Women's Ministries -
Let me tell you about our amazing Autumn Blaze weekends for women this fall at Pioneer! Our theme for the weekend was “The Great Exchange”. The focus was that when we reach the end of our own self-effort to transform ourselves and the world in which we live, God is more than willing to step in and transform not just our outward behaviour but our very character!
We began Friday evening with the women of Guided Hands doing a fun presentation on how the purses we each have represent our personality. That carried over to Saturday at supper time when we had some crazy ‘purse’ games, with prizes. Throughout the weekend Marion Lee, in her theme talks, guided us to think about God’s work in our lives to change us through times of ‘planting, pruning and picking’. Marion shared her own story of transformation which gave many women the courage to know that they could be changed. The prayer room was a busy place.
The zip line continued to be one of our most popular activities. Mountain biking, voyageur canoe rides, crafts, wetlands exploration and archery as well as a variety of workshops provided optional choices that allowed the women to expand their horizons.
Our times of worship and praise led by gifted musicians were very special. Terry and Debbie provided lovely meals. There were a wide range of ages from university students to one great-grandmother. We especially enjoyed having quite a number of mothers with their daughters. One of the women who had been very apprehensive about coming, told me that she felt welcomed and safe in her time at camp.
Family Camp -
This summer families were stranded on a deserted Island at OPC Family Camp. It was an awesome adventure! It was a great week where families of all ages (from 2 months to grandparents) enjoyed God's creation, good food, beach parties, water activities, great wide games, good jokes, worship, bible teaching, and each other's company.
Family camp provided the opportunity for people to grow in spiritual ways. It was a great week of opportunity for young leaders (teen helpers) to be affirmed in, and develop, their leadership skills.
One family was challenged and left camp encouraged to pursue a short and/or possible long term mission opportunity. Another mother attended OPC as a child and has not been connected to any Christian community since. She always wanted to return to OPC with her family. This summer God touched her heart and she left camp reconnecting with her faith and wanting to find a church community --- and return to Family Camp again next year!
Fuel 2010 witnessed one of the most comprehensive program themes to greet the shores of Lake Clearwater. A giant RISK board hung from the wall of the dining hall motivating teams while they participated in furious strategy sessions, intense athletic challenges and created unique cultural identities as the classic board game was adapted for the week’s entertainment. Continuous participation was encouraged with a stock market component, and live video coverage of actual game play on monitors strategically placed throughout the dining hall captivated players’ attention during meals.
Amidst the atmosphere of competition, the importance of this last week of the summer continually revealed itself. Fuel provides youth and young adults with a safe environment to discover and solidify the importance of the truth of Jesus Christ in their lives. The teaching of Matt Wilkinson challenged an active participation in our faith, and the importance of investing in a community of believers. Through worship, teaching and personal relationships Fuel strives to provide a glimpse of genuine Christian community. The conversations and experiences during the week had left both campers and staff affirmed of their personal worth and value in the eyes of God, and equipped to transition back into school or work.
Fuel 2010 was both an incredibly fun and meaningful week!
Woodland Challenge –
Day 1 -5:30am
The alarm rings and I shuffle over to Meadowlands to wake up our campers. Last night when I told them that we rise and set with the sun they thought I was joking. For a second I wished I was. Within a few minutes we are up and have formed a silent convoy of canoes paddling to Boys Camp. The water is so calm that it looks like we are paddling in the clouds reflected on the water. When we get to the middle of the lake, the far shore begins to glow in the orange light of the new morning. Soon it hits us, and as we settle back at the dock everyone becomes aware that this is the first time they have ever needed sunglasses for morning dip.
When people ask me why Woodland gets up so early, I tell them it is because we share waterfronts with the sites around the lake, so we have to be swimming while they are still eating breakfast. Or I explain that we need to acclimatize the campers to trip time, so that for the 2 weeks we are in the backcountry we will be used to nature’s schedule. At best these excuses are only half the truth.
There is something special that happens when you are up before anyone else. There is a joy that comes from seeing the fresh canvas of a new day as you smell the dew evaporating. It is a moment that is missed by most, and completely obscured to teenagers. Eventually the day will turn into a blur, but this is a fleeting moment of peace. Is it any surprise that Jesus woke up early in the morning to find a quiet place to pray?
