One month ago the Coldwater Canada Summer Team was up at Camp Norland. We were fully immersed in our final wilderness programs of the summer. The camp property was looking amazing, and every one of our team members was owning their role. Service Team, made up of ten youth/young adults from Ontario and Romania, was in some of their most formative days during their two-month leadership journey. Days were being cherished, and our ministry was seeing fruit.
Now skip ahead to present day….
We have packed up camp and moved the five hours back south to Cambridge, ON, where Coldwater makes our home for the rest of the year. Our participants, staff, volunteers and summer team are all back to their schools and jobs. Personally, I have gone from leading a team of twenty to spending my days in the office by myself, getting in the rhythm of normal work hours. As I sit here, I cannot help but think back and celebrate the impact and growth that came out of three months of formative ministry.
NUTS & BOLTS
Our summer kicked off with a very buggy June wilderness trip for our staff team in Temagami. If you followed our Facebook page, you will remember hearing Logan’s hope not to “fall out of a canoe!” Following the trip we moved up to Camp Norland (Verner, ON) and spent the remainder of June readying the property, training staff and prepping for programs.
On Canada Day, we were joined by Service Team, and we sent them out right away on a weeklong wilderness trip, with some additional wilderness programs running at the same time. They returned and jumped into a week of leading VBS during the day followed by training sessions at night. VBS was led by Kipling Baptist Church, our home church in the summer, which is only a short canoe ride across Deer Lake. We were blessed with the opportunity to lead worship almost every Sunday this summer at Kipling, which was a highlight!
July wrapped up with two back-to-back weeks of BEDROCK, which drew many young people primarily from Sudbury and North Bay, but even as far away as Quebec! Our volunteers were a tremendous answer to prayer and provided key support for two very full weeks. BEDROCK 2017 was a success, with kids becoming open to faith, and some even making the decision to follow Jesus! Hats off to Emily, our staff member who did a great job coordinating this program!
Summer Team enjoyed a few days off at the beginning of August, before stepping into another full month of programs and ministry. We ran the majority of our wilderness trips in August, one of the best months for tripping in Ontario. Service Team, who remained at camp, changed gears. We focused on equipping and empowering the Service Team leaders to love, serve and lead well when they went back home after the summer.
Throughout the summer, a normal day might have looked like the following: breakfast at 7:30, morning thought (devotional) at 8:30, work day starting at 9:00, lunch at 12:00, fitness hour from 4:30-5:30, supper at 6:00, then the evening. Mornings and afternoons consisted of scheduled Leader-to-Leader training sessions, group work projects, prep for student teachings, and working on individual projects/camp responsibilities. In the evenings, if we didn’t have a program to plan for, our team would usually work on a reading or leadership assignment, have a teaching session, or enjoy the Coldwater sauna!
For morning thoughts we focused on the theme of “Identity in Christ” and we taught from the Who Am I? devotional put out by Arrow Leadership. Check our Who Am I? here: https://store.arrowleadership.org/?product=who-am-i
Projects this summer consisted of brush clearing, rebuilding the bunks in the guy’s cabin, wood chipping, pizza oven maintenance, beach restoration, moving gravel, and more wood chipping. Volunteer teams helped us build a shelter over the pizza oven and a deck on Vesper’s Rock. Thank you Alton Reformed Church Team!
Numbers do not tell the entire story, but they can show growth and help in setting goals. In summer of 2016 Coldwater Canada had finished with our highest participant numbers yet, capping out at 135. For 2017, we set the goal of reaching 250. As the summer is now complete, we are excited to announce that we did meet our goal and were able to serve 252 participants!
As we were tracking our participants, 65 joined one of our two BEDROCK Adventure Camps, 150 came through programs we ran for partner organizations, and 37 signed up for one of our core open enrollment wilderness programs (CAIRN, GRIDIRON, COMPASS or Service Team).
A huge blessing of the summer was the opportunity to partner with other organizations through leading wilderness leadership programs. For a third year in a row, we were able to serve Countryside/Camp Shalom out of Cambridge, ON. We also got to partner with Forest Cliff Camp leading two eight-day wilderness trips as a part of their LiTE leadership experience for high school students. At the beginning of both July and August, we sent staff to Algonquin Provincial Park to provide leadership during Muskoka Woods’ CEO Leadership Out-Trip, which kicked off a month long leadership program for high school students from around the world. We also facilitated one-day experiences for two organizations local to our basecamp; Young Learner’s Academy out of Sturgeon Falls, ON and Issachar Christian Academy out of North Bay, ON. Finally, our Service Team was able to provide leadership during Kipling Baptist Church’s VBS program for local kids out of West Nipissing, ON.
We were blessed by almost 40 different volunteers who made time out of their busy summer to serve with us. Our volunteers drove vans, prepared food, completed building projects, washed countless dishes, and taught BEDROCK kids how to fish and build birdhouses. Our volunteers read stories to BEDROCK participants and were a part of leading kids to Christ. They took a personal interest in our Summer Team and made the extra effort to make them feel important, capable and special. Thanks to all who came and served as volunteers with Coldwater this summer!
A personal highlight of the summer was the opportunity to invest in our Summer Team, made up of staff, wilderness instructors, interns, and Service Team. Our team was 21 people strong and came from Ontario, Alberta, Alabama, Missouri, South Carolina, North Carolina and Romania. Many arrived feeling cautious, shy, reserved, hurt, doubtful, and in need of a community. Yet something happened during their experience, and they left for home feeling motivated, with a strengthened and deepened faith in Jesus, and with the belief that they are the leaders of today, not just tomorrow.
I think God does some of His most significant work on people when they are actually serving and leading, and this was shown this summer. With our programs, we get 5-9 days to impact people. With this team, we had 2-3 months! This team carried significant responsibility when up at camp. They prepared meals for guests and participants. They cared for the property and program equipment. They planned and led programs. They engaged in leadership training. They led worship every Sunday at a local church. They took ownership of their growth and held each other accountable. They organized and led community service projects. If you were to set foot on the property in the summer, you would see confidence and focus in the eyes of the team members. You would see that they had an expectation for themselves; an expectation and a standard born out of commitment, responsibility and empowerment. They were not just “the youth” or “the young adults”. They were young leaders. Period. What would it look like if we gave them the same opportunities to serve, make actual decisions, own the outcome, and lead in our churches and communities?
As I have connected with people, many have said how hard it must be to prepare for summer and then just have it end. Normally they are right. But as I sit here and reflect on Summer 2017, I see and feel a new momentum growing for Coldwater Canada, flowing out of an incredibly blessed and successful summer. Read more about how we plan to carry this momentum forward in our upcoming blog, Looking Forward to Fall!