In a recent report from Turtle Mountain Bible Camp, the director, Howard Weir said camp is coming to a location near you.
This spring the team recognized that with schools closed and COVID-19 guidelines in place, hosting school groups, retreats and overnight summer camps would not be a possibility. Located south of Deloraine near Lake Metigosh, day camps there were also not practical.
Weir says, “Although we were disappointed that campers couldn`t come to experience the awesome new facility and normal camp activities on-site, our team worked diligently on ‘Plan B’. We wanted to ensure camp could still be part of their lives. Since we couldn’t bring campers to TMBC, it was decided that we take camp to the campers. It was encouraging to find many churches willing to partner with us and make their facilities available, to enable us to safely offer day camps in seven communities.”
Between July 27 -31 Virden Alliance and Virden Baptist Churches are going to host TMBC Day Camp.
Souris will hold a day camp next week, July 20-24, as will Waskada. In early August McDiarmid Drive Alliance Church in Brandon will also host TMBC day activities.
Day Camps have already run in Deloraine and Boissevain.
A great deal of planning has gone into providing an exciting program while implementing COVID-19 protocols and social distancing.
Each week, the camp leaders look forward to reconnecting with former campers as well as meeting many who have never attended camp before.
Chelsie Zylstra, the assistant director said, “Every camper receives a TMBC draw string bag that include a special camp T-shirt, devotional book, pencil crayons, bracelet and three crafts that are made during the week. Campers and leaders enjoy a variety of fun activities, a chapel time that includes skits, action songs, and time to hang out with friends in a new environment.”
Zylstra adds, “It was cute when one of the campers asked a leader, ‘Can I just sleep here so I’m ready for tomorrow?’”
This spring, before plans changed, TMBC staff and leadership cleaned up the grounds, the facilities and started on usual program preparations, in hopes of a normal camping season. Cabins eight and nine were painted and new wood bunks were installed. Since the old facility was demolished last fall, stored items were sorted and staff worked towards getting occupancy on the new facility.
The spring crew followed strict protocols of self-isolation prior to and after arriving at camp. These young people (most, former campers and staff) were willing to come and volunteer, even if the camp was unable to promise an honorarium.
The director reports that a lot has been accomplished on the new facility over the past few months. Three roll-down fireproof doors need to be installed for the registration desk, serving and dish counters, and a few exit steps and ramps need to be built. Several inspections have already been completed as work continues to meet final requirements to receive occupancy.
The camp received an encouraging surprise in a Manitoba Sustainable Community Grant to help replace the old wood benches and tables with new chairs and tables for the dining area.
Without revenue from rentals, school groups and camper fees, TMBC depends upon those who invest and partner with the work there.
Weir said, “What an encouragement to evidence God’s faithful provision as gifts come in, enabling camp to pay ongoing operating expenses. With the price of materials increasing, as well as being unable to have the anticipated volunteer help to save on labour costs the past four months, it took a toll on our building fund.
“We are anxious to have occupancy and marvel that work has never had to stop. The building to date is debt free and although financial support is still needed, we know, Philippians 1:6 He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it. Most importantly, we are grateful that ministry can still happen, even though it is different from what we are accustomed to.”
The camp is waiting to hear what guidelines will be in place with COVID-19 updates at the end of July. Smaller rental groups, family camping, events to connect with Jr. and Sr. High campers and J.O.Y. (Just Older Youth-senior) Camp, are waiting on those decisions.
Presently, children ages 7-12 who might be interested in registering for a morning or afternoon session in a Monday to Friday day camp, registration is available on-line: tmbc.ca, or by phone, 204-747-2587.
Harold Weir says, “We don’t want any children to miss out on this opportunity due to lack of funds,” and adds, “Please don’t hesitate to contact the camp at firstname.lastname@example.org.”