All posts by Rachel Pipher

Camp & Welcome

He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:36-37

Camp is a place where Knox does welcome well. It is a place where kids can feel comfortable to be exactly who they are. Camp can be a place where kids and youth come alive — where they learn so much about who they are and what God created them to be. Camp is an opportunity to bless families in the Annex neighbourhood and from downtown Toronto to do the practical work of caring for kids whose parents require childcare as they go to work on those sunny, long summer days! These families and their children experience welcome in the genuine interest taken to consider the needs of each child, the intentional programming for kids requiring accessibility, and the investment and relationship-building evident in the leaders’ care for campers.

It has been years since Knox Camps began the good work of shaping the leadership development of youth and young adults who are given the opportunity to become leaders in our midst. This summer, we are once again welcoming youth, ages 15 & 16, to join our Leaders-In-Training program. These young leaders are challenged to be selfless caregivers of children. This is where they learn to be good welcomers! At Knox Camp, we are developing programs to bridge kids towards an understanding and (hopefully!!) experience of what good leadership is. Our hope is that as children and youth develop socially and physically, they themselves become agents of welcome and good news in the city and around the world.

Camp is a place where kids make new friends, try new things and learn, sometimes for the first time, about how important they are to God. This is important work!

To this end, we are currently having conversations, receiving applications and building a staff team of individuals who understand the importance of welcoming children well. Camp is a place of mission. We believe camp has an opportunity to build into children and youth at a crucial point in their lives. We recognize this great responsibility we have been blessed with and are committed to give our best in the service, care and fun geared to the children who we welcome to join the fun of Knox Camps!

As we anticipate another season of welcoming hundreds of children to Knox Camps, my prayer is that God provides the energy for tireless fun, the joy for invested conversations, and the rootedness that comes from seeking God for each new day. At Knox Camps, we want to be a place of welcome. In Jesus’ name, for His sake, and for His glory to be realized in Toronto.

——  Rachel Pipher, Camp & Children’s Ministries Coordinator

What Rashan Loves About Camp

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Hi Knox Camps!

Rashan here! I am so excited to be back at Knox this summer as one of your Program Directors! I just finished up the first year of my Masters of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University and I am so happy that I get to come hang out at Knox during my summer break. I have been a part of the “summer camp world” for over 10 years in numerous capacities and I really do feel like camp is my second home.

When I was thinking about what I love about camp it was so hard to pick something that would fit in this short blog post. I think the reason I feel called to work at camp year after year is because of the unique way that camp is a place just for kids. We live in a world designed for adults and I love that here, children have the opportunity to learn and grow in an environment designed especially for them.

One of my favourite parts of camp is watching the relationships that develop between campers. I love watching an older camper help a younger camper tie their shoes or see campers cheering on their friends during a wide game. Camp allows children to come out of their shells and we always encourage them to be themselves.

This summer is going to be amazing and I am pumped for all the good things God has planned for the Knox community. Camp is all about showing kids God’s love and letting them know how valued and special they are in His eyes. I feel so blessed that I get to be apart of the amazing works that are taking place here and I am counting down the days until campers get here (19 days…if you were wondering).

Blessings,

Rashan Edwards
Program Director

Learning from the Littlest

“After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias.  A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.

Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”

Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.  After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.

When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.”

– John 6:1-15 (NLT)

I’ve always really loved this story, for what it teaches us about the small offerings that we bring to Jesus, and the ways that He works BIG things through them, but also for what it has always spoken to me about the way Jesus values children.

The disciples see the little boy’s lunch and think, “What good could that possibly do?” And I think that this often the way we respond to children – “You’re too young,” “Wait until you’re older,” “Children are the future,” these are common tropes in our society that suggest that the value of a child lies in what they will become, not in who they are now.

But Jesus? He sees a little boy as the answer to his problem, just as he is, with just what he has. While others dismiss him and see his contribution as unworthy, Jesus sees possibility, and works miracles through him.

Camp is a magical realm in which children’s potential and value is the sole focus. Everything, everything, that happens at camp is with kids in mind. It is a world devoted to them, their strengths, their voices, their laughter, their needs.