By the end of the month tiredness isn’t the dominant thought during morning activity anymore – it is replaced with a disbelief that the rest of the lake is missing this.
The world is a whole new place after 24 sunrises.
LIT (Leaders In Training) -
It was another phenomenal, surprising summer at the Clearwater site!
As I was reading Jesus’ words to His followers in Acts 1 recently, I was reminded of the young men and women who participated in the LIT program this summer. In His last moments with them, Jesus says that it is not for them to know the details of God’s plans, but that they will receive power by the Holy Spirit and be witnesses near and far.
That is what LIT felt like at the end of this summer—a bit of an ending and a momentous beginning. This summer we were witness to incredible growth in both the lives of LITs and staff, and we learned to be witnesses ourselves in the way we live out and talk boldly about our faith. Beyond that, it also became a time of looking ahead, asking: who do I want to be as a leader, friend, adult, follower of Jesus, and how do I follow Him beyond camp? What might God be calling me to in other areas of my life?
It was incredible walking with these creative, thoughtful, passionate young leaders this summer, and I cannot wait to see where God takes them in the future!
Girls' Camp -
Nestled in the trees between the beach and the lodge, the new Girls’ Camp treehouse was a hub of both activity and quiet this summer. From its deck we gazed through the cedars to glimpse campers laughing uproariously as they coordinated their strokes to propel the new rowing sculls out into the lake.
From the basketball court below during an opening night campfire, we saw characters scamper from the treehouse to kick off the popular “Neighbourhoodz” theme. Campers and their Bible study leaders gathered in the treehouse daily to wrestle with matters of life and faith as they learned more about the Character of Jesus.
Rainy days found activity classes learning rescue breathing, points of sail or core strengthening exercises under its sheltering roof. Staff often caught a few minutes together in the quiet of the treehouse to celebrate a birthday or a staff departure, join in a devotional or pray together. And nightly sounds of laughter and chatter would reveal a chalet group nestled into their sleeping bags for an overnight adventure.
Thank you to all those who envisioned, planned, hammered, financed, prayed and dedicated our new treehouse into being. For from its perch along the shores of Lake Clearwater the Girls’ Camp community encountered Jesus, grew in skill, plotted craziness, received rest and rejuvenation and rejoiced at friendship taking root!
Adventure Camp -
Written by Sarah Campbell
As I sit and reflect upon this summer at Adventure Camp, I struggle to summon the words that would do justice to the beautiful, fun, safe and Christ-centred place that camp was. In the midst of a busy September, all I need to do is simply close my eyes and I am instantly back at camp. I can hear the sounds of mayors greeting campers as they arrive, introducing themselves as the person who is in charge of making sure each child has fun at camp. I hear the entire camp singing the Adventure Camp song as one: “I know the greatest place in all of outer space...”. I can hear the clarity of the voice of a camper telling me that camp is the place she feels most loved, and the voice of another telling me that Bible Adventure is his favorite part of the day.
The sounds of laughter at the waterfront; of chalet leaders speaking kind words of affirmation into their campers lives; or of small whispered prayers thanking God for their leaders, creation, and friends are commonplace at camp, and yet are the small treasures that I carry through the year in my mind.
These echoes of this summer are carried with all the leaders of Adventure Camp throughout the year, reminding us of the highest purpose of camp: to introduce campers to Jesus. This is the most precious of all sounds - the sound of campers praying to Jesus, accepting His gifts of grace and mercy in their young lives.
Boys' Camp -
Reflecting on the story of Boys’ Camp 2010, it became clear that our summer was actually the convergence of numerous smaller stories joining together to form a larger narrative. It began as a story of our team praying and crying out to God to widen our vision of what He could accomplish in our midst. It continued as a story of worship as campers and staff met God in times of praise, declaring that “Christ had risen from the dead and trampled over death”. The story was one of milestones as several staff members were recognized and celebrated for their ongoing partnership and investment in what God had been doing at Boys’ Camp over many years. Healing was a large theme in the story as God’s redemptive power met many people coming from wounded, confused and broken places. They were refreshed by God’s faithfulness as they petitioned boldly for His intervention and saw His power made perfect in weakness in both staff and campers. It was also a story of restoration and solidarity as the community rallied around a friend and family in need of both prayer and support. Most importantly, the story was also a tale of salvation as numerous campers made decisions to accept God’s gift of love, through His son Jesus. It was a summer whose story is still being written in the lives of those who were shaped by it and who long to see how God will weave it into the grander story He is telling in their lives.
