Parting is such sweet sorrow

On Friday, one of our beloved staff members, Erin, had to leave and go home.  She’s off to get ready to start her first year of University, so she needed a little more time than usual to prepare, and she had to leave us early.

She’s never left during Family Camp before.

Typically, during Family Camp, if you’re looking for Erin, you’ll find her surrounded by a passel of children, and she never tires of them.  She has a spirit that loves children deeply, and wants to see the best for them.  She runs Bible studies with them, plays games with them, and leads them in skits and songs at each week’s talent show.

Going into our fourth week of Family Camp, she will be missed deeply, both by the kids she’s left behind, and the parents whose children love her deeply.  If she’s not directly with kids, you’d likely hear several kids going “where’s Erin!?  Have you seen Erin?”

I have never written a blog post before about the departure of a staff member, because as you can imagine, our staff come and go throughout the summer season.  But the reason I’m doing so now is because I thought it was a beautiful thing to watch how sad the children were that she was leaving.  I’ve never seen kids clamor after another of our staff members in quite the same way ~ well, I suppose not since the days of Krystle Todd.

As Erin tried to get into her Mom’s van yesterday afternoon, kids swarmed her, wrapped their arms around her waist, tugged at her arms, and begged her not to go.  They can’t imagine a Camp experience without Aunt Erin.  The impact she has on the lives of our Camp Kids is undeniable.

As her van pulled out of the driveway, a group of our staff and kids gathered on the shuffleboard courts to sing the kids’ camp departure song… “hey, hey, hey… goodbye.”

And then several kids ran up the driveway (at a safe distance) after the van, yelling “COME BACK!” and waving!

Erin, if you’re reading this, please know that you are loved deeply here and Camp would NEVER be the same without you!  So while we hope that you thoroughly enjoy your first year of University, we also hope that you remember that you need to come back to us!  If for no one else, for the sake of all those kids who love you!  Though we love you too 🙂

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A 3 hour tour

Well… it wasn’t really a three-hour tour, and we certainly didn’t get marooned on an island together, but on Monday evening, the Pontoon Boat was scheduled for a sunset cruise on Ahmic Lake.

Lynn took some time asking questions and getting information about some of the legends and sights on the lake, and planned a sunset cruise that Family Campers could sign up for and head out on.  Monday evening, although it had filled up quickly, only two people ended up able to go (maybe because earlier in the day the weather had not looked promising).  That opened the door for some of our staff to go who were there when Lynn found out that she was only taking two people on her cruise!

Sandy Martin (our head of hospitality), Natalie White (our program team leader), and I all hopped on the boat with Simon and Lori Miller, and set out on an adventure!

Lynn toured us around, showed us a few points of interest, and taught us things about the lake that I didn’t know!  I was really glad that I got this opportunity, because not only did I learn things, and get some spectacular sunset shots from the point where the Magnetawan River meets Ahmic Lake, but I got to get to know Simon and Lori a bit better as well, and isn’t that what Family Camp is all about?  Getting to know the people we spend our weeks with a bit better every time we come?  At least, that’s what I love about it.  IMG_7062 IMG_7063 IMG_7064 IMG_7065 IMG_7066 IMG_7067 IMG_7068 IMG_7069 IMG_7070 IMG_7071 IMG_7072 IMG_7073 IMG_7076 IMG_7077 IMG_7078

I really enjoyed the whole evening, and so I thought I’d share my sunset pictures with you!  If you’re a week 4 camper and you’re not here yet, perhaps these pictures will inspire you to keep an eye out on the lodge porch for the sign up sheet for the sunset cruise.

Dance with Me

Over the last week, Brittany Lester, who was here on Programming staff for the first week of Family Camp, followed some of our staff around and asked them to dance because she was making a staff dance video.  The song is set to “Shut up and dance” by Walk the Moon.

We want to give a huge thanks to Brittany and her creativity on this!  I know I don’t feature our staff very often, and many times they get stuck behind the scenes and don’t get ‘the spotlight’ as much as they should.

