What a week! As I sit in the airport waiting for a flight out of Calgary, I thought it would be nice to take a few minutes to reflect on the CCI/Canada National Conference, and am simply amazed at God’s faithfulness.
Why would a bunch of different camps get together? For camp staff, National Conference is our version of camp. Just like Junior Girls or Junior Boys, we look forward all year for the chance to be with our peers and to share our stories, struggles and learning. Just like the first day of camp at Beacon, there were big smiles and hugs as people were arriving at the airport on Monday. There were more hugs and promises to stay in touch this afternoon as we all headed off for home or vacation: it turns out that December is the month off for a lot of camps across Canada!
Some of the big highlights for me were the sense of renewal and refreshing that comes from being ministered to. Ken Shigematsu, a pastor from Tenth Church in Vancouver, taught the morning sessions, and encouraged us to stay strong in our focus on our ministry. The worship times were powerful - 350 people singing their hearts out to God in adoration. I can only wonder what the people at the ATM conference next door must have been thinking! Dash, Brûlée and I also had the chance to be together and talk about how the various things we were learning relate to Beacon. Dash is sitting next to me right now madly planning a revamp of our Staff Weekend in May - my sneaking a peek at her notes says it’s going to be a blast!
All that being said, a conference is also a lot of hard work. Most camp professionals are in ministry because we’re incredibly passionate about helping our young people reach their God-given potential, and there’s no better time to learn than when you’re with those who have gone before and done what you’re trying to do. I attended sessions on authenticity at camp, promoting better communication between campers and staff and how to support young people in our “post-truth” world, to name a few. I’ve got more than a couple of pages filled in my notebook of plans and thoughts!
CCI stands for Christian Camping International - the global movement of camps focused on glorifying God. Last night, we had the privilege of hearing from Mark Heasman, the international director of CCI/Worldwide. He shared stories with us of Christian camps starting Korea, India, and Nepal. I’m encouraged by the international flavour that camping is taking: I am a firm believer that camp is one of the best places for a young person to have an authentic connection with the Lord Jesus, and I want that for all young people, no matter where they live. (To be honest, it gives me big dreams for having Beacon’s campers/staff serving internationally - but that’s another blog post!)
I’m happy to say that this year has been another big winner for our camp staff in terms of learning, refreshment and encouragement to make Beacon the best camp it can be. I’m hoping that next summer at camp you’ll find a few little surprises that make you say “Kodiak, did you learn this at CCI?”, to which I’ll be able to reply... YES!