Spring break comes and students are home from school. What are parents to do to keep them occupied?
Crossroads Community Church of Chilliwack, a Mennonite Church B.C. congregation, has the answer: a week-long day camp.
Fun in the Son (FITS), a community service program for youngsters in Kindergarten through Grade 6, has been going for at least 12 years. Pastor Rob Ayer brought the idea from his previous pastorate in Guelph, Ont. The Crossroads congregation regularly worships at Vedder Middle School, where FITS is also held.
This year’s program ran from March 19 to 22 with a “medieval adventures” theme. Morning and afternoon programs engaged 91 children in interactive lessons, gym activities and off-campus events. Reece Friesen, associate pastor of Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, used his graphic novel artwork to teach lessons based on “the armour of God.”
Although organizers are upfront with parents that it is church-based, they don’t actively proselytize. The focus is more on promoting solid morals and values.
Activities this year included skating, hockey, gymnastics, swimming and a trampoline park. On the last day, the children went to Camp Charis for rope climbing, wall-climbing, archery and s’mores. Participants and their parents were invited to Crossroads’ worship service on March 25 for a wrap-up, which included a video and slide show of the week’s activities and a fellowship time with refreshments.
FITS depends on volunteers to operate the program, and, according to Greg Duerksen, director of youth ministry, the program never has trouble finding enough people. Church members—in particular, young people who have gone through the program themselves—are happy to volunteer. “This is really good discipleship training for your youth leaders,” says Duerksen. “There’s a good core of youth who like coming back so much, they say, ‘We do this every year; can we do this again?’ ”
Duerksen believes FITS provides a primary contact for people in the community to get acquainted with the congregation in a non-threatening way. Children are so excited about the program, they want to come back and bring their parents. Parents in the community will tell him, “My kids have come for the last several years, they are comfortable with you. We know what you’re all about.”