We at Knox Camps believe in the value of children. We believe that small children are capable of BIG faith. And we believe that Jesus does too!

“Let the little children come to me,” He says, “and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14).

Here’s to children, to their wonderful, creative, brilliant, talented, and funny selves, and to seeing the way the Lord does BIG things through them!

Blessings,

Andi Nolson
Knox Camps, Camp Director

 

 

 

 

A Fresh Take on Jr High for 2015

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“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

One of the many cool things about Jesus is that he is always doing something new in his people, even as his deep love stays the same. Similarly, new things are in the works for a transformative Jr. High ministry this summer, while the same mission of loving each camper and valuing their unique identities remains at its core. Using my understanding of child and youth development and direct experience with this age group, I have been working hard this Spring to develop a camp program that is tailored to the unique experiences and needs of middle schoolers. Here are two developments that are new to Jr. High Camp 2015:

Bible studies and small group time will be inquiry-based.

Allowing campers’ own questions, observations, and reflections to direct small group discussions heightens engagement with bible study themes and ensures that the topics discussed are relevant to campers’ lives. At the beginning of each week, after a brief introduction to the large group bible study concept, jr. high campers will have the opportunity to submit anonymous questions or thoughts which they would like to like to explore throughout the rest of the week. Each subsequent small group discussion will be centred around these submissions.

Jr. Highs will have the opportunity to develop their strengths and leadership skills with Leadership Friday’s.

Middle schoolers are often caught in the “in between” space– not assumed to be old enough to be treated like adults, but too old to be perceived as children. It is my hope to create an empowering environment where these youth feel that they are taken seriously and are provided with the resources they need to grow as mature leaders. Each Friday, a jr. high camper will be paired up with a camp staff member to assist or take the wheel as is appropriate. The day will close with a debrief, in which campers will receive individual feedback about their strengths and ways they can continue to develop their abilities as leaders.

There are some aspects of camp that reappear year after year, unchanged. This summer you and your middle schoolers can expect to see more of the awesome activities and trips that made last summer so much fun! Here’s a sneak peek to ease some of the suspense (and build up excitement):

  • Geocaching
  • Fear Factor
  • The Amazing Race
  • Day trip & more!

Hope to see you there!

Peace,

Jamayca Whalen
Jr High Program Director

What Jamayca Loves About Camp

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Take the Plunge

Hello, Knox Camps!

Jamayca here, back for a second summer of Knox Camps (I just couldn’t get enough), but this time as your Jr. High Program Director! I am bubbling over with excitement about the next few months, and I’ll tell you why. But first, let’s get acquainted.

I’m a West Coast child, born in Vancouver, BC and raised in the Okanagan. Two years ago, I packed up my belongings and moved here to study at the University of Toronto. After dabbling in the life sciences during my first year, I found a niche that holds me comfortably. I’m now studying Psychology, Education, and French. One day I might teach French Immersion (I say might because I’ve been known to change my mind frequently). I love French toast, hiking, DIY-ing, Ed Sheeran, owls, the colour mint green, and children’s books. If you’re familiar with the children’s ministry at Knox, you probably know me well. I teach Sunday School here and have been a cabin leader at the Jr. High Youth Retreat the past two winters. This June I am heading to Liepāja, a small city in Latvia, with a team of young adults to partner with a Latvian church in leading a musical performance camp for jr. and sr. high school students. This means I get to be a part of not one, but two, camps this summer!

When I became a first-time leader last year, I was not anticipating the life-changing experience that would follow. Nothing could have prepared me for the tangible love and self-discovery that are such prominent features of camp. For leaders and youth alike, it is a place where each person is an essential unit to a greater whole, a place where everyone has needs and is needed. Each staff member and camper brings a unique element to the camp dynamic, and their contribution– that is, simply being there and being themselves— is genuinely appreciated.