Here’s a chance for you to see some of our fantastic staff, including Uncle Ivan, bust a move and break it down.

I hope you enjoy this daily dose of silly, from us to you.

And does anyone know the answer to the final question?

Why does Kenny MacSweyn have to dance??

It’s Worth the Drive ~ a Kahquah Road Trip

How far would you drive for a great family vacation to spend it with people you love?  Would you pack up your RV and drive across the middle of this great, big country?

We have a family here who’s done just that.

This week, dear friends of Frank ~ our director ~ have spent two weeks on the road getting here to spend a week camping in rural Northern Ontario.  Frank’s friends Otto and Jamie, along with their two kids Sydney (5) and Benjamin (3) made the trek.  Jamie drove across the country with the kids while Otto flew out and was picked up in North Bay on Friday.  They’re here to reconnect, relax, and enjoy the sights our country has to offer.  They’ll all drive back together.

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This just goes to show that family definitely can run deeper than blood, just like I mentioned when I shared the 5-Generation-Mater story.  You can be with people who are such close friends that you consider them family, and even when you don’t see them that often, it’s like you were never apart.

In fact, we here at Kahquah have Otto to thank for having Frank as our director at all.  Frank credits his jump into Christian Camp ministry to God of course, but also to Otto, who asked Frank to go guest-teach for the CREW program at Camp Chestermere just outside of Calgary 23 years ago.  Jamie was the office manager at Chestermere for 10 years while Frank served as director there, and now even though they’re in very different places in life, they’re still good friends.

On Saturday after dinner, before the deluge of rain that was forecast for Sunday and into today, we took Otto and Jamie and the kids on a pontoon boat sunset cruise into Magnetawan for ice cream at the Snack Shack — a quintessential Magnetawan activity.  We walked out onto the lock and taught Sydney and Benjamin how a lock works (whether they understand or not being a different question, but they seemed interested).

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Frank also gets to enjoy “Grandpa moments” for the week, even though he has no grandkids of his own yet, as he got to walk hand in hand down the streets of Downtown Magnetawan with Benjamin and Sydney, and this morning Benjamin coloured a picture and gave it to him.

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Family isn’t just reserved for blood relations.  Some family you get to choose.  How far would you drive to spend time with dear friends?

Trying something different

Good morning, and welcome to Family Camp Week 1.  I’m so excited.  I love Family Camp.  It just feels like…. family.  And I don’t have a less cheesy way to describe it to you.  There are so many people here who I wouldn’t get a chance to see if I weren’t here, and it would make me very sad not to see them.

This week we’re privileged to have Pastor Paul Penelton with us, visiting from the booming metropolis of Frogmore, ON (population 75).  He’s the pastor at The Mission, formerly Houghton BIC.  He’s walking us through a series on the Five Love Languages, and we spent this morning learning about the importance of words.  We talked about words of encouragement and affirmation, and how the right words said sincerely can change a person’s view of themselves.  That’s certainly true for me, even though I know I wouldn’t consider words of affirmation my top love language.  I’ve certainly lived under the shadow of words that weren’t affirming, and have been repeatedly built up by the encouraging words of others as well.  Words are powerful.

I’m excited to see what he has for us when talking about the other four (quality time, physical touch, gifts, and acts of service).

 

I’d like to take the blog in a bit of a different direction this year during Family Camp.  During kids’ camp, I treat it as my personal mission to follow the kids around and report on what they’re doing so that you at home can read about it, see what they’re doing, learn what they’re learning, and peek in on them having fun.  But family camp is about vacation.  I think this blog can be better with more of an “I love to tell the story” feel to it instead of a “look at what this family did while on vacation” angle.  That said, please expect fewer pictures, and more stories, (and likely fewer posts overall) but I can’t do this alone.

If you have a story about how Camp has impacted you, changed your life, or just been an awesome moment in life for you, I’d love it if you’d share it with me so that I can share it with our blog readers.  Tomorrow’s blog will feature me telling you the things I’ve learned in my 20+ years at Camp in various roles ~ as a kids camper, a winter retreat camper, a family camper, and now as staff.  If you have something you want to share with us, even if it’s just a short memory or story, please email me at lwing330@gmail.com.  I’d love to tell the stories, and I see my role during family camp being more as an editor than as a reporter.  I’d love to compile your memories and share a love for Camp with all of our 1000+ subscribers.  Would you help me with that?

