One Thousand Hours

 

One Thousand Hours

I must start with a caveat about the following article. The ideas I am sharing are simply thoughts to be pondered and reflected upon and not a commentary on any specific group or individual. 

I was listening to several podcasts this week while painting some walls in my home office. A few of which mentioned the recruitment of youth and young adults into extremist or terrorist cells, specifically Isis. The ideas and tactics they were sharing were hardly different than that of national gang recruitment. 

A study “Tackling terrorists’ recruitment of youth” by Jessica Trisko Darden delves into and communicates the recruitment systems used by extremist groups.


 The author speaks to the vulnerability that is taken advantage of when recruiting young individuals. These youth have several things in common; Vulnerability, loneliness, and marginalization from their immediate community.  These youth seek connection, community, and above most else, belonging, which they receive through connecting with these terrorist groups. 

The recruiters will often use several people to recruit one young person, which is never communicated and misrepresents that the youth is always connecting with the same person. Often over thousands of hours through chat rooms, calls, and emails. Trust and belonging are built over this time. Slowly and methodically. 

Without going too much further into the specifics of the scenario, I will say this. I have some experience working with youth who were gang involved. These individuals never saw it as a flawed system, not once. They felt more protected, cared for, and connected there than they ever had at home or in the community, which does not say much for their home life or experience within the community. They understood the surface dangers of it; they knew there were risks involved, but what “family” doesn’t have some give and take?

These are all human needs, all things God created us to need! We will all search for these life essentials until we find them.

The introspection came quickly after listening and digging into this idea. I am profoundly challenged by the thought of one thousand hours. This idea, one thousand hours, at its simplest, is the idea that 1000 hours will be spent with any given child or youth to ensure they feel safe, cared for, and protected. This type of intimate time spent then creates an indebted relationship that can quickly be taken advantage of. When was the last time I, or ministries, spent this kind of time connecting with an individual? 

Do we offer these individuals the same things? Do we offer the youth, community, protection, belonging, and judgment-free relationship in a Christ-centered and healthy environment? 

Many of these are rhetorical questions. I genuinely don’t have the answers to them. I know that evaluating how we share God’s love is crucial to reaching people. Understanding what they seek and the places it is found allows us, as Christians, to understand some of what they are going through. 

As we approach each other, understanding our humanity and collective brokenness allows us to connect, listen, and share life without the implications or expectations perpetuated by unhealthy or self-involved relationships—a challenge for all of us, only attainable through a vibrant and earnest relationship with God.

Summer Thought; Winter Day

Summer Thought; Winter Day

I sit here, easily distracted by the snow covering the sidewalk, driveways, and roads just outside my living room window. As with much of the world at the moment, I find myself working primarily from home, a scenario I am thankful for but not always good at. I like to move, change scenes, and travel more often than the regular individual might. It’s sometimes a nervous twitch yet more specifically a need for experience and adventure! 

This paints a good picture as to why I ended up being the Program Director at Covenant Bay. Never a dull moment. Once the winter days settle in, a week or so after the time change (which somehow still throws me off, every year!) I recognize my need for adventure, travel, and warmer weather, calls me, subtly yet not lacking fervor, it demands I take note. Which I do, momentarily at least. like most Canadians I know, I long for the warm days with exponential increase as the winter months drag on.

I like to consider myself an expert in Summer. Not like, a meteorologist or anything, just simply a person who has experienced summer and much of what it has to offer through many years of serving Summer camp! It is much harder to have a slip-n-slide in negative 30-degree weather! (trust me, I’ve tried) 

The exact timing of “evening” seems to get less exact as the year draws to an end. “Is it 2:00 pm? Or Midnight?” I am genuinely unsure most of December due to the lack of any prolonged sunlight. 

Midnight is and has always been the time when I get my best thinking done. This year I have been captivated by the thought of how we carry experiences with us and how those experiences, help grow and oftentimes define us long after they’re initially experienced. 

