A front-row seat

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February 22, 2017 | Focus on camping | Volume 21 Issue 5
Curtis Wiens, Special to Canadian Mennonite

A highlight of each summer at the Shekinah Retreat Centre near Waldheim, Sask., is the coffee house during our senior-teen camp for ages 15 to 18. Campers come out of their shell and display talents that we didn’t know they had. It is a special time of vulnerability.

Coffee House 2016 was highlighted by a cover of “Village” by Cam—sung by our outgoing camp director, Katie Wiebe. The emotional performance was underscored by the relevance of the chorus that resonated very strongly with campers who have been mentored and inspired by Katie over her eight years as counsellor and director at Shekinah: “Your whole heart’s a village / everyone you love has built it / I’ve been working there myself / And that’s where I’ll be with a front row seat / to watch you live your life well.”

Listening to her sing these words, those in the room were able to reflect on the image of their own heart as a village and the ones we love who have been building that village. At camp, important cornerstones of that village are laid because the staff have a love for the campers that comes from Jesus and is increased through a positive feedback loop of encouragement, learning, prayer and bonding as we experience camp together.

As a fellow staff member, I knew Katie had been working on building my village over the years, and I experienced a flood of emotions as her words sent scenes of camp over the years running through my mind. As camp staff members, our villages may be started, built on or completely overhauled as we commit ourselves and our summers to building the camp community and sharing the love of Jesus with campers.

What follows is a gift as we witness the fruits of the camp “village-building” grow out of our shared experience. As camp staff, we are privileged with a front-row seat to watch campers and fellow staff live their lives well in their interactions with one another at camp and as they go from this place into their lives for the rest of the year.

I hope that by doing this work, we can move towards the goals of summer camp at Shekinah: to engage a heart, inspire a mind, transform a life and influence the world.

Other Focus on Camping stories:
Camp farm program invites delight in God’s creation
‘So supported’
The beauty in difference
I can’t wait for summer’
Peace Camp 2016 was a huge success!
A special faith-based community
Silver Lake takes steps to deepen faith formation

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