Anglican and Moravian youth headed to Camp Van-Es east of Edmonton for Winter Camp, March 8-10. Our theme for the weekend was our “Identity in Christ,” how it changes over time and how we are diverse and loved by God. Our Chaplaincy team included the Rev. Heather Liddell, Anglican Educational Chaplain; the Rev. James Lavoy and the Rev. Aaron Linville, pastors from the Moravian Church.
Earlier this winter, Heather and James had been talking and discovered that the Anglican and Moravian communities were planning separate youth (junior and senior high) winter camps. Heather was looking at Jasper, James was looking at Banff, and they realized they could host one camp together at Camp Van-Es.
Campers registered, overwhelmingly, through both organizations for the weekend retreat. When we combined both registration lists we realized there were 43 campers! Perhaps it was also the draw of heated cabins in a wooded setting.
James put out the call for more counselors and staff, and Deb Stevens stepped up to the challenge of feeding a horde of more than 50 hungry campers and staff! She provided a variety of meal options, including: vegetarian, gluten-free, halal, lactose-free and onion-free.
Campers and staff dribbled in on Friday night having driven through a late-season snow storm; some even making the treacherous trip on the QEII from Calgary. There were games, nourishment (hotdogs cooked in a fireplace), a campfire in the chapel, mug up (with Smores!) and we ended the evening with compline. Throughout the weekend Anglicans and Moravians shared their traditions and rich music culture with each other.
Thankfully, the weather cleared and Saturday dawned with sunshine and blue skies. After a big breakfast in Harmony Centre campers were split into groups: Blue Jays, Magpies and Whiskey Jacks, (staffed by Taylor Filipchuk, Noah Bohaychuk, Alex McPhee, Emma Martin, Aaron Baxter-Betz and Jeremy Morris). Each spent time with the chaplaincy team; with Megan Bedford doing crafts; with Luke Armstrong doing small group challenges; and with Dr. Mark exploring the surrounding woods on snowshoes. In the afternoon campers dived for footballs in the snow and spread out across the property, looking for envelopes fiendishly hidden by staff throughout the surroundings (from Morningstar Hall to Rainbow field). The scavenger hunt/Bible quote race was won by the Whiskey Jacks who were awarded their hard-earned prize later at the campfire.
In the evening adventuresome campers went for a midnight walk through the woods along narrow paths lit by flashlights. They stopped often to look up and admire the wondrous canopy of twinkling stars above. That night many of the campers opted to sleep on the floor of the Harmony Centre hall.
Sunday began with a pancake breakfast, followed by cleaning and packing up, and a closing Eucharist in the chapel. After group pictures, it was pool time under the watchful eye of life guard Emily Walker. Having lost an hour of sleep to Daylight Savings Time exhausted campers then made their way home.
It was wonderful returning to Camp Van-Es after so much history there with Camp Come Alive. We look forward to future youth events with the Moravian community!
With the conclusion of yet another faith-filled, action-packed winter camp, Dr. Mark Armstrong, the Rev. Heather Liddell and crew are already looking ahead to Base Camp this summer. Junior and senior high age adventure-seekers are invited to Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park, from July 21-26, 2019. Watch the Synod Scene and edmonton.anglican.ca for details and registration.