We are all precious children of God, designed with the utmost care and attention to detail, but the world often sends a different message. Children and adults alike are told that they are too much, or not enough, or should just be a different way than they are. Here at camp, we disagree. Our leaders understand that someone’s identity is not based in their gender, skin colour, style of dress, academic performance, athleticism, body shape, or any other characteristic that the world claims as being important. Rather, a person’s identity is wholly nestled in one beautiful truth: they are loved infinitely and incomprehensibly by Jesus exactly as they are. What does this mean for the youth and leaders at camp?

It means that everyone has the opportunity to dive deep into who they are, knowing that when they resurface with whatever treasures they have found at the bottom they will be welcomed with joy and encouragement. Camp is like an ocean of self-discovery, and the message is clear:

Take the plunge; the water is warm.

Peace,
Jamayca Whalen
Jr. High Program Director

 

More Summer 2015 Sneak Peeks!

The suspense is over! Announcing the themes for Weeks 4, 5, and 6 of Day Camp 2015!

Don’t miss out on the exciting summer ahead at Knox Camps!

Week 4 (July 27th – July 31st): “30,000 Leagues Under the Sea”

Sam and Adrian are really excited to go to the World’s Biggest Water Park–until they learn that the entire Rainbow Seal habitat was destroyed in order to build it. The last of the endangered Rainbow Seals have disappeared, and this duo is determined to find them. With the help of an enthusiastic biology teacher, Sam and Adrian are about to go on the greatest underwater adventure of their lives!

 

Week 5 (August 4th – August 7th): “Out of Time!”

Irene Ichabod the Inventor has been spending many sleepless nights in her laboratory. She is this close to coming up with a machine that can travel through space and time!!! There’s just one little problem: one of the parts she ordered went missing, and she’s not sure if the machine will work without it. Guess there’s only one way to find out…!

 

Week 6 (August 10th – August 14th): “The Amazing Race: Arctic Expedition”

And we’re back in studio at Yukon’s number one radio show, The Chilly Moose! Of course this week our coverage is focused on the breath-taking Amazing Race: Arctic Expedition, where seven teams are competing for the ultimate glory: taking home the Arctic Expedition Cup! Listen along with us as we follow the competitors through the cold and dangerous route through our extraordinary city of Whitehorse, Yukon in beautiful Canada! Stay golden, Whitehorse!

 

What Andrea Loves About Camp

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Hi Knox Camps!

My name is Andrea Petersen and I am super excited about joining the camp team this year as Program Director. Already in this first week preparing for camp, I have created the crazy wonderful themes we will enjoy and explore this summer! Take a peek earlier in our blog to read all about them.

This year I completed my Bachelor of Concurrent Education at York University in the Junior/Intermediate stream. I will be continuing at York for my final year in September to finish my BFA in Studio Art. I love to learn and believe camp is the best place to grow intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. God has called me to Knox Camps this summer to share this passion with campers and I’m excited to see what he has planned for us!

I have been attending camp as a camper and leader in various capacities for over 10 years. It is safe to say that camp is my “home away from home”. In a community like Knox Camps, campers and leaders alike are accepted as they are, spiritually fed and nurtured, supported in their unique learning experiences, create lifelong friendships, and experience God in a tangible way. That way is seeing God’s neverending love reciprocated through camper-leader relationships. Some of my most important periods of growth as a person have happened at summer camp, through mindful teaching of scripture and intentional mentorship from leaders. From these personal experiences, I have come to know Jesus better than I ever could have imagined.

I often get parents and guardians asking me, what makes camp so special? How is summer camp different from school or sports teams? Again I find myself resting on the fact that the relationships formed at camp last a lifetime. The selfless and consistent support given from leaders to campers exemplifies the eternal love of Jesus Christ, which is given without expectation of reward or notice. A smile, hug or high five from your precious little one means more than the riches of this world to us.

Each staff member plays an integral role in our diverse community of Christ followers, as do the campers we serve. God knows us all by name and has planned the good works we will produce together at Knox this summer. He has brought us together with the purpose of loving on your little ones and doing it with joy in our hearts.

I can’t wait to welcome back campers from past summers and meet the faces of new friends. This is going to be the best summer yet!

Peace,

Andrea Petersen

Program Director, Knox Camps

 

Summer 2015 Sneak Peek!

