be encouraged by their leaders to continue on the path marked before them. I am confident that everyone loved the chance to spend a full day together again. What I enjoyed the most from this day though is something quite different. Having come to the realization that my time of spending my entire summers at camp has come to an end, it was so encouraging to see that those serving and leading at camp now have such an incredible passion to serve God, an unbelievable love for one another and an admirable dedication to the ministry of Camp Kahquah. I wish I had the words to describe all the little moments of passionate worship, genuine prayer, constant laughter, or just pure love that occurred throughout this day.
If I can leave you with one thing, well two to be honest, it would be these.
First — Camp Kahquah is in great hands. From the adult leadership of Frank, Nancy, Chris, and Sherri who guide our staff, to the wonderful staff themselves who are willing to spend many weeks of their summer to allow these life changing programs at camp to occur – these individuals genuinely love God and love camp and will serve in many ways that we will never know, and because of that we are blessed!
The second thing I want to leave you with is a challenge to return that blessing to these same people. Find them, get to know them, and see their awesomeness for yourself. Your blessings might come through the act of mentoring, or they could come through prayers that they’ll never know you said, or maybe even financial support through the Staff Support program. Let them know how special they are and how thankful we are for all they do for our kids, for our families, for our camp! Whatever way you can find to bless these staff, do it. These blessings will only continue to multiply, creating an impact that will extend so much further than we will ever know.
If any of you staff are reading this, know that I love you, and thank you for letting me spend the day being blessed by you. Keep up the great work, and let your identity in Christ lead you to do even more wonderful things!
And I have babbled on long enough, so I will hand this blog back to Laura now. Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas season!
Back to Laura: Thanks so much to Alyssa for her contribution in my inability to write about something I didn’t experience.
Oh, and a big thanks to Sherri Oldham for snapping pics and letting me snag some from Facebook 😀