Here are a few chapters from the story that reflect God’s handiwork over this past summer.
On the last day of session one, everyone went to play Diamond Smugglers in the dining hall. My camper Aaron and I stayed behind to finish our conversation from the previous day. We were talking about what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus. Before the game started I asked him if he wanted to accept Jesus into his life. Still slightly sceptical, he said he needed more time to think about that. I told him that that was fine and asked him if I could pray for him, he said yes. to As we were sitting on the bench, the noise coming out of the dining hall and almost drowning out our prayer, God showed up and touched his life. As I prayed he began to weep. It lasted for about 15 minutes or so. He turned to me and said “I want to make that decision, I want to know Jesus.” So we prayed together and he invited Jesus into his life. It was an incredible moment. At the end of the session when his mother picked him up she said, “I haven’t seen you this happy before? I love the smile on your face.” This totally got me. Even though it was a one week session, God showed up and did something incredible in Aaron’s life. May all the praise be to God!
My camper needed to take a little break from his activity period so we sat down on the edge of the field and watched. For the past of couple of days Cole had been struggling with homesickness. He missed his Mom and it came up again while were sitting there. As we sat and talked together, Mitchell, a camper with an exceptionality, told Cole that he had been crying the night before because he missed his parents as well. Mitchell proceeded to tell Cole that he was okay because his leader had prayed for him and he mentioned that I should do the same for Cole. So I did. I thanked God for Cole, and for his mother and family. I thanked God that his mother loved him so much and for the blessing that it was to have him in my chalet. I then thanked God for how much he loved Cole. As I prayed Cole began to start crying and hug me. Mitchell then asked if he could pray as well and also receive one of those hugs. So Mitchell prayed as well.
After we all calmed down a bit, I asked Cole if he knew how much God loved him. He said he did not. I held up my hands to measure and told him to do the same. Cole put his hands on mine and I said “God loves you this much times a trillion! Do you know how much that is?” Cole shook his head again and smiled. I admitted that that was a crazy amount to love someone, but that it was true. That God loved him so much. What an amazing opportunity to share the love of God with one of his precious children.
AJ came to camp feeling like he needed a change in his life. He had been in trouble with the law in the weeks leading up to camp and knew that he needed a fresh start. On the third day of the session I walked into the cabin at the end of the night to discover that my campers were discussing the book of Revelation. That in and of itself was amazing, but the conversation didn’t stop there. AJ, who was new to Christianity and the idea that God loved him, asked what repentance meant and what it meant for him to be freed from his sin. He then asked if God would forgive him; if he would be able to have salvation. I asked AJ if he wanted to go for a walk to discuss things further. He agreed and we walked for over an hour. I had the opportunity, by the grace of God, to explain to him the story of Jesus: the fact that he loved him; had died for him; had given him the opportunity to be freed from his life of sin and to be in a relationship with him. After we talked AJ said to me that he wanted to follow Jesus. So we prayed together and he accepted Jesus! In the days following it was really encouraging to see AJ learn more about Jesus and his new faith in bible studies and in more conversations.
AJ was only at camp for one week. Sometimes it’s easy to say things like this camper isn’t here long enough to get to know Jesus or he would never be interested in this God thing. It was humbling having God show up and do something in his own time and in his own way. It was also such a blessing to be a part of AJ’s journey with Jesus. After our talk that night AJ expressed that he believe God had brought him to camp that session for a reason; I don’t think AJ could have been any more correct in saying that.
I went swimming with my camper during free swim boats out and he had a blast! This was incredible because when he was at camp in first session he wasn’t able to complete the swim test so he received a red lanyard which limited his options at the waterfront. This session he was really nervous about attempting the lanyard swim so I said that I would swim it with him and encourage him along the way. It wasn’t easy, but he pushed through and was able to get his blue lanyard--which is the highest level you can achieve. He had an amazing time at camp experiencing the waterfront. More than this, he was also afraid of heights but still managed to jump off the high tower. It was amazing to see him having so much fun. God was definitely working to keep him safe and help him grow and take risks.
