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.

An Earnest Thank You

This week marks the end of our Summer Programming. We have said hello and goodbye to many campers, families, and friends throughout this season. The “Hello!” was always exciting, and “Goodbye”  seemed all too often like a small part of us was leaving. 

In one of its’ most straightforward definitions, Camp is where relationships are encouraged, where strangers become family, and life seems less scary. 

This year specifically, I held fear close as the camp season came near— fear for job security, health, campers, and staff, amongst many more.  

This concern dissolved as the first smiling faces and sounds of laughter filled the property. (filled being a relative term – Filled within social distance guidelines of course!) 

As I reflect on the strange yet simultaneously wonderful last three months, I recognize how thankful I am this year for the small things I have often overlooked. Both parents and campers’ eyes would show the marks of each early morning, but rarely was the exhaustion commented on, rather the parents and children would speak only with the excitement of the day to come! Eyes half-open yet with hearts and minds that couldn’t unbuckle the seatbelt and open the car door soon enough!

The truth is the laughter, smiles, footsteps in the gravel, late-night shenanigans, constant campfire scented hair, and all of the other tiny pockets of joy are all things camp has always had. Never have I escaped a summer without the burning sensation of eyes so dry from a windy night around the campfire. 

Moments that have nearly always been there that I have never fully recognized nor had gratitude towards. 

This year, with the unknown, unprecedented, unpredictable, or any other word meaning “no clue what the future holds.” I was so thankful for the gratitude I had forgotten to give. Each morning that campers were on the road, the staff shared a devotion over coffee, or the calm of the day hadn’t yet given way to the chaos driven distractions. I found myself saying, “Thank you, God.” 

Thank you for the things I do not know or have yet to see, for the parents who aren’t morning people but drove to camp anyway, and the joys we got to share in the midst of the unknown. 

Thank you, Father, for you are good!

An Earnest Thank You

This week marks the end of our Summer Programming. We have said hello and goodbye to many campers, families, and friends throughout this season. The “Hello!” was always exciting, and “Goodbye”  seemed all too often like a small part of us was leaving. 

In one of its’ most straightforward definitions, Camp is where relationships are encouraged, where strangers become family, and life seems less scary. 

This year specifically, I held fear close as the camp season came near— fear for job security, health, campers, and staff, amongst many more.  

This concern dissolved as the first smiling faces and sounds of laughter filled the property. (filled being a relative term – Filled within social distance guidelines of course!) 

As I reflect on the strange yet simultaneously wonderful last three months, I recognize how thankful I am this year for the small things I have often overlooked. Both parents and campers’ eyes would show the marks of each early morning, but rarely was the exhaustion commented on, rather the parents and children would speak only with the excitement of the day to come! Eyes half-open yet with hearts and minds that couldn’t unbuckle the seatbelt and open the car door soon enough!

The truth is the laughter, smiles, footsteps in the gravel, late-night shenanigans, constant campfire scented hair, and all of the other tiny pockets of joy are all things camp has always had. Never have I escaped a summer without the burning sensation of eyes so dry from a windy night around the campfire. 

Moments that have nearly always been there that I have never fully recognized nor had gratitude towards. 

This year, with the unknown, unprecedented, unpredictable, or any other word meaning “no clue what the future holds.” I was so thankful for the gratitude I had forgotten to give. Each morning that campers were on the road, the staff shared a devotion over coffee, or the calm of the day hadn’t yet given way to the chaos driven distractions. I found myself saying, “Thank you, God.” 

Thank you for the things I do not know or have yet to see, for the parents who aren’t morning people but drove to camp anyway, and the joys we got to share in the midst of the unknown. 

Thank you, Father, for you are good!

The Story Of David

Unexpected Time; Unexpected Blessing

I keep catching myself cringing at the word “unprecedented,” having a harsh, adverse response to those five syllables. After the last four months, that word strikes with the heaviness and awkwardness of a soccer ball to the face. (I work in camp ministry, I know the feeling all too well.) 

The more I hear that word or others associated with it, such as unforeseen, unknown, or risk mitigation, I feel the caring, helpful nature of my inner self sheltering away from the world that seems all too hard. It’s not as though I no longer care, nor that I don’t wish to help, my capacity at this moment is merely far less than I wish it to be. 

I find myself being frustrated by the apparent lack of problems I single-handedly can solve as if solving the issues of the world over a cup of coffee is that rudimentary or within my understanding. It’s a daunting and overwhelming task to solve the world’s problems alone, with only a grade six education on the political system of Canada and even less so of that in the United States. I also find myself continually being facetious in the midst of serious issues. 

I, along with other summer camp staff, forget to spend time in the presence of the Lord during the hectic and chaotic nature of the summer season, which has been heightened in our current circumstance. I often need a reminder to do so, to find the time, to seek the Lord first, and to put my relationship with Him first. Not after dinner, not tomorrow, not after the kids are gone and asleep. First. 

As easy as that is to say, when I find myself in the middle of a Camp Session, the applicability seems much more monumental in scale. However, this week I was able to take time, to reflect, to be humble before Him and be grateful for the job He invites me into. 

It says in Matthew 6: 33 “But, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” 

I started the next day after reading through this passage, intending to seek God in my day. I started my day, coffee in hand, talking to the children during a chapel session about Noah and the Ark. Each child, young and full of energy, optimism, and curiosities. It was apparent they weren’t worried about the systemic and economic repercussions of a global pandemic. They were laughing gleefully at the fact that I, the speaker, was spraying someone with water to demonstrate the floodwaters in the story. They then proceeded to ask questions and listen intently to the answers. They were excited to learn more about God. 

We had about 20 children at this chapel session, a number less than half of what we are accustomed to. This number would be easy to look at and say, “well, why bother?” That day, as I sprayed water on a staff member who has given their summer to foster growth and fun for any child who attends Covenant Bay Bible Camp, I was reminded of a single infallible truth. Our God, who is good, understands the problems more than I ever could. He guides my steps and has never asked me to solve the world’s problems. He has asked me to care for those around me, to seek Him first in my everything, and follow His lead. 

This prompting to seek seems almost childlike to me. The idea that a child will look gleefully behind every curtain and cupboard before eventually finding the other players in any such game. I am reminded that in my relationship with God, I strive to be more childlike, more obedient, less critical. 

So, although the word “unprecedented” tends to send shivers down my spine, I recognize that the unpredictability of the season isn’t all bad. God is catching me off guard once again with the lessons I am learning, but as I seek Him, I continue to find contentment, peace, and even a childlike glee as I get excited to discover him in my everyday.

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

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

Around The Corner

The Character of God: Love

Should 1? Part – 2