Canterbury Tales: An Introduction
Though my skills at writing in verse are impeccable I have decided to have the onlylink to Chaucer within this be the name of the camp I work at. Sorry if there were any old english enthusiasts drawn to this story. Here is the story of my introduction to camping in general, and camping as a ministry.
Throughout my childhood I moved several times; took ballet, highland dancing, choir, synchronized swimming,
Canterbury Hills Camp in the fall
basketball… I joined lots of clubs and subsequently dropped them about one or two seasons afterwards when we moved, I lost interest, or something seemed much more interesting. The one thing I stuck with from the time I was a very little girl until I was entering high school was The Girl Guides of Canada. I started out as a Brownie and worked my way up to Pathfinders, then became a Jr. Leader. I loved it. It was an opportunity for me, as a girl, to feel confident in various areas, especially camping.
I was not part of a family that often went camping, we tried a few times, watched mom and dad attempt to discover which tent poles went where only to have it rain the second or third night soaking all of our sleeping bags and clothes. It was okay we didn’t go often though, that was never what I viewed as ‘camping’. Camping to me became more of an ideology, a mindset, than it was about a tent or a fire (though I can’t say a day at camp is complete without a campfire). Camping was where I learned new things, got to know people better than I thought I ever would and where we all got to be creative, adventurous and supportive of one another.
When I was in grade three or four living in Oakville, Ontario I had two of my cousins from Calgary come and work at Canterbury Hills Camp in Ancaster. We would go pick them up after each session and drop them off for the next one every week or so. This experience opened my eyes to a whole new idea of camp… I could go to camp for a week! And maybe someday I could go to camp for a whole summer! When I was in grade six I attended my first residential camp session at Canterbury Hills and fell in love with the camp and the experience.
Hiking to Webster's Falls – a half-day hike from Canterbury Hills Camp
The Sweet Smell Of Success.
s=”MsoNormal” style=”MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 10pt”>After that we moved to Vancouver Island where I attended Camp Columbia and experienced a whole new experience of camping. We took a ferry over to Thetus Island and stayed in one room cabins, we signed up for program areas and got to spend lots of time in the ocean either swimming, kayaking or flying off the gigantic “blob” (a large inflated… blob attached to the dock). This experience taught me not all camps are the same at all but they seem to all be capable of capturing the ‘magic of camp’.
When I was at an age where I could start working at a camp my family moved to the Diocese of Calgary where there is no longer a permanent camp, but a week-long camp run by various families and clergy within the diocese, I decided to return to Canterbury Hills as a Leader in Training.
This meant that now living in Calgary I was following in my cousins’ footsteps and staying with friends in Oakville far away from my immediate family and new friends. I was terrified when I got off the plane, I was 15 and I remember hoping the drive would take longer to postpone the inevitable moment where I would realize I wasn’t going to see my family for two months. My parents had flown out with me as part of their own holiday and as we got out of the car I immediately knew it was going to be okay. From the first cabin on the path I heard this loud, full-hearted laugh. We approached the cabin and inside were two members of the senior staff, or Resource Team. They welcomed me and helped me with my things. As we walked down the path of other cabins more people saw there was a new face and approached me at once introducing themselves asking lots of questions and ensuring I knew how happy they all were that I was there.
That, to me, is the basis of camp, though I haven’t mentioned God, Anglicanism, or my faith journey up to this point they all make up a huge part of what I now define as Camp Ministry. The idea of camp, to me, in general is this place where you are accepted and loved; you are pushed to grow and are supported when you fall. It is this environment that, in my opinion, gives youth an opportunity to begin asking questions about faith, identity, relationships, etc. in a place equipped to facilitate some of those first steps in a faith journey.
Since my first summer at 15, I have been an LIT, a one-on-one counsellor for campers with special needs, and a member of the Resource Team. This summer I am returning to Canterbury Hills Camp as Camp Coordinator and hosting a Camping Ministries page for Anglicans across Canada and beyond. I hope this can become an opportunity for a positive exchange about strengthening the Camping program within the Anglican Church of Canada. This site should be just like camp, an opportunity to question, challenge, discuss and grow in a supportive environment. I look forward to growing with you!
Heather Pearson, Generation.anglican.ca writer and Camp Coordinator for Canterbury Hills Camp