One of Pioneers Summer Reunions took place this year at the Rogers Center in downtown Toronto to see the Toronto Argonauts host the Saskatchewan Roughriders in a very intense football game! Unfortunantly the Argos forfeited to the Roughriders, but it was still an amazing game and a great time spent with friends made at camp!
OPC Goes Green!
This was a fantastic summer of ministry!! God did amazing things. One example of this,was an answer to a prayer that I had been praying for the past three years. Three years ago I felt that we really needed to be developing more sustainable practice in all of our programming and systems. I realized that I could not champion this cause alone and that we needed someone from outside our director team to begin the process of moving towards sustainability. This past year, Kyle Ford, a student in the Masters of Environmental Sustainability program at the University of Western Ontario, approached me, and asked if he could do a placement with us. In conjunction with our team, Kyle developed a mission statement based on scripture and significant goals that will lead us toward sustainability. He led discussions that generated ideas and moves forward. He got people talking about sustainability, thinking differently about decisions that they made and continue to make. This newsletter is an example of one such decision.
To date, we have been sending out an annual fall newsletter. It goes out on newsprint to a mailing house where they wrap it in a plastic poly-bag and mail it to you. When we explored not having it sent in a poly-bag, the mailing houses explained that because we are not a regular periodical they cannot send it out magazine style. As we made a decision to move forward, we have decided instead to send out a monthly 'e-news' letter. We have also made changes to our brochure. While the matte finish of our brochure is more expensive, it is also easier to recycle. In order to save paper, we opted to put four less pages in our brochure and only one application form.
God has blessed us with so much and we are so excited about some of the ideas and changes that we will be making towards sustainability in the future. We will keep you posted!
In between the screams of excitement and fun, you could see bonds of friendships being formed this summer during the extreme adventures of Genesis. Campers stared their fears in the face and overcame them as they stepped off an 80 foot cliff for the day’s first rappel—their friends below cheering them on. The Ottawa River was another amazing challenge for these campers. The nervousness in their voices as we approached rapids like “Screaming White Fangs of Death”, “Butchers Knife”, and “Garburator” made their yells of excitement and sense of accomplishment after we passed them that much sweeter. With each emphatic high five and hug those bonds grew deeper. The farm, our base camp, offered a sense of tranquility as we camped out under the stars. With the roaring campfire in the foreground the laughter turned into conversations about God, about life, and about things that really matter. The constant growth of the program each year is a reminder that God’s hand of grace and mercy is definitely upon it. In an environment that is surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation we were reminded just how much He loves us, and that He made this place for us to enjoy. Spending countless hours talking about what it means to be a Christian in the daily walk of the camper’s lives is a true testament that God was there.
As a responsible parent, we know that you naturally have questions regarding the right choice of summer camp for your child. At Ontario Pioneer Camp there are questions that parents continue to ask us year after year, so, we've made a list of the most popular ones here.
If you can't find an answer to your question, send us an email using the Contact Us form at the bottom of this website! We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Inside Work Done Outside: Thoughts on the Value of Children’s Camping
At camp, there are moments of exquisite serenity. They may be few and far between, but they are there, moments when the little villages in the woods, normally bustling with feet and ringing with laughter, are frozen frames of silent stillness. When the silky morning sun peers through the forest canopy and turns a dew-covered spider-web into a glistening marvel, the stunning beauty reminds us of the mystery of the place. For all its excitement, there is also a sense of peace. Another paradox of camp is that something so simple can be so significant. How do we explain this? What is it about camping that makes it such a valuable experience for kids? Why is camp such a smart investment for families?
It’s about being part of something bigger, yet still being free to be you. It’s about leaving the ordinary, and experiencing the extraordinary. It’s about doing what you love, and having the safety to try something new. It’s about trusting in who you are, while looking a little deeper. It’s about you.
Since 1929, Ontario Pioneer Camp has been a place dedicated to investing in you!
Pioneer Camp is a place made for you. It’s designed for your skills, your needs, your happiness, and your development. The programs, the activities, the environment, the staff, and the volunteers are all there to make your experience as incredible and as lasting as possible. Since 1929, Ontario Pioneer Camp has been a place dedicated to investing in you, and thousands of young people like you.
