Oh Canada

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So I’ve spent most of the past two weeks touring Canada, looking at some of their camping ministries just as they hit the full stride of their Summer camping season. We’ve so far visited more than twenty sites across three Provinces, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta.

The Canadian preparation for the Summer is impressive. Admittedly it’s a nine week window where the average campsite has to make hay while the sun shines (literally). Most sites bring their camp leadership in for at least a week before the camps get underway, a week of intentional input, relationship building and preparation for what lies head.

I am profoundly impressed with the calibre of leader this system produces. The Canadian youth leaders we have seen are engaging, passionate and giving. Many of them event on their first summer camp at age 5, were campers for the next decade and have then returned as young leaders, then counsellors and camp leaders for a further ten years.

All up they will have been in a camp environment for a period of time that tallies nearly two years, and judging by the calibre of people we’ve seen, it’s an impressive legacy.

In many respects there are some significant similarities between Canadians and Australians. We both inhabit a vast land mass of massive variation. We share the British heritage (Will and Kate Windsor have been shadowing our every move on this tour). I’ve been surprised that Canadians are water babies just like Australians, though their summers are spent around their millions of stunning freshwater lakes, rather than the beach.

Our trusty transport in Ontario. I'd always wanted to ride in one of these.

But in coming to Canada I have also appreciated the opportunity to experience the differences. Not just to experience them, but to grow to value them, celebrate them as it is our differences that make this planet an interesting place. Here’s some of the things I will miss about Canada.

The engaging and friendly directness of the Canadian people.
Hot Apple Cider and Tim Bits at ridiculously cheap prices from Tim Horton’s.
The strong commitment to an incarnational approach from some of the major camp ministries here.
Flicking the light switch up, rather than down, to turn the light on.
Lavish hospitality and all kinds of food we don’t get to try at home.
Serving meals ‘family style’ and the warmth of interaction around a shared table.
The way the toilets suck themselves dry (presumably something to do with keeping the water from freezing in the winter).
The way most sites have thought well about their local context and demographics and tailored their activities and ministry to suit (from Olympic sized skate rinks which host NHL teams to out trips in canoes in the deep north).
The morning swim in the bracing freshwater lakes that border just about every campsite here.

That’s just a few, you get the drift. I guess I don’t have to say goodbye to them, just bring them home and give them an Australian twist. Is there anyone out there interested in starting a Tim Horton’s franchise in the appropriately named Mapleton?

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5 Responses to Oh Canada

  1. anne Grant says:

    Great post….gives me more of an idea of some of the stuff you’ve been experiencing. Gosh we’re going to have a lot to talk about!! Love you!

  2. MUM SAYS says:

    Sounds totally amazing, and interesting…..What an exciting time you have had, ,and I bet you are brim full of ideas that you can adapt for Australia. Looking for your return.

  3. Martin Lord says:

    Hey Mzilikazi, Sounds like a great experience wish I had been with you! You must come and visit youth week again 2nd – 9th January (every year). Check our website out at http://www.yfc-cyara.com. We would love to host you!

    Regards

    Martin

  4. Lois Gitzel says:

    We were SO happy to host you out here at beautiful Camp Nakamun in Alberta!! Hoping we can connect with you again ‘down under’! Good on ‘ya, Mates!!!

    • mzilikazi says:

      Hey Lois. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Nakamun and really appreciated the warmth and extent of your hospitality. There’s a Nakaumun quote in my next blog post containing quotes I collected on the trip, and it’s one of my favourites: “Our job is to create the space to let God do His work”. I have also used a photo I took of your leaders as an example of the great community the Canadian leaderships seemed to have. They look so relaxed and happy in that beautiful foyer of yours!

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