Every summer, since I was 18, I have watched children, youth, and staff, grow through experiences. This growth is often more profound than any individual expects. Each winter, around this time I remind myself to pray for those individuals, for the change they experienced, and that the spiritual growth they experienced in the summer months has been fostered, cared for, and encouraged into this season. 

We, at camp, or in ministry, recognize that this type of life change comes through an interaction with the Holy Spirit. This is the exact life change and connection we pray for and love to see during the summer months, or while doing relational ministry with people! 

My encouragement and end thought for today is simple. As the days get colder and we see the sunless, let’s remember to pray for those whose lives have changed, for the children, youth, and families that are impacted by local ministries sharing the Joy of the Holy Spirit.

Year-end Campaign

Year End Campaign

The Year-end campaign is a unique opportunity for donors to have every dollar matched up to a combined total of $60,000. Each week Jon will give an update regarding the goal.

https://covenantbay.ca/news/count-your-blessings/

Donate Today

Count Your Blessings

Count Your Blessings

If people had the opportunity to relive 2020, I don’t think anyone would take me up on the offer. Yet, I hear people counting their blessings, the good things that have come out of the worldwide crisis. People talk about how their family life has slowed and improved dramatically. Many couples talk about improved marriages. Individuals talk about the health benefits of a more simple life. God is at work, bringing good out of hard and difficult times. People may not choose to relive 2020, but most do not wish to let go of the things they learned and the good that has come out of 2020.

This is true of Covenant Bay as well. In the midst of difficult times, God brings good things – blessings we would have never experienced without a crisis. When I was a young boy, we would sing a song in my church; do you remember the lyrics below?

“Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God has done!”

Today, I choose to count our blessings. Join me as I recount all the good God has brought this year.

A New Program Director.

In April, Bradon Pihowich, Covenant Bay’s new Program Director, stepped into his role with our entire summer on the brink of not happening. Nearly every year since 2007, I (Jon Drebert) have been in charge of the summer camp program. Without Bradon’s timely arrival and leadership, I am not sure I would have been able to pull off the summer camp program. I am so grateful to God that Bradon has joined us at Covenant Bay.

Rentals

It may sound ridiculous for me to put rentals on this list of blessings since we were on track for record numbers. So, where is the blessing in all of that? Each rental group booked or nearly booked earlier this year has indicated a desire to rebook later. All the hard work is not lost; those bookings will happen one day!

Facility

In 2019 we completed (mostly) the inside of the accommodation lodge. We were ready to jump into the landscaping, except it was really wet and then by the time it dried up, we were into our summer camp season, which is not when you want to be doing landscaping work and pouring concrete. So the project was pushed back and pushed back, and then we looked to the spring of 2020 and again, the rains came, and it was even wetter in the spring and early summer of 2020. So we waited and waited.

The fall of 2020 came, and we had our opportunity. Volunteers jumped at the chance to help out. The concrete was poured for the sidewalks and lakeside patio. Keith Nelson, the Facilities Director, planted all of the shrubs, flowers, trees and installed the ground cover. When you see the lodge next summer, it will look complete because of Keith’s and others’ beautiful work. Incredibly everything was paid for by donors. Thank you, Lord.

Bible Story Podcast

Despite hosting only a fraction of the campers and retreat guests compared to a normal year, God has reached more lives through Covenant Bay in 2020 than any other year. The Bible Story Podcast has gained what we consider a sizeable audience. The Bible Story Podcast began in the Fall of 2020 and was meant to be a follow-up resource to help parents teach and grow their children in a relationship with Jesus. We did not expect the audience to grow far beyond the Covenant Bay circle and become a means for people to be introduced to Covenant Bay Bible Camp.

In our first month, October 2019, there were 141 downloads. In September of 2020, there were 3,900 downloads. Now there are many reasons to take these numbers with a grain of salt – or a lot of salt, but, for now, we are encouraged by what God is doing and thankful for his leading.

In-School Program

One of the groups that Covenant Bay has chosen to serve is schools. With our facility not being an option for them, we have pivoted significantly. Bradon, our program director, has written a curriculum outlining a means to be resilient and deal with change and crisis. His training as a child and youth care counsellor is a tremendous asset. Thanks to Jason, our rental Coordinator, the In-School Program is now booked through most of November, and we hope that more schools will book for future months.

