Hope and Fun Found at Summer Camp
By Tim Partridge
Welcome to Countryside Camp and Conference Centre, the summer home of Camp Shalom!
For over 45 years, staff have been welcoming summer campers to Camp Shalom. That tradition continues today in the farm regions of Cambridge, Ontario.
Camp Shalom is home not only to the children and youth from the RCA churches here in the Classis of Ontario but to many others as well. Camp Shalom is a beacon of hope to children in Canadian society who are lost and unloved, troubled and tempted, bullied and beaten. It serves a rapidly changing demographic of immigrant families from countries around the world. It cares for children and youth from churches across southern Ontario who are seeking an opportunity to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to better serve him. This past year, God’s blessings upon this ministry at Countryside have made Camp Shalom the largest residential summer camp program in southern Ontario that serves individuals with special needs.
How is it that we share the love of Christ with our campers and guests? It starts with having good camp counselors. After listening to their testimonies, we hire young women and men with a passion to grow spiritually and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, under the direction of our program director, Adrian Stelpstra, we assess and train our staff so they understand who they are in Christ, which enables them to serve more effectively. Finally, Adrian develops the curriculum and recruits chaplains to bring daily messages of salvation, hope, healing, and purpose. And God brings the increase!
Every year, campers and their parents rave about the experience. The parent of one of our campers, Daniel, shared this testimony:
My son talked of nothing but Camp Shalom for a week after he got home! It is the highlight of his summer. In his own words, “I really like playing the whole-camp games and doing cabin activities. I like the Bible studies and teach my little sister about God. The food is great. I’ve made new friends at camp and got along well with my counsellors. I’d like to go back next year!”
Daniel now attends church with his aunt and seems to sense the importance of God’s truth and how it is helpful for “real life.”
Camp Shalom serves around 600 summer campers each summer. We offer traditional overnight and day camp programs for children and youth in grades one to twelve, a four-week discipleship leadership program for older students, a wilderness leadership course with a nine-day canoe trip in Northern Ontario, and five sessions for campers between the ages of 10 and 80 with special needs.
At camp, smiles are our currency. It’s the currency of love, hope, and friendship. We are so blessed here at Camp Shalom as we continue to live out God’s kingdom here on earth!
Tim Partridge is managing director of Countryside Camp and Conference Centre in Cambridge, Ontario.
[Photo by Camp Shalom media staff]