In the meantime, please check out a few pictures from the Family Quadathlon we had yesterday, as well as the dedication of the first completed of our 2 new chalets!  We prayed over them and thanked our VERY hardworking volunteers, who’ve just shown up when they were most needed to prepare these cabins for occupancy.  We thank the Lord for the faithfulness we’ve seen in the completion of these buildings so far, and we’re encouraged at the speed that the second one is going up ~ looking like it will be ready this week.  Praise the Lord!

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Also, if you head over to our Facebook page, you’ll see pictures that Frank posted of our very first Saturday Welcome Barbecue.  For no charge (though a donation bin is available), you and your family can sign up to join us for a barbecue when you arrive.  Wouldn’t that be great?  Even if you’re not part of the meal plan, you can set up without worrying about what to eat.  Just make sure if this is something you want to do, you let Nancy know in the office.  I believe the deadline to sign up for this coming Saturday’s barbecue is either today or tomorrow so that Heather is able to make sure she’s ordered enough food.  In these pictures, you can see featured our brand new picnic tables.  Jim and Kim Wideman took on the task of fundraising for these tables, knowing that some of the ones we had weren’t in great shape.  Kim went during the winter to Home Depot and got such a great deal on the cost of the picnic tables, that even by the time they’d been delivered to Camp, stained, and had the ‘in honour of’ or ‘in memory of’ plaques engraved and installed, we still raised enough money that the wash house now holds 4 washing machines and 3 dryers!  And there wasn’t a cent spent out of the Camp operating budget, but now there will be less wait time for a more efficient wash house!  Since I stay off site, I don’t use those laundry facilities, but I know many of you have been waiting for this for a LONG time!
Until next time!  (and please share your stories with me!)

I’ve Got a River of Life

This morning in Underground, right before Matt came to give his message, Laura did a song that was a request from Hope to finish off the Worship time.  “I’ve got a river of life.”  You’ve probably heard it.  And to do it Camp style, there are actions and sound effects that make it super catchy and hard to shake out of your head.  I’m not sure if Hope requested it knowing what Matt was about to speak on, or if it was a work of the Holy Spirit making things work together, but it was very fitting.

Matt started by asking the kids if there was anything great going on this week that they wanted to praise God for.  One camper said she ran 4.6 km this week!  One climbed the wall with the weighted backpack on, and yet another was excited because he got to run as fast as he wanted during the camp-wide games.

Matt then looked at John 4 with the kids ~ the story of the Samaritan Woman meeting Jesus at the Well.  Matt told the kids that he loves this passage because there are so many hidden things throughout the passage that if you’re looking for them can really shed more light on the topic, and I thought that was interesting.  Apparently “Easter Eggs” is a video game term, so I hadn’t heard it before, but it’s great that it can relate to some of our campers as well.

There are a few things about Jesus talking to the woman at the well that just ordinarily would not have happened in that time.  Jesus, a man, was talking to a woman.  But not only that, a Jewish man was talking to a Samaritan woman, and that just didn’t happen.  Jesus asks the woman at the well for a drink, and she comments that he has nothing to go get the water with.  He has no bucket, and no rope, which would have been common place in that time.  He tells her “if you knew who was asking for a drink, you would be asking ME for living water instead.”  Living Water would have meant different things to Jesus though than it did for the Samaritan Woman.  She would have interpreted that as clean, pure water that wasn’t standing still or sitting in a swamp.  It wouldn’t have been brackish or salty, and it would have tasted good.  Jesus meant it as the Holy Spirit coming to live within us.  The water Jesus was offering was a metaphor for being cleansed, refreshed, and given a new start by the Holy Spirit living within us.

It would give her Abundant Life!  Just like the song “River of Life.”

