By Grace Harding, MPC seasonal staff
This year marks my eighth year at Manitoba Pioneer Camp and my fourth year as staff. The island has always been a place where I have thrived. Each year that I have spent at camp has helped me develop new skills, learn new things about myself, and develop my Faith. Camp offers me the opportunity to set aside time to work on my relationship with God, which is something I look forward to each time I come back. Throughout the school year, it is easy to get caught up in the stress and responsibilities that come along with everyday life. This summer especially, camp helped me to slow down and work on growing my faith.
After a full year without campers, we were able to run a day camp in the city this summer. Overall, the weeks we spent reconnecting with our campers were filled with learning, fun and new friendships, however, it also came with its challenges.
The second week of camp, one of our campers was having a difficult summer, which was often reflected in their mood and temper. At first, I found myself frustrated with them; a feeling which was amplified by the exhaustion that accompanies working at a summer camp. Instead of letting my frustrations get the better of me, I looked to God for assistance and strength. In times of weakness, it is easy to forget the support that God can provide. Throughout the week, I made an extra effort to bond with the camper. God teaches us to demonstrate kindness and show compassion towards all, and I wanted to show the camper that they would be accepted and embraced by God regardless of the troubles they were experiencing. At first, I had felt guilty for my internal frustrations towards the camper, however, by the end of the week, I realized that my initial anger was what I needed at that moment to lead me back to my Faith for guidance. Both the camper and I matured that week, and by the end, I felt as though we had made significant progress in our relationship with God.
Reconnecting with the camp community this summer reminded me how much we all have to learn from one another. In August, a group of younger staff and I went out to the island for a work week, focused on building new relationships with each other and building on our Faith. Every day that week, highly knowledgeable members of our community led Bible studies for us in small groups. Analyzing Bible verses and discussing my perspectives with my peers helped me rethink some of the opinions that I previously had. The leader of our bible study reminded us that as we read, we should focus less on “who we are” in a bible story and focus more on what we must learn from each person’s story and from their experience. This has widened my lens and changed the way I read scripture. As I read, I have found it increasingly easier to find meaning in the verses I study.
As we studied the Gospel of Luke, I gained a better understanding of how the Bible can help guide us through everyday life. Our discussion on the Three Parables has become increasingly relevant to me now that I have started university. In moments where I have caught myself becoming envious of my peers, I have been focusing on practicing gratitude for what I have rather than resenting others who have what I don’t. I have been working on celebrating small accomplishments, as it is one of the most helpful motivational strategies that God has provided for us. Finally, I try to remind myself that in moments when I feel as though I have strayed from my faith, I am still worthy of God’s love, and he will welcome me back with open arms.
Without camp, I don’t think I would be where I am in my faith today. The supportive environment of camp is exactly what I needed to focus on self-improvement. I am looking forward to continuing my journey of finding myself through my faith and helping to deliver the good news of the gospel to all of our campers in the future.