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Conestoga Bible Camp celebrates end of 45th season

by Caroline Sealey

MAPLETON - With fall approaching, the summer camping season is coming to a close at local campgrounds.

The staff at Conestoga Bible Camp, having completed the 2017 summer program, are already planning the 2018 season.

Forty five years ago, John Martin had a vision of a summer day camp that provided a fun and enriching experience for local children.

In 1972, Martin found five acres of land on Conestogo Lake near Hollen, set up tents, added volunteers and his vision became a reality.

Conestoga Bible Camp has grown and is now a registered Canadian charity, hosting four, two-week sessions of day camps and an overnight youth camp.

During a typical summer, the site hosts more than 1,200 campers. The facility welcomes church and small group retreats during the remainder of the year. New to the camp is a short-term discipleship training program for youths.

Camp Director Terry Ruegg is in charge of camp operations year round. A board of directors governs Conestoga Bible Camp and many volunteers assist throughout the year with programs, maintenance and as kitchen staff.

Each summer 100 individuals are hired to run the summer programs.

Financial donations from individuals, churches and community organizations help subsidize registration rates.

The two-week day camps are suited to children aged 7 to 14. Session one, the first two weeks in July, provides an opportunity for children in the Kitchener, Waterloo area to attend the camp. Children from the Wallenstein area attend Session 2, which runs the last two weeks in July.

Session 3 takes place during the first two weeks in August and encompasses the Floradale-Woolwich area.  

From Aug. 14 to 25 this year campers in the Drayton, Alma, Moorefield, Rothsay and Palmerston areas took part in activities during Session 4.

Bus transportation to and from the camp is provided, with pick up points in the areas served. Upon arrival at the camp, children gather at the amphitheatre.

The day’s schedule is comprised of team games, chapel, Bible lessons and interest activities, until departure at 4:30pm

 Children can participate in sporting activities that include fishing, archery, canoeing, kayaking, baseball, mini golf and swimming lessons. Non-sporting activities include outdoor cooking, arts and crafts, guitar, survival skills, comics and cartoon creation, drama, dance and wood crafts.

Youth Camp is a week-long overnight camp held during the last week of August, for high school aged campers. The schedule for the week includes games, worship, teaching time, sports and free time. With access to Conestogo Lake, sports offered include water skiing, wake boarding, swimming, canoeing, and water polo. The camp is able to accommodate 55 to 60 youths.

Assistant director Zack Barriage began his journey with the camp at the age of nine. He then moved into the counsellor role and was a part of the pastoral team before becoming assistant director.

 “I loved being a camper and have grown in my faith over the years. The camp has taught me things that I would never learn in a church,” Barriage said.

“Each one of these campers is impacted during their two weeks at Conestoga, which in turn makes an impact on the community where they live. Many individuals have gone on to be an influence in organizations worldwide.”

Timothy Training is the new, short-term discipleship training program for youth at Conestoga Bible Camp. The six-week spiritual retreat provides teaching, life training and opportunities for discipleship amongst young adults aged 18 to 26.

The program explores the topics of sacred pathways, church history and Jesus’ miracles. Timothy Training runs from the beginning of May until the middle of June and is open to everyone.

“Over 40 different denominations are represented at the camp. Children and youth from all walks of life not only find Jesus but find themselves during their time with us,” Ruegg said.  

Camp facilities are available to rent for private, daytime and overnight events. Facilities available at the camp include a large dining area, full kitchen, large common area, cabins and lakeside chapel, along with waterfront and outdoor facilities.

Maintenance, upgrades and expansion are ongoing at Conestoga Bible Camp. Recently work was completed on the change rooms, amphitheatre, baseball diamond, and drainage and septic systems.

During the fall, a capital project package will be completed with plans to accommodate an increase in staff and campers.

With these ambitious goals, the camp will be requesting donations (income tax receipts are provided).

“At Conestoga Bible Camp we do not have a congregation so we consider the community to be our congregation,” Ruegg said.

“The camp needs the community’s financial help to be here for another 50 years.”

Barriage said, “We are always looking for volunteers to assist in the daily operation of the camp.

“Beyond that the camp is in need of volunteers in administrative assistance, accounting, maintenance, grounds work and kitchen positions.”

The camp has a growing list of items required to improve programming. A prayer list is currently being compiled.

For more information on summer camp registration, facility rentals, volunteering or donations, go to www.conestogabiblecamp.org or call 519-638-2440.

September 8, 2017

 
 

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