Spring up O well
Within my Soul
Spring up O Well
and make me whole
Spring up O Well
and give to me
That life abundantly

Jesus says “Whoever drinks this will become a spring of water welling up into eternal life.”  He also tells her that a time is coming where it won’t matter who she is, who anyone is, or where they are for them to Worship.  They’ll be able to praise God and Worship wherever they are.  For us, that means that at School, at Home, at Camp ~ wherever!  We can talk to God, pray, and praise Him for all He does for us.

She tells Jesus that she knows a Messiah is coming.  He blows her mind by telling her it’s Him.  She drops everything she had and runs into town, telling everyone she encounters to come and see a man who knew everything she had ever done.  Could this be the Christ?  Could this be the Messiah?  Many believed in Jesus because of her testimony, and then after coming to Jesus and hearing Him speak, even more believed because of who He was.

Why should this appeal to us?  God is not distant, and not far off.  He’s ever present, and knows us.  Knows all about us.  And yet still chooses to love us and chase after us.  It sure makes me smile!  The kids were sent to their small groups asked to think about and discuss why this should appeal to them, and why it would have appealed to the Samaritan woman.

Could it be for the same reason?

 

As yesterday was my day off, there were no pictures taken yesterday.  BUT since I didn’t write a blog yesterday, I have plenty of pictures leftover from Monday to share, so please enjoy your kids’ first day of Summit/Outdoor Pursuits!  The Outdoor Pursuits kids are headed across the road for a camp-out in the bush tonight.  I’ll try to make my way into the bush this afternoon to get some shots of them building their shelters and their fire, setting up their camp.

 

Here’s Hope, who sees me with a camera and yells “PUT ME IN THE BLOG!” So she’s in the blog with her sister this time 🙂

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Because these are Monday’s pictures, the Rock Climbing Major pictures are of the kids learning to tie their knots and properly secure their harnesses.  They would have spent their first day on the climbing wall yesterday, and will be headed up there again today.

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Gaga Ball has become a beloved Kahquah sport!

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The Outdoor Pursuits kids caught a few fish first thing Monday morning, and they wanted to show off their catch.  I didn’t want to get anywhere near the fish, but I suppose that’s why I never would have signed up for an outdoorsy type camp!  These kids look like they’re very much enjoying showing off their catch!

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The kayaking majors had to start Monday morning by learning the proper way to complete their strokes so that once they were out in the water, they knew how to steer.  The best way to teach those skills is to try them out on land first, so that you know what you’re doing before you get into a boat.  Here’s Kenny instructing on proper stroke technique.  He was teaching the C Stroke here.

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At the Beach, there’s always sand buildings, and kids playing in the water.  With the addition of the older kids though, it’s nice to see friends just relaxing on the beach, and one even drawing while she chats with her friends.

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At Crafts, kids spent some time making bracelets.  The Craft activity in the afternoon was to sew on a felt owl and monster appliqué to a burlap bag with darning needles.  The girls were all getting the hang of it quite nicely, and I’m sure some of your kids will have nifty craft creations to bring home with them.

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At Beauty Inside and Out, they focused on hair on Monday.  This activity goes through a devotional, helping girls to see what God really thinks of them and to discover their inner beauty, and then they do hair, makeup, nails, and other fun beauty activities to go along with it.  I’m supposed to assure you that the pot is there to amplify the sound of the worship music coming from Brooklyn’s phone.  At first I thought maybe Taylor wasn’t feeling well, but I was assured that that’s not the case.  Apparently if you put the phone in a pot, the sound comes out much louder!

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At Water Sports, even though it was the first day, many of these kids have been here in years prior, so they know a lot of the skills they need to be successful without spending their whole first day learning skills on the dock.  The second group managed to spend most of the activity period in the water, which is great!

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At Boot Camp, kids who are interested in fitness are going through a week of fitness activities.  It’s likely that the girl who was thrilled that she ran 4.6 km was part of the group!  Here they are running up the stairs and hill toward the lodge with all their might!  Good for them!

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Here we have a couple of girls at Archery.