The Program Team has been working away planning for the fun summer ahead, and we are excited to share with you some of our awesome themes that we have planned!

Which one are YOU most looking forward to??!

 

Week 1 (July 6th – July 10th): “The Great Escape”

Rory is at the Knoxville Public Library and sees a tattered, unfamiliar book on the shelf. As Rory is flipping through the pages, a curious character catches Rory’s eye–and winks! Are the characters in this book alive? A mysterious fog is swirling around Knoxville Public Library…

Week 2 (July 13th – July 17th): “The Knox Games”

Teams are gathering in Toronto from all over the world to compete in this year’s Knox Games. Bets are on for the team from either China, Canada, or Jamaica to take home the most medals due to their dedication and courage. Stay tuned as we cheer on our favourite athletes in these physically and mentally challenging games!

Week 3 (July 20th – 24th): “Saving Candyland”

Flynn has a sweet tooth. Last Christmas, he even asked Santa for a lifetime supply of ice cream sandwiches. One night, after eating too many Twizzlers and Mars Bars, Flynn dreams that they’ve arrived in Candyland, but soon realizes that something is amiss: Candyland has been invaded by fruits and vegetables! What will happen to Flynn’s sugary wonderland?

 

Stay tuned for the exciting themes we have planned for Weeks 4, 5 and 6!

 

 

What Andi Loves About Camp

 

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Hi, Knox Camps!

I’m Andi Nolson and I am thrilled to be joining this Knox team this year as Camp Director! Last summer, I served on the Camp team as Program Director and had an incredible experience – I am so excited to be back again and in this new role, I know it’s going to be an amazing year for Knox’s Camp Ministry! Outside of camp, I am a recent graduate from York University’s Concurrent Education Program in Primary/Junior Education, with a Bachelor of Arts in Children’s Studies, I am newly married and a relatively new resident of Toronto. Some hobbies include cooking, travelling and taking in live music and theatre. I also love to read, and have an extensive collection of picture books! It is my dream to one day write my own children’s books. I am so looking forward to seeing what God has in store for this season of camp at Knox, and the way that He impacts kids’ lives through the Camp Team this year!

Today’s post kicks off a series that myself and the Program Directors will be posting over the next few weeks entitled “What I Love About Camp.” We have an incredible team of Program Directors this summer who have a variety of different camp experiences. As I type this, I am listening to them eagerly planning exciting camp programming and Bible Studies that campers are going to LOVE, and I am excited for you to hear a bit about their passion for camp this Spring.

I have been a “camp person” for a number of years, having served at multiple different camp settings in a variety of capacities. I have such a passion for the way that God uses camp in the lives of kids (and leaders) – to teach them about the people He created them to be, to speak to them of His enduring love, and to create meaningful, lasting friendships. I truly believe that lives are transformed at camp.

My absolute favourite thing about camp is the way that campers and leaders alike experience grace so tangibly. Camp is a place where everyone is invited to be themselves, and where everyone is reminded that God designed and loves them just as they are. Camp is a place where confidence grows, as campers realize that they are in a safe place to explore who they are and who Jesus is. There is a freedom to try new things without the fear of failing or being judged, and also a freedom to be a little bit goofy sometimes! (Okay, most of the time….!) I never took my parents up on the opportunity to go to camp as a child, but as a camp staff member over the years, I have taken more risks than I ever thought possible, and have learned so much about the person God has made me to be in the process.

I also am just so encouraged by watching camp leaders interact with campers in the loving way that they do. Grace is so evident in the selfless way that leaders put the needs of their campers’ before their own, and in the way that campers are forgiven when they make mistakes and welcomed back into the camp community so readily. I’ve encountered Jesus more tangibly in these moments than anywhere else, and it is exciting to me that camp presents so many opportunities for this to happen.

There is nowhere that I have laughed harder, danced crazier or sang louder than at camp. For these reasons (and so many more), I am so excited to get this summer started! Only 52 days to go! (But who’s counting?!)

Stay tuned for posts from our wonderfully talented Program Directors, as well as for some fun Knox Camp updates about what to expect this summer!

 

Blessings,
Andi Nolson
Knox Camps, Camp Director