At the heart of everything we do at Pioneer is a passion and commitment to see young people live as fully committed followers of Jesus Christ. We are not only concerned with your physical, social, and mental development, but also your spiritual development. Providing you with a safe environment to explore and ask questions and having caring staff who are there to get to know you as they invest in and mentor you is imperative to the work done at Pioneer Camp each year. Through time dedicated to the study of God’s Word, worship, the building of authentic relationships, and the on-going lifestyle and discussions of our trusted staff, Pioneer creates a time and space for every camper to experience God’s love and better understand the person that He created them to be.
At Pioneer, we are also in the business of fun-making. Camp is certainly about more than just fun, but you can’t have camp without it. You’re not going to want to be at camp if you’re not having fun, and likely neither would we. But for staff, there are few pleasures like watching a toothy grin creep across the face of a camper, or hearing a good-hearted laugh fill the air. It’s why we design themes that engage your imagination, games that thrill and challenge you, and activities that excite you beyond expectation. We also include as many interests and abilities as possible because fun is something that is meant to be experienced by everyone at camp, and that includes you.
Pioneer Camp creates a time and space for every camper to experience God’s love and better understand the person that He created them to be
Camp is also a great place to develop your skills and abilities. You have a remarkable capacity to learn and grow at this stage of your life, and camp gives you an incredible environment filled with opportunities that are designed to stimulate and challenge you. The activities around the lake can see you learning everything from the rules of basketball and how to glaze ceramics to lifesaving skills and how to roll a kayak. Our knowledgeable and supportive staff members work carefully with every camper to help them succeed and to ensure that moments of frustration and failure can be transformed into ones of confidence and achievement.
The structure and dynamics of camp also help to create a powerful community that provides you with a rich environment for your social development. Living in a cabin with four other campers and supervised by a leader, you have the opportunity to create lasting friendships as you learn to share space and equipment, assert your own desires, compromise and negotiate with others, and even forgive one another and resolve conflicts from time to time. As part of a larger village or section of similar aged campers, these communities give you a greater opportunity to encounter different ideas, habits, and points of view, and help to expand your world a little more as you learn how to function better within it.
The importance of the natural setting of these communities can also not be underestimated as you leave your comfort zone to experience the wonders, joys, and challenges of living close to the natural world. Not only do these experiences give you an appreciation of the beauty of our natural environment and the extent of our impact on it, but we believe they also enable you to encounter a world marked by a loving and powerful Creator. At camp, we can experience some of the majesty and wonder of God through His creation. Paddling a canoe on an out-trip, gazing at a night sky, and even walking through the woods are not only physical experiences, but can also be spiritual ones, helping you better understand your place in the world and your relationship to it's Creator.
In all these ways, and many more, camp is an incredible and powerful experience that is made just for you. At Pioneer, we are convinced of the value and impact of camp and we are committed to giving you a first-class experience that is fun and safe and gives you the opportunity to grow – physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. If you leave camp having had a great experience, we are happy; if you leave changed, we are fulfilled. We hope that you and your family will give us this privilege by joining us at Pioneer this summer and in the years to come.
It's an investment in you,
and we think you're worth it!
We have noticed over the past several years that there are many campers who would like to go on a canoe trip but are reluctant to sign up because they don't want to miss anything at camp.
In response we have created the extended trip option where campers enjoy their session at camp and then stay for a few days into the next week to embark on their canoe trip adventure.
There's a place in C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle, the final installment in the Chronicles of Narnia series, where all the children who have ever visited Narnia pass through a doorway and into a new world which is like Narnia, only different - more real, more wonderful, more like the old Narnia was meant to be. The new Narnia "was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more." For me, canoe tripping is an experience a little bit like that. Time seems to slow down just a touch, and the rocks, trees, and water of the physical surroundings seem to grow in significance, if not in size. Out there, life is as real as it gets. Progress is powered by each stroke of the paddle and measured by landmarks on the map; accomplishment is savoured in a deliciously warm bowl beside a crackling fire. A trip's earthy authenticity translates into unmistakable growth opportunities for all who will risk some sweaty clothes and dirty fingernails -that's why out-tripping is such an integral part of a Pioneer Camp experience.