Whether it is a personal crisis or a worldwide crisis like COVID 19, students need to respond to change and crisis well. 2020 has brought us a unique opportunity to love our community through this program. I believe the In-school program will remain relevant as change and crisis are always occurring, maybe not at the scale we have seen this year, but we all consistently experience these things at some level.

Provision

Regardless, if you agree with the Federal Governments’ response to the crisis, Covenant Bay Bible Camp has benefited significantly. Since May, Covenant Bay’s year-round staff went from full-time work to 32 hours per week. To pay for the staff wages, an application has been to the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy each month, amounting to over $65,000. Additionally, over $80,000 was granted in other funding for summer students and interns. This provision allowed us to offer a unique summer camp program. Without funding for year-round and summer staff, Covenant Bay would have had to alter its operations significantly. I am grateful for God’s provision, regardless of how it comes.

Covenant Bay donors continue to amaze. Not only have they paid for in full the construction cost of the Lodge (grateful for no mortgage), but they continue to provide all that is needed to continue the work. Donors have already exceeded what was given in 2019. Typically, November and December are some of the highest giving months of the year. God provides all that we need and more to serve him. I am so tremendously grateful!

…together for the good…

‘And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. ‘ Romans 8:28

In March and April, I thought the Crisis would hurt Covenant Bay so significantly that I wondered if the organization would survive. Not only has Covenant Bay survived, but it has become stronger. More people than ever are being reached. Our staff team has grown and become more well rounded. Covenant Bay donors continue to be faithful. Amazingly, God is doing as much or more than he ever has through the work at Covenant Bay.

So why all this blessing? I thought this was a crisis? I believe that is just the way God works; he loves to bless his children. Thanks for loving God and responding to his call. God has blessed us because he chooses to, and I am so grateful for his love and for allowing us to work alongside him.

Can you think of any more blessings? Count them by one with me by commenting below!

This is us with Sarah

This is us with Sarah

For our first post in this is us, I was privileged to sit down with Sarah Kinsey and ask about her experience at Covenant Bay along with her family’s experience too. Here is what Sarah had to say.


My name is Sarah Kinsey; I am from the Wetaskiwin area and have grown up going to the Malmo Covenant Church. I continue to attend Malmo now as an adult, and my husband and I are raising our three children as a part of the wonderful church community. ( Easton – 12, Meegan – 9, and Brady – 7) 

This is us | Sarah Kinsey

Camp has influenced my family greatly. I grew up attending Covenant Bay, and it has helped shape me into the person I am today. I remember the experiences I had at camp as a child and now want my children to have similar experiences. My oldest has attended camp for five years, and my youngest has just now attended his first full week! I notice the impact when they come to me, after a week or a day, and tell me stories of things they learned, friends they have made, and all the fun they are having. Overall it is a really positive experience.

Currently, I see God working in my family in many areas. In the time of COVID – 19, we, as a family, have been spending lots of time together. I would say, through this, he has been teaching us about patience and contentment. Being patient with each other, where we are and how to fully enjoy the company of one another.

I have been connected with Covenant Bay Bible Camp for as long as I can remember. Growing up in a church family that supported the camp has encouraged me to continue to support this place. I remember coming on the annual camp Sunday with the church and eventually attending every summer starting when I was old enough for Junior Girls Camp. Eventually, I worked my way up to volunteering and being on staff. This has always been a place of enjoyment for me. 

This Ministry has been a part of my family for many years. My Grandfather helped found the original site called inspiration point and continued to help as the camp moved to the current site.  My dad helped build the “Big Tab” and remembers that project fondly. I think my grandfather and dad had always wanted us to see this as a place where we could come and grow in our relationship with Jesus. To learn about Him and be challenged in our faith, which would help us grow as people and followers of Christ.

