The news that overnight camps would not be running this summer left many people devastated. This was a feeling shared by Heritage students Ethan Skinner and Julia Martin.
When they heard that their camp – Camp Widjiitiwin – would not operate normally this summer due to the pandemic, it was a challenge. Which was why the news that camp would continue in a different format was not only great news, but also something they were excited to be a part of.
Camp Widjiitiwin, like other overnight camps, will be hosting Camp in a Box – a special program that seeks to bring the joy of a week at camp to campers’ homes across Ontario. Now, after working hard to prepare this unique camp experience, Martin and Skinner are currently part of leading this special program.
For Martin, the excitement for being a part of Camp in a Box comes from a heart for the impact camp ministry has had on her own life and the hearts and lives of campers she has connected with at Widjiitiwin.
She explains that, for her, God has used her time as a camper and now a leader to push her into a deeper trust in Him.
“I believe that camp has increased my passion for ministry and when I am able to see the countless miracles He has done at this camp, my love for Him strengthens as well as my confidence in knowing that he is a good God,” says Martin. “Every summer I come back and there are always campers I can see God working in and there is no other explanation than Jesus’ grace in those times.”
In Skinner’s life, he looks back and sees his own experiences at camp as formative – providing him with deep friendships, a stronger relationship with God and a passion to serve in ministry. However, he says that it is also what He does in the lives of campers each summer that continues to be a testimony to the power of God.
“Last summer we saw fifty campers make personal decisions to turn and trust Christ and over 100 Bibles go out,” says Skinner. “It is the place where I’ve seen God use the camp pastors, the cabin leaders, and even myself to preach and live out the gospel before campers.”
Now, both are playing important roles in bringing the joy and hope of camp through this new program that will allow campers to experience Widjiitiwin from where they live through a special online platform and boxes filled with items from the camp. For Martin and Skinner and the rest of the team, this has involved doing everything from packing boxes with games, activities, and tuck candies to filming and preparing content for the online camp portal.
Though it is strange to be preparing for a summer of camp in this way, both would say that their time at Heritage has prepared them to trust God and that He will work in and through camp – even if it is experienced in a different way.
“One of the most important lessons that Heritage has taught me in preparation for serving in camp ministry is how God is able to work all things for the good of those who love Him,” explains Skinner. “That although ministry may not be what is expected or the normal, that God is able to take this new reality and work it for good.”
As both Skinner and Martin begin their ministry this summer with Widjiitiwin, their prayer is that God will make the most of this opportunity and continue to impact lives with the hope of the gospel through this camp experience.
“Our mission is to let each camper know how important and loved they are in the eyes of God, and that as we strive to impact each camper’s life that they will make a difference in their families as well,” says Martin.
Learn more about Camp in a Box at mycamp.ca/campinabox.