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At Rock Climbing, there were only two participants signed up, which would be great for them!  It means they don’t have to take turns or wait, they can just keep climbing.  Paige scales quickly to the top.  I remember her from last year and how speedy she is on the wall.  She rapidly made her way to the top, scaled down, and then asked for the weighted backpack.  Ben also made it to the top quite happily 🙂

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At Low Ropes, here we can see kids working together and supporting each other, as well as patiently waiting while the others finished up the activity.  Since I arrived near the end of the period, a few of the girls were already finished.  But they seemed to be enjoying getting to know each other better while they hung out on the tire swings.

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Cupcake Decorating, Photography, and SO MUCH MORE!

Good morning, friends!  Today’s my day off, so I wrote this last night before I went to bed and have run off to find an internet connection this morning where the only work I will do all day is upload the pictures and hit publish.  Because I’m off, I’m not sitting in my office listening to Underground while I write, so unfortunately I can’t tell you what your kids are learning.

I do, however, have plenty of awesome pictures for you, so please enjoy those and you’ll be back to your regularly scheduled programming on Wednesday 🙂

Before I show you yesterday’s pictures, I wanted to show you briefly this one picture I snagged at our staff party on Saturday.  Frank and Natalie combined efforts to plan something for the staff that was truly special.  I know I felt appreciated, and I’m positive that the rest of us did, too.  We had homemade, barbecued hamburgers, and popsicles!  We got to eat outside at picnic tables, and the grassy knoll area was decorated with balloons and streamers.  Then, after dinner, some picnic games had been organized… which led to this awesome shot of a relay trying to fill up the jar on someone’s forehead using a sponge!

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At Lunch yesterday, Erin and Judd were called out to run around the tables.  It was great!  I always love it when siblings get to have fun like that!

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Aunt Shelley is doing crafts this week and next, and decided that to switch things up from previous years, she’d offer cupcake decorating for today and today only!  It was a hit, and boy did those creations look delicious!  I love how happy Annika looks in these pictures, complete with icing all over her face…

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I caught sight of the Algonquin Park Canoe Trip kids getting ready to leave on their trip (they’re likely gone as you’re reading this, because there’s no way I woke up early enough to post this before they left… I can predict that much of the future for sure!)  They’ve been preparing and training since they arrived on Sunday and I hope they have a great time!

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I caught our own canoers as well!

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And our Kayakers!

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Monday is always a day for skills training in some of our major activities.  The rock climbing wall is no exception.  Kids needed to learn how to tie their knots and properly secure their harnesses before they could be sent to the wall.  Here they are, learning to tie their figure-8 knots.

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The Beach was a very popular place yesterday!

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I caught the photography kids, and while these pictures may be a little posed, I still think it’s great to have the photographers taking pictures of the camp photographer.

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At water sports, the first day is also always spent learning on dry land (mostly), and kids need to learn the proper technique for fastening helmets, holding onto ropes, pulling themselves up, and fastening knee board straps before there’s any point in getting behind the boat.  They also need to know all the proper signals so that they can ride safely.

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At Beauty from the Inside Out, I found our girls doing hair and talking about nails, but they had just finished doing a devotion as well.

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The Paddle Boarders looked like they enjoyed a nice calm, warm, sunny day!  I know I would have enjoyed being on a board out there yesterday!  It was gorgeous!

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The Drama kids, led by Aunt Erin who is a great choice for a Drama activity, were nothing but giggles as they learned a couple of skits.  I’m sorry the pictures are mostly blurry, but the kids just wouldn’t hold still!  I was working on things in my office and could hear them practicing in the Underground.  All I heard was laughter through their lines, so I’m sure they had great fun!

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And lastly, I finally made it to a campfire!  I’m sorry these pictures are so dark… they were taken with my iPhone, not my camera, and, well… it’s just not the same.  The pictures you see are of counsellors trying to knock over plastic cups wearing panty hose on their heads with… I’m pretty sure… a tennis ball in the end.  It looked like it would have taken coordination that I just do not have.  Better them than me, I guess!

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Well, until Wednesday!