Camp is important to me for so many reasons. The take away each summer, from all of the speakers, was always this personal and close relationship I could have with Jesus. Each year, depending on my age, would shape me slightly differently. It was a safe place where I could come every year, where big questions could be asked and where staff who genuinely cared for campers could be a source of encouragement. Now, I won’t downplay the fun I had there! That is all a part of it. Camp is a place where you are able to have fun, learn and grow. Many of the friendships I formed throughout my years as a camper or staff I still have today. 

Camp is a place where I, and my children, have been able to experience a continual theme of growing in our relationship with God. Through the many years, the different ages and stages of life. The camp continues to hold true to that theme.

One of my favourite memories was the summer I spent here as a staff. Katie Richter, if you’re reading this, you will know. That summer was full of practical jokes. Light-hearted and fun! Just honest fun. Things (practical jokes) that help you grow together as friends – and some that you still have to get back at your friends for. Things such as walking up to my car hidden somewhere on camp, obviously not where I had last parked it or going to bed and finding my pillowcase full of grasshoppers! (who had been in abundance that year!)

The idea that we could just go all out and have fun was worth it! A game of hide-and-seek would quickly force you to be in the water with a snorkel or hiding under a gross bugged filled cabin just to win! The fun was the justification for the ridiculousness of it all, but it made it special. 

The campfires stick out too. The goofy songs that turned into more serious moments of sharing testimonies and speaking vulnerably to each other. This was always a highlight.

My hope for my kids is that they are able to have similar experiences, fun-filled days with ridiculous adventures that lead to vulnerable moments with friends. I hope they see this as a place where they can come and struggle with the BIG questions. I would love to see this be a place that becomes their own, that is filled with their own memories and moments of growing closer in their relationship with God. 

I can’t imagine the amount of work and preparation that has gone into running a camp during COVID. I will say that my kids, on the entirety of the way home from camp each night, never stop talking about the fun they had or the stories they learned! This is all a testament to the staff they have hired and the work they have put in! 

This is us

The Personal Story

As We Look Forward

Friends & Family of Covenant Bay Bible Camp, 

The leadership of Covenant Bay and I continue to evaluate and establish best practice for this summer in regards to safety on and off the property. 

As on-site day sessions began in July, I was excited and hopeful for the eventual opening of overnight camps being an option this summer. With the ever-changing landscape, I have decided it is in the best interest of staff and patrons to continue to provide day sessions this summer and not transition into overnight camps. 

As you read these words, I understand the feelings of loss associated with the constant change to tradition we have been experiencing over the past few months. For many of us, camp is a staple of our summer. The long nights, smoke bathed clothes, deep conversations, and intimate moments with God amidst the prairie sunsets. Although our tradition has been interrupted, I encourage you to dwell, even momentarily, on the following. 

Camp and tradition are more complex than we perhaps have given them credit.  

This week, I have sat in my office, with my back facing the open window, filled with joy at the laughter that I get to overhear as the children walk by. Each conversation is different, sometimes secretive, often silly, yet always honest in delivery. These conversations remind me that children, in their beautiful simplicity, are far more resilient than most. They seem unwavering in the joy they bring to camp. They show no signs of sorrow, strife, or even worry about the lack of overnight options or the amount of handwashing they have to comply with. They are wonderfully opportunistic. The dirt-smudged faces continue to smile, and the laughter continues to fill my office from the open window. 

God continues to remind me that He is a good and gracious father and that this is His ministry, and He will provide. 

Although the camp looks different, the impact and purpose remain the same. Children, staff, and parents are growing in their relationship with God. 

I am confident this season will continue to humble us, challenge us, and push is in our approach and perspectives to ministry.  However, while we are, knee-deep in policy, smelling of sanitizer rather than smoke, know that God meets us wherever we are. 

With gratitude,

Bradon Pihowich

Information and dates for August Day Sessions can be found under Weekly Sessions in Summer Camp

Part Five: Who is Jesus?

Renew Your Resolve to Love

Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. 1 John 3:18a

Renew Your Resolve to Love

A message on Fear and Love
Jon Drebert
Executive Director | Covenant Bay Bible Camp.

 

Part Four: Who is Jesus?