Family Camp 2014!
By Angella Dykstra
SBC hosted its first Family Camp at Green Bay Bible Camp in West Kelowna five years ago (Back when it was called Westbank!) and we've attended as a family every year. Matthew is the Director of Children and Families, so it is a work weekend for him, but we do get to see him when he's not "on", and the kids look forward to Family Camp weeks before it actually happens. This, despite sleeping on bunks made of plywood and mattresses a half-inch thick. Oh, to be young and full of wonder (and bones not prone to aching).
The basic structure of Family Camp has been the same since its inception: Arrive after dinner, get your envelope of instructions, your lanyards with your name on them, and your lodge/cabin/campsite assignment. There is breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, and you're free to go at 1:00 on Sunday. There are campfires on Friday and Saturday night, with songs for the little kids and us big kids. There are planned activities, and increasingly over the past five years, less planned activities and more "free time."
The first year was pretty structured, because that's what we do at church. We plan and we get organized and we lay out a schedule. After the first year at Family Camp, it became apparent that while this was still our church family, it was not regular church. Sunday mornings (and every other day, really) are so busy and hurried and scheduled, that those who came to Family Camp wanted less scheduling. They wanted more family time (Church family time, for the most part), and less time being sheep led to the slaughter planned activities.
The planned activities eased back, which allowed for more time to sit for an hour after breakfast drinking coffee with friends and getting caught up on life. It allowed for time to sit on the beach after lunch, talking some more, while watching our kids jump off of the docks and being pulled on tubes behind boats, and paddle boarding around the inner harbour. It allowed time for morning walks (And runs!) with friends, for sitting after dinner to talk even more, and for our husbands to play pranks on each other.
The biggest change this year was to not hire an outside speaker, but to instead focus on sharing our stories. Stories are so powerful, and they form an instant connection with those who hear them. They may think "me too" or "I had no idea" or "How can I help you?" I am a story teller, and I am someone who hears better when someone tells a story than when someone shares knowledge.
Three people told their stories in front of our church family over the weekend, and I got more out of those stories than I would out of a year of sermons. I heard even more stories while sipping coffee after a meal, and sitting on the beach, and running along the waterfront. Stories come from the heart, and all of the stories I heard this weekend filled my heart to the brim.
(This is where I confess that I didn't want to go to Family Camp because of all that is going on in our lives, but going to Family Camp is exactly what I -- we -- needed.)
Here's to Family Camp 2015!
Photo credit: Angella Dykstra