“I learned to pray, to reflect, and to experience God in nature.”
Camp is more than a holiday. It gives young people skills that last a lifetime.
Kathleen is a special education teacher, a busy mom of three children under the age of five, and a youth and young adults coordinator at her church. She says her early summer church camp experience continues to impact her approach to each of these important roles.
“Camp taught me that children are precious and we’re there to help them and guide them. Vespers taught me to take a deep breath in times of stress. Chaplains showed me how to bring out the best in children and draw out their talents. All those things I learned from camp I now apply to my everyday world, including motherhood,” says Kathleen.
Kathleen grew up in very formal churches where she felt she had to be perfect all the time. Outdoors, in an informal setting, her faith blossomed.
“I never felt really connected to God before going to camp. It opened up my perspective of what church is. My relationship with God expanded. I learned to pray, to reflect, and to experience God in nature.”
Those early lessons continue to ground Kathleen in trying moments.
“Today, because I learned to connect with God in nature, I can take time to reflect and I can show God’s love. When I’m too stressed, I can take a quick look at a bird or tree and remember that God is with me when a student is expressing their frustration. Staying calm and showing God’s love is huge. It goes a long way. I remind my own children that God is with them, even in the hardest times too,” she says.
Before COVID, approximately 20,000 children attended a United Church camp every year. During the pandemic, many camps provided virtual support to young people during lockdown.
“I just want to say a huge thank you to Mission & Service donors for their support of camps,” says Kathleen. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for